2018 Sepang MotoGP Race: The Rich Get Richer

Marc Marquez took his ninth win of the season at a hot, dry Sepang circuit Sunday when Valentino Rossi crashed out of the race lead with four laps to go. The Rossi crash vaulted the current world champion into the top spot on the podium and guaranteed Andrea Dovizioso (6th) second in the championship with one race remaining.

Alex Rins passed Johann Zarco late in the contest to take second with the French rider settling for the final podium position. Rossi's Yamaha teammate made up for a lousy qualifying and grid position (11th) to take fourth. Dani Pedrosa matched his best finish of the year with fifth in the second-to-last race of his MotoGP career. Andrea Dovizioso finished as the top Ducati in sixth after winning the Malaysian race the past two years.

Alvaro Bautista had his fourth top-ten finish in a row with seventh. Jack Miller could not maintain his early pace -- he held third at the end of the first lap -- and dropped into eighth by race's end. Danilo Petrucci completed the mid-pack four Ducati formation with ninth. And perhaps the most popular rider of on the grid, local son Hafizh Syahrin, climbed into the top ten after starting at the back of the grid.

The Race

Although the race didn't end well for Rossi, the start was just the opposite. The Yamaha facory rider rocketed out from second on the grid to grab the holeshot and immediately take the lead. It turned out to be a Yamaha 1-2 at the outset as Zarco dove into second after starting on pole. In third place was Miller, climbing from his starting position of sixth on the grid. 

But Marquez, who started seventh after receiving a penalty for blocking during qualifying, was making quick work of the riders in front of him. With Iannone on his tail at Turn 15, Marquez bobbled and the Suzuki rider, trying to avoid Marquez, crashed out of the race.  One lap later at the same corner, Marquez dove inside Miller to climb into third. With 18 laps to go, Marquez began hunting Zarco who had opened up a small gap from second. Deep in the pack, Vinales began to make his move.

Two laps later, Rossi remained in command. He held nearly a half-second lead on Zarco who was riding a defensive line to keep Marquez at bay. But one lap later, Marquez moved past the satellite Yamaha at Turn 14 and set his sights on Rossi. But then something unsual began to happen; Rossi began to open a gap on Marquez. It grew to seven-tenths. Then eight. 

In the middle of the pack, Rins started to climb through the order as Miller began drifting back. Rins hunted down Dovizioso in fifth and then Pedrosa in fourth. With 13 laps remaining, Vinales began setting lap times equal to the leaders and climbed into seventh. 

At the front, Rossi was holding Marquez off, maintaining a six-to-seven tenths gap between the pair. Marquez, not making any headway, backed off slightly on his pace for three laps and Rossi's lead grew to 1.3 seconds. Marquez at this point had opened up a one-second gap to Zarco in third. But with five laps remaining, Marquez again turned up the wick, taking a tenth out of Rossi's lead in each sector. 

Still, the race provided some welcome news for the Tuning Fork Company. All four of the Yamahas at Sepang were setting a blistering pace with Syahrin setting some of the quickest laps on the track and climbing into tenth place. Vinales too was on a tear and moving up. With four laps remaining, Marquez had narrowed the gap to Rossi to six tenths.

Rossi, with Marquez closing, lost the rear on his factory Yamaha and crashed at Turn 1 with a six-tenths lead. (He remounted and finished 18th.) Marquez, four seconds clear of Zarco settled into the lead. Rins took second from Zarco near the end of the race to grab the middle podium spot. 


Pos. Num. Rider Bike Gap
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 40'32.372
2 42 Alex RINS Suzuki +1.898
3 5 Johann ZARCO Yamaha +2.474
4 25 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha +4.667
5 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda +6.190
6 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati +11.248
7 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati +15.611
8 43 Jack MILLER Ducati +19.009
9 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati +22.921
10 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha +26.919
11 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia +29.503
12 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Honda +30.933
13 6 Stefan BRADL Honda +35.322
14 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda +37.912
15 38 Bradley SMITH KTM +39.675
16 12 Thomas LUTHI Honda +41.820
17 10 Xavier SIMEON Ducati +43.978
18 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha +58.288
19 45 Scott REDDING Aprilia +1'00.191
    Not Classified    
  44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 4 Laps
  51 Michele PIRRO Ducati 15 Laps
  17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 17 Laps
    Not Finished 1st Lap    
  29 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki 0 Lap
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Sepang pressure cooker !

