Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo gave a brilliant performance today to take second at a scorching hot Sepang International Circuit and prolong the championship battle to the final round in Valencia. Teammate Valentino Rossi fought one of the hardest battles of his career to protect his championship ambitions and took third. He received three penalty points by the Race Direction for which an appeal to the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) was rejected.
A dramatic Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix saw Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi claim Yamaha’s tenth double podium of the season at the Sepang International Circuit.
Lorenzo had a good start off the line at the beginning of the Sepang battle, but found himself squeezed out by Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso and emerged from the first corner in sixth position. The Majorcan immediately went to work and needed only half a lap to recover to fourth in pursuit of his teammate.
Lorenzo soon arrived at the back of Rossi and smoothly passed him after two laps to move up to second when Marquez made a mistake in turn four and the Majorcan took full advantage. Lorenzo quickly moved on to chase Dani Pedrosa, but was unable to win ground and finished the race in second, trailing 3.612s.
As of today’s race Valentino Rossi holds the record of most starts in Grand Prix history with 329 starts in what is probably his most dramatic as of yet. The Doctor had a good launch from third on the grid and kept his position as he settled behind Pedrosa and Marquez into the first turn. As Lorenzo started to move up the order, Rossi tried to respond, but was forced to let the Majorcan pass with nineteen laps to go and soon found himself trailing Marquez and one of the most heated scraps of the century ensued.
For four laps the Italian and Spaniard bashed fairings and overtook in almost every corner. The fight was decided when with fourteen laps to go Marc crashed as the result of the two coming into contact at turn 13. Rossi continued the race in third place in a lonely ride and held his position over the line, 13.724s from the front.
Lorenzo’s comeback from second row to second place earns him 20 points and leaves him second in the championship standings with 305 points. Rossi’s performance sees him take 16 points and leaves him still leading on 312 points, just 7 points in front of his teammate in the battle for the World Championship Title.
Following the incident in turn 13, Race Direction has decided to impose 3 penalty points to Rossi, who will start the next Valencia race from the back of the grid. The following appeal by the Team to the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) has been rejected.
2nd / +3.612 / 20 laps
“It was a very hard race. I gave the maximum to keep Dani’s rear wheel as close as possible, but to be honest his pace had been unbelievable. He was so quick and consistent and picked up the bike in a perfect way, so it was very difficult to overtake him on braking. I could only finish in second place, which is important because we recovered points. When I saw the battle between Marc and Valentino I was really surprised because the action was huge and I have to respect race direction’s decision.”
3rd / +13.724 / 20 laps
“Marquez knows it wasn’t red mist that caused the incident. It’s very clear from the helicopter footage that I didn’t want to make him crash, I just wanted to make him lose time, go outside of the line and slow down, because he was playing his dirty game, even worse than in Australia. When I went wide and slowed down to nearly a stop, I looked at him as if to say ‘what are you doing?’. After that we touched. He touched with his right underarm on my leg and my foot slipped off the foot peg. If you look at the image from the helicopter it’s clear that when my foot slipped of the foot peg, Marquez had already crashed. I didn’t want to kick him, especially because, if you give a kick to a MotoGP bike, it won’t crash, it’s very heavy. For me the sanction is not fair, because Marquez won his fight. His program is OK because he is making me lose the championship. The sanction is not good, especially for me, because I didn’t purposefully want to make him crash, I just reacted to his behaviour, but I didn’t kick him. You can’t say anything in the press conference, maybe it changes something, but to me this was not fair, because I just want to fight for the championship with Jorge and let the better man win, but like this that’s not happening. Like I said, I didn’t want to make Marquez crash, but I had to do something because at that moment Jorge was already gone. The championship is not over yet, but this sanction cut me off by the legs and made Marquez win.”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“It’s a shame to see such a beautiful championship, that was supposed to result in one of the most exciting battles between the two Yamaha riders, be affected and almost compromised by another rider. We should be here today dealing with Jorge’s amazing performance on track and his second place, as well as another thrilling battle among top riders but unfortunately this is not the case. We made an appeal to the FIM stewards against the penalty issued by the Race Direction because whilst we respect the infringement, we felt 3 penalty points were too harsh. We have since heard that the appeal has been rejected. We respect this final decision.”
Smith delivers superb performance to clinch 4th at Sepang
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Bradley Smith conquered the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand prix with a superbly calculated run to 4th position in today’s round 17 battle. The 24 year old got straight to work as soon as the race kicked into gear in the searing heat at Sepang as he leapt forward from the third row of the grid. The Briton muscled his way around the 5.5 kilometre circuit on the opening lap which he finished in 10th and he remained confident of ascending through the field. By lap 4, Smith had already passed three riders and found himself in 7th position. His pace continued to increase and just before the midpoint of the race, the Briton was in 6th and homing in on Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. He chipped away and brilliantly shot past Crutchlow on the 11th lap, clinching 4th as well as the lead of the satellite bike battle. Smith then pulled clear of the pursuing rider and stretched out in front. He comfortably carried on his rhythm before finishing the GP in this position, after having opened up a gap of 4.726 seconds over Crutchlow by the time the chequered flag fell. The strong result marks a positive close in the challenging conditions for the young British rider and sees his points tally rise to 171 in the MotoGP standings where he currently sits in 6th, with one round left to race in the 2015 World Championship.
Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro produced a brave and relentless effort as he rode through the pain to finish in 9th in the gruelling Sepang Grand Prix. The young Spaniard started the 20 lap battle from the fourth row, despite experiencing huge discomfort in his cervical spine after falling due to a collision with Barberá in the morning warm up. Yet, an X-ray confirmed that there was no fracture and Espargaro was given the all clear to race. However, the 24 year old remained fully focused and determined to clinch a solid result when the lights flicked off. Espargaro undertook a strong start and picked his way through the field to finish the opening lap in 7th, having moved up four places from his grid placement. He immediately stuck into his race pace as he sought to remain with the leading group, yet slipped back one place by the start of the fourth lap. Espargaro remained in this position but as the end of the GP inched closer, he became engaged in the fight for 6th with three other riders. However, his heroic effort saw him eventually cross the finish line in 9th despite riding with the injury. He now looks towards the season finale at Valencia in two weeks, where he will aim to close the year positively with a strong result.a
4th / +23.995 / 20 laps
“Obviously, finishing this race in 4th position is a fantastic result, especially after such a challenging weekend. Going from 14th at the end of day one to 4th today highlights the great effort by the team and I must thank them for this. In all honesty, we really struggled in the last few days, but we just kept on trying to improve step by step. Things eventually looked good in warm up and I was able to follow a few riders, plus we made another positive change on our Yamaha for the race. Therefore I felt confident, because I knew that I had a good rhythm and I would be able to remain consistent in my lap times. In addition, I know how to ride with old tyres here. When the lights finally went out, I got a good start, but then I lost a bit of time in the second corner. However, I was able to pass Stefan Bradl quite quickly and then I tried to keep the gap to Cal and Dovizioso the same because I believed that at one point in the race, I could close in on them. Therefore, I also tried to look after my tyres the best that I could. It was unfortunate for Dovizioso because he had that incident with Cal, which is a shame because it would have been good to fight with him. Yet, after that, I was able to catch Cal and then I pushed as hard as possible in the last 7 laps to open up a gap. It is amazing to get 13 points as we have now extended the points lead over Dovizioso for 6th position in the championship. So we definitely have something to celebrate and we can go home with a smile on our faces after a positive three weeks.”
9th / +42.462 / 20 laps
“I must admit that today’s race was one of the hardest that I have ever had to ride. During the warm up this morning, Barberá crashed into me and I hurt my neck badly. As a result, I had to get it checked before the race so I went to the hospital and to the Clinica Mobile. I have to thank all of the staff, because they worked really hard to make sure that I was in the best possible condition, although in all honesty, I wasn’t feeling great at all. I knew that it was going to be a hard race and sure enough, it was. I experienced a lot of pain and sometimes I even felt dizzy, but I gave it my 100% and tried my best to get to the chequered flag. Obviously, how I felt riding the bike as well as the setting and everything else was less important, as I was just fighting and counting down the laps. Yet, looking back, I think I could have clinched a good result bearing in mind how the race progressed and how my pace was in the practice this morning. Anyway, now I will have my neck checked again in Barcelona and after that, I will try to be as fit as possible for Valencia.”
First points of the season for Elias at Sepang
It was a race with two faces at the Sepang International Circuit for the Forward Racing team. Toni Elias scored his first points in the championship today riding a Yamaha Forward crossing the finishing line in 14th place, while Loris Baz was forced to retire two laps after the start.
Elias, 21st on the grid, after struggling at the start to find the right pace, became the protagonist of a good recovery fighting for most of the race with Eugene Laverty, Jack Miller and Nicky Hayden, his rivals in the Open category. In the last lap he was 15th when he overtook Bautista before the final straight.
Most difficult race for Loris Baz, who felt confident for the race after the progresses he made yesterday in the free practices and secured 20th on the grid. The Frenchman, after a good start, crashed in the first corner of the second lap and he was forced to retire.
14th / +53.619 / 20 laps
“I’m really happy with this result and the points. I rode this bike for the first time just a month ago and after a lot of work I managed to reach my goal. I did not start well, but since the first laps I was able to set a good pace and I recovered several positions. I fought with Laverty and then I overtook Miller and Hayden. In the last lap I was with Bautista and before the straight I passed him. Thanks to all the team for their hard work, Giovanni for this wonderful opportunity to get back in MotoGP, my family and sponsors for their support.”
“Unfortunately my race ended earlier than I expected. I have not a bad start, but at the first corner of the second lap I found myself on the tarmac without being able to do anything. It is a shame: I have lost the possibility of recover some points in the standings, but I remain confident for the last race in Valencia.”