Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Michelin after Sunday's race in Sepang:
Fantastic 1-2 victory for Ducati at Sepang. Andrea Dovizioso wins the Shell Malaysia Grand Prix ahead of Jorge Lorenzo to keep his title hopes alive, 21 points behind Marquez
The two Ducati Team riders produced an outstanding performance today at the Sepang International Circuit, with Andrea Dovizioso winning the Shell Malaysia Grand Prix, held on a wet track, ahead of his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo. With this victory, his sixth of the season, Dovizioso keeps the title battle alive and at this point it will go down to the final round of the season at Valencia from 10-12 November.
Dovizioso, who started from row 3 in third place, didn’t get a perfect start and had to battle with
Pedrosa on the opening lap. The Italian then caught and passed Marquez on lap 5, before setting after the leading duo made up of Zarco and Lorenzo. On lap 9 both Ducati Team riders passed the Frenchman and then Dovizioso was able to overtake his team-mate five laps from the end and hold on to first place until the chequered flag.
Jorge Lorenzo also did a great race, the Spanish rider getting an excellent start from the second row and immediately setting after the provisional race leader Zarco. The rider from Mallorca took over at the front on lap 9 and when he was caught and passed by Dovizioso, he followed his team-mate home for the runner-up slot.
Thanks to today’s results, Ducati moves into second place in the Constructors’ standings with 303 points, two more than Yamaha.
The MotoGP riders will be back in action in two weeks’ time for the final and decisive round of the 2017 season, scheduled for 10-12 November, at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo Circuit.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1st
“It was a truly perfect weekend: we were quick in every session, both in the dry and in the wet, and today in the rain we dominated. Here at Sepang Jorge and I really had a bike advantage, because our Desmosedici was very fast, and we managed to administer the gap in the best possible way even though track conditions were very difficult because there wasn’t much grip. I’m very pleased for the win which keeps my hopes alive for the title, and even though I know it will be very difficult at Valencia because it’s a track where Marquez always goes well, we’ll be going to Spain with confidence to try and bring home the victory.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 2nd
“It was a great race that showed the progress we made throughout the weekend. I was really at ease on the bike, and even though I’d have preferred a dry race, when I saw it was raining I changed my mentality and tried to keep focussed, in order to avoid a mistake like Misano. I pushed hard but in the last few laps I was in a bit of crisis with the tyres, especially the front, and had a few scary moments in some corners. It wasn’t the right time to do anything stupid and when I almost crashed at Turn 15 and Andrea passed me I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to fight for the win. I know exactly how important a world title is for Ducati, Dovizioso has had a fantastic season and deserves to fight for the championship right down to the last race. In this weekend Andrea has always been faster and I’m pleased for the team for this first 1-2 win of the season, because it means we’re working really well.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager)
“I’m really pleased about today’s splendid result, which keeps the title battle open until the final round. Both Andrea and Jorge did a perfect race, without making any mistakes despite difficult track conditions and the Ducati proved to be the bike to beat on this track. It was a memorable team result: now we are going to Valencia with the knowledge that it will be a tough task but we will play our cards right down to the very end.”
Honda secures 2017 Constructor Title in Malaysia, Rider Title to be decided in Valencia
In typical Malaysian fashion, the sun that had shone until half an hour before the start of the MotoGP race was replaced by a sudden heavy thunderstorm that did not last long but left the track completely soaked.
Marc Marquez, on a rain front Michelin tyre and a medium rear, got away brilliantly from the third row and completed the first lap in third place. He was passed by Andrea Dovizioso on the fifth lap, and when he realized that he could not match the pace of the three frontrunners, he settled for fourth place which, combined with the achievements of Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow this season, earned Honda the 2017 MotoGP Constructor title. It was the manufacturer’s 23rd such crown in history, and the sixth out of the last seven seasons.
With Dovizioso winning the race in front of Jorge Lorenzo and Johan Zarco, Marc will arrive at the season finale in Valencia leading the standings by 21 points over the Italian.