Congratulations Marc Marquez, Alex Rins & Johann Zarco. Good result for Maverick Vinales considering qualifying & his start.

Sepang pressure cooker !

Congratulations Marc Marquez, Alex Rins & Johann Zarco. Good result for Maverick Vinales considering qualifying & his start.

That is a hopeful sign for Yamaha. Rossi was going real well there up until it let go on him.
He lost the rear, and then the front went in sympathy. They say the telemetry said he had 65 or 66 degrees of lean angle on at the time. Even when the tyre's perfect, 62 degrees is normal. He was trying very hard....

8th for Miller is a good result. He was up in the top 2 or 3 for the first few laps. Everybody went with the soft rear but he chose the medium, and it just didn't quite have the pace of the soft. He did the right thing and didn't panic, he stayed on the bike, went as quick as he could while being safe. He did finish in front of Petrucci....

Haffi Syarin did a great job. Well done the Malaysian at home. He had real emotional stuff at the start but never did anything stupid during the race. That's real pressure, and he kept it together better than Rossi...

Yeah ... shame Rossi fell off when he did. I rather think M&M would have still won, but we didn't get to see the pass.

It's always a lesson in persistence for me when I see Rossi go down (ouch) and immediately work on getting back into the race.  I don't think he's alone in this mindset, but I see a few riders make no attempt to restart and resume (as far as I can tell.)  Not making judgements...only observations (and I've never been on a track at these speeds and under these conditions.) 

... was an epic adventure with Tonys Track Days at Palmer Motorsports.  Intermediate group (BMW F800R; first bike, been riding 4 seasons then) and learned a lot.  Almost didn't get there: 3:30am, tornado warning sounds on phone and at 4:30am torrential rain still happening (with forecast to clear.)  Don rain gear, limp my way 10 miles North to meet another rider at 5am (Starbucks open) for breakfast.  By 5:30am, blue skies for remainder of the day. Can't say enough good things about Tony & Crew + Ken Condon and his coaches.  (I had done a 1:1 day of street-riding coaching with Ken the previous year.)  The track was clean and marked ("X" in white paint) to hit idealized enter and exit points for turns...and as the day went along, you could improve on these.  Spotters in each corner with radios, too.  Now I'm going to upgrade to a liter bike, do some more street training and plan another track day, too.  These (track) techniques do carry over to the road (at least for a newbie.) Saw a lot of much higher performance bikes that day and at the same time, cruising bikes kicking it, too.  

I pretty much limped around the track my first 20-minute session.  Safety briefing highlighted how to ride safe, signal if you're coming off early and allow faster riders to pass.  Coaches riding with us provided on-track guidance, too.  Gained confidence each session on the track: 20-mins on, groups of 4 at a time, 20-minutes debrief, 20-minutes rest.  Gained much more confidence by the end of the day.  Rode home with a huge smile on my face!  

After the flag, a glance further adrift of Marquez threw up some big winners heading to Valencia. Alex Rins and Johan Zarco head by a short head a titanic battle for 5th in the riders title standings. Maverick must fancy his chances at 3rd and #1 Yamaha and in spite of a pretty mundane Ducati performance, Dovi has once again secured title runner up and Ducati, constructors runner up 2018. It was a bummer for Rossi and Iannone. Just one of those things GP habitually throws up. Vale had the race covered and then an innocuous tuck. By the same token, Marc's rear was borderline and both were 100% comitted to the win. The dice fell in Marc's favour and he will be the first to admit it. What can Ducati take from Sepang 2018? A truckload of usefull data from GP18's,17's,16's etc and the fact that predictive algorithms re Michelin rubber don't always work when the schedule changes. Their bikes looked horrible mid corner. So much so that their usual straight line grunt was horribly compromised. Not the most memorable Sepang unless your name was Hafizh Sayharin. Great job by him and another stellar performance by Alvaro Bautista.

I think being pushed into a mistake will make you look worse than losing a straight on, hard fought battle. This made me think of the times where Rossi forced Biaggi into an error.

Marquez was truly on the limit, struggling to close the gap. Otherwise he would have been climbing all over Rossi's back wheel sooner. Rossi didn't look like he was on the limit, but the pace was obviously truly hot. It could have easily ended with a Marquez crash, notwithstanding his other-worldly ability to save crashes.

IMO, VR was battling more for his "rights" in the Yamaha garage rather more than specifically beating Marquez. Meaning that his teammate MV25 had made such a strong showing in Phillip Island, top of the box, having led the race by up to 4 seconds, and ending Yamaha's long drought of race wins. They are (and have been) battling for control of development in 2019.

Of course, MM has shown he will usually be there at the end to make a lunge of some sort. But on this day, VR's win or bin mentality came from pressure within his own garage, to beat everyone, more than his storied rivalry with MM93.

Agreed re Marquez, he was giving it the beans. I had Rossi as staying RIGHT on the limit and asking a lot of available grip on every bit of track. He looked beautiful.

As per Rossi, he and the bike were fine and he knew he could fight when Marquez arrived. And he does not know why he crashed, he was doing the same as always but may have had a slight bit more lean angle in that corner.  “I don’t know, we have to check. I push for sure. But I pushed for 15 laps the same and when I touched the throttle the rear slide and I don’t expect, sincerely. I’m more worried about the front and I was more on the edge. The rear slide a bit too much and the bike go down." I thought he was off the throttle as per on board audio, but it could have been really subtle. I was willing wishing he had his body a bit more off the bike and a knee ready. His elbow was right there but stork leg tucked in close, focused on carving.

I so wanted to see what unfolded...the Honda wrung that hard on that chunking soft rear, it was overheating front and rear and wasn't going to be feeling normal to ride. Marc had asked for every bit of tire. Both riders were stealing 10ths from expensive places.

If anything it's more satisfying for the winner, it's one thing to be fastest, it's another to be so much faster that the other guy crashed trying to match the pace.

Ducati won the last two years here.  This year, the rules are clarified so teams can't overly chill their fuel and now the best Dovi can do is 6th.  Are these two things related?


Apparently the rounds surrounding Sepang have a niggling ghost. Your turd is just a wee fart for me, and I invite everyone to do the same. It is oneself that wrestles with ghosts, it always starts with me. This one can be much easier than it is, and it would benefit everyone without exception if we allow it to leave us. Even the handful of Italian and Spanish newspaper sellers.

If you are Italian, I recommend placing awareness on Dovi. None of it even registers as "real" or relevant for him. And his own more real such potentially personalized dramas he doesn't make a cozy bed for in his head either. (Jorge gets an obscenely larger amount of hams. Doesn't obey map 8 when legit holding him up while the 2017 title battle is in full glory. So on...real stuff!). Last lap, last turn torpedoes? One eye to eye finger wag.

Why so important? It is a distraction for Dovi. "It is not my job" he says about being dragged into shite that isn't "his." I can tell you with clarity and discernment that what is referred to as Fanboy bias is not for me. And I recommend you minimizing it as well. It is primitive, fundamentalist, tribal. It is true that we have colors, flags, places to sit, languages. Love of certain marques, bikes, countries, and yes riders. And it is also true that there is GREAT importance in what is more than that.

Flexible awareness, multiple perspective taking, wise response after a brief emotional reaction. Good character. My family, we are Highland Scots. Know what England is like for us, what we went through? I still love the Beatles. And within them for me John was a bit nuts, Paul a bit cheesey, and wee George perhaps my favorite as a person. Backmarker Ringo was important. John was underappreciated as a GUITARIST relative to George. Et al. What is most important is how they are parts of a whole. THE MUSIC. So, back to bikes.