Pedrosa, who had been the fastest rider in Saturday’s dry conditions, wasn’t the happiest man when the rain started to fall, but a completely different setup prepared by his team, and the decision to use a soft rear tyre, allowed him to keep a decent pace and take fifth place, just behind his teammate.
“Today the race was the most difficult one we could have had for the Championship because we had rain conditions and the track was extremely slippery. Anyway, I got a good start, and I tried to push at the beginning because I didn’t want to be stuck in the middle of the group. Then I tried to find the feeling and the pace but I saw that both the Ducatis were very fast, so I decided to not take too many risks, to be calm, and to get good points for the Championship. I thought about trying to get Zarco but the risk was too big just to have an advantage of 24 points instead of 21. This wasn’t the race to win the Title but rather one to get closer to it. I’m happy because after a difficult weekend, at a track were we always struggle, we still managed to finish fourth. Of course now we need to keep focused, to train well this week, and to work to be at 100% on Sunday in Valencia without relaxing too much with the advantage we have. Today we won the Constructor Title, and that’s a first step!”
“Overall I’m happy with the result, and I’d like to thank my team for giving me a bike that allowed me to be competitive. Of course after earning the pole yesterday, the expectations would have been high if the conditions were dry, and when I saw the rain starting to fall I thought we might go from first to last. But in the end we changed the setting, trying something we had never used before in an effort to get more rear grip, and it worked! That and the choice of the soft rear tyre gave me confidence. The feeling still wasn’t perfect because the tyre was spinning on the straights, but at least it gave me edge grip and I was able to lean the bike. We’ve learned something that I think may also be helpful for the technicians in the future, so we can be satisfied. Today Honda won the Constructor Championship, and that’s important. It’s another title for the Company, and I’m happy about that.”
Determined Movistar Yamaha Finish Seventh and Ninth in Drenched Sepang
All eyes were on the skies at the Sepang International Circuit today as Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales lined up their bikes on the grid minutes before the start of a drama-filled Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. After a dry warm up session, the wet conditions for the race made tyre choice crucial. The teammates pushed hard in the wet, whilst being careful not to get caught out by the slippery conditions. They secured seventh and ninth place respectively.
Thick clouds looked threatening, as the Doctor started the 20-lap race from fourth on the grid. Uncertain about how hard he could brake going into the first corner, he lost some positions and completed the first lap in 11th place, but it was just the start. Rossi used his experience to turn his fortunes around, steadily improving his pace and picking up places as more and more riders fell victim to the wet conditions.
He reached eighth place on lap 6. Trying to stay in contention for a good result, he was pushing to close the gap to seventh, but his attention was demanded elsewhere as Danilo Petrucci overtook him three laps later. The nine-time World Champion didn't give up the fight and used his compatriot as a tow towards Pol Espargaró in seventh place.
As the track dried and the tyre degradation started to take its toll on his rivals, the Italian overtook Espargaró for eighth place with eight laps to go. It was a signal for Rossi to set a series of personal best sectors, showing his eagerness to join the fight at the front. One lap later he overtook Scott Redding, which motivated him even further. Though he came close, within 0.4s over the finish line, he was unable to close the gap Petrucci. He took the chequered flag in seventh place, 30.769s from the front.
Viñales had a good start from fifth place, but with the conditions having changed so drastically from those in the warm up, he didn't risk going hell for leather on the first lap. Rather, the youngster waited for the tyres to warm up and come to him. He fell back to 16th place in the first three laps of the race, before he was able to up his pace noticeably.
Several riders saw their race end early because of the treacherous conditions, but the Spaniard was determined to keep his head down. He continued to give his all and had climbed back up to 13th midway through the race.
Encouraged by the progress, the Yamaha rider spurred on his YZR-M1. At this point he was riding consistently in the 2'15s and began to make further strides. He picked up various places, ultimately taking over ninth position, two laps before the end of the race, which he held over the finish line, 38.053s from the front.
Rossi's nine-point score increases his total to 197 points, as he holds fourth in the championship standings, 29 points behind Viñales in third place. Yamaha have dropped to third in the Constructor rankings with a 31-point margin. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team are still second in the Team classification, 44 points from the top.