The music of MotoGP is so good! And improved by space, silence, quiet rather than mindless noise for sound's sake. Pescau, our meek Muslim friend, what had gone on for him that he was LAST on the grid at home? Did you see the naked emotion before the race? He should have been far forward of that spot but he had lost focus under extreme pressure. Low grip conditions are a specialty of his. So is the heat and humidity. What would happen when the lights went out?

Rossi on this Yamaha leading the race brought much emotion. Wow! Metronomic lap times, gruelling conditions. The Yamaha looked like a Yamaha, tidy wheels in line carving. Greasy hot off camber corners were catching even the most wary out. He was so HAPPY to be on the bike this weekend! Brilliant. And Marquez was coming. 4 laps to go was it? They were converging to share the same slice of tarmac for the last lap and a half. BUT Marquez and Co had chosen the soft rear, and Marc is blasting the rear end of his bucking HRC beast. The tire was chunking, and at risk of delaminating altogether. Both riders were asking everything of traction limits and beyond. Were either of the two trajectories sustainable? And what of their crossing? Beautiful tension!

Vale's rear slipped. "No!" The emotion was SO strong. My chest heaved despair. It was interesting in real time, with that long lever of an outrigger knee could he not have saved it? I don't think so, this time. I was so so sad. Did you catch the ONE SINGLE THING our friend Vinales just stated he needed from Yamaha for the bike by the way? "They just need to increase the engine braking when I am off gas." Hmm.

My love for Rossi is strong and has been for a long time. Even when not at his best. Yellow tinted shite from "fans" on the other hand is tolerated at best, and usually seems a shame. A reflection of the baser aspects of humanity. Poor character. Detracting from the sport, enjoyment of the show, the drama of the narrative, and even the performance of the riders at times. I will no longer accept the booing of #93. I love #46 too much to do so. Yes, that can make sense.

Do you have bandwidth available to appreciate more? Is your sponge dry enough to soak up the rest of the experience? Please don't miss it! Endless sub plots, nuance, second third and fourth derivatives of complex interrelated dynamics. Have you been noticing the Suzuki project?! Rins?! Can you smell in the air a 2020 Suzuki Jr Team announcement? Where is Gabarrini going next season? What is THAT garage shaping up like? What is KTM poised to do, and how?! Is that going to be the best test squad in motorcycle racing history? Did brother Luca just win a Moto2 race?! Did a wee ranch hand just Bag a Moto2 title? Are we about to see him hop on AD04's well sorted and accessible machine?! Shall we go on?

Opportunity cost, missed opportunity - there is regret! That is sad. The shite we will accept in exchange for the beautiful essential is just sad. It starts with you. Here, and now. You, right there with the one or two stars, come on out into the light and speak up. Do you boo Marquez? What do YOU have the back bone and clarity to share with us? Please do. I am looking right at you. Or just put it all to rest if it is about the past, seems preferable to me. This site would benefit from remaining relatively free of crap cluttering comments sections of those other sites.

Hope he can finish P1 at Valencia, to cement the record of at least one win per year. Hope he can get the MotoGP legend from Dorna. He has 3 World Champions on the lower class, but if Nicky Hayden and Kenny Robert Jr even Randy Mamola can get it. I would put my money Dani will get it also in the future.

Thanks for the nudge. I agree. Irony (look, here is ANOTHER one replying now). Sometimes I get far too into it and get sick of myself in here, and distance again.

1) just hit a tipping point on directly putting Rossi - (CS27, JL99, now Marquez) fan and media crap down to die. The booing Marquez thing flicked a switch.
2) I am displacing political/social justice issues into here (USA just had elections)
3) also indirectly working out deep pain of my autonomous work with patients as a psychotherapist into this arena. Overdone.

Sorry for the clutter. Points made. Will be back later just checking out the bikes and riders, interest in shrinky stuff ended a few posts ago.

Enjoy Spain and the test.

Like ships in the night we approach, get close & part without ever meeting or catching sight, just a glimpse across a crowded main straight.

Donington, Leicester speedway, Loughborough Yamaha shop & Sepang, it never happened. But I still have a bottle of red wine.

Until next time Funsize, all the best.