After three full-on consecutive MotoGP weekends, the team members look forward to returning to Europe to enjoy a short rest before the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, the final race of the 2017 season, in two weeks' time.
Position: 7th - Championship: 4th - Points: 197
"We were a little bit unlucky with the weather because I think that on the dry we could have been competitive. We wanted to do a good race because we arrived here fresh from a podium on Phillip Island and it's good to try to stay at the top, but it rained. Unfortunately, today we also weren't strong enough with this bike on the wet. We had a lot of problems and I was struggling for more or less three quarters of the race. We need to understand the situation and try to improve and that's just the way it is. We'll see what happens in Valencia. It's another important race and a difficult track, but we'll see. We'll try to be competitive."
Position: 9th - Championship: 3rd - Points: 226
"I thought we made a big step in Phillip Island in the wet, and actually I felt really good during FP2. We were third in the results and every lap I did I felt in a good rhythm. In the race it was a totally different feeling, I was losing the rear in the corners and couldn't lean, so it was very difficult to get a good rhythm and confidence. Anyway, I have to keep FP2 and the warm up on Phillip Island in mind and don't think about today's race too much, because we had some issues today, but we were fast in some other sessions. I think Valencia is a good track. Actually, in the warm up we found a setting that gives me a lot of confidence. I'm quite happy about that, also because I know we have a good opportunity in Valencia, as it's a track I really like and where I always have been fast. We'll see what happens and try to complete the race there in the best way possible."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"We knew from the start that the weather was going to be a major factor in how today's race was going to play out. We had wet track time in FP2 this weekend and the feeling was quite positive, especially for Maverick, but today the situation was different and we have to understand the reason. The riders couldn't warm up the rear tyre until midway through the race and this cost them a lot of positions. When the feeling with the tyre got better, the lap times improved considerably, but unfortunately it was too late. We have to understand how the conditions of the track were different compared to Friday, because the bikes had quite similar settings today to the ones used in FP2. We'll put this weekend behind us and after a week off we'll focus on the final GP in Valencia in two weeks' time. Our challenge in the Constructor Championship has come to an end and the Team Title also will be very difficult to achieve, but we're still aiming to make a strong comeback, to end the season on a high note."
Seventh Top 10 in MotoGP & another 1-2 in Moto2 for Red Bull KTM Team at Malaysia
RACE 17th Rd. MotoGP 2017 – Sepang International Circuit (MAL)
The seventh top ten of KTM’s debut season in MotoGP came in the big race as Pol Espargaro battled with the world’s best racers to take more valuable points that move KTM up one spot in the team championship. Team mate Bradley Smith made a storming start to run sixth in the early laps to then see twelfth at the flag.
A stunning two weeks in the rich history of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing saw the KTM Moto2 team take a 1-2 finish today at the Malaysian Grand Prix to follow up on their debut victory and similar 1-2 in the class only seven days ago in Australia. It assured today’s winner, Miguel Oliveira, third position the World Championship in only KTM’s first season in the intermediate class of Grand Prix racing.
The MotoGP teams now have one final race of the season in two week’s time in Valencia, Spain.
The Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing team today took their seventh top ten finish in their debut season of MotoGP racing as Pol Espargaro clinched tenth in the Malaysian Grand Prix with team mate Bradley Smith not far behind him in twelfth.
The heavens opened just as the MotoGP bikes were going to the grid but that didn’t bother the KTM MotoGP riders on their KTM RC16 as the lights went green; Smith made up nine places on the opening lap to be a fantastic seventh. A lap later he was sixth before he saw the flag in a very creditable 12th but as close as he’s been to the winner of a wet race.
Espargaro was not quite as fast off the line, but brilliantly fought non-stop to raise himself up to 7th place by the mid way point. The number 44 rider ultimately finished 10th at the flag bagging yet more points for himself and the team.
Espargaro: “It was not easy as these wet races here are quite long, at times feeling like they’re never going to finish, but I felt good at the start battling with Rossi early on even if I maybe lost a bit of time fighting with him. Then I got my rhythm and got into the top ten with my target a ninth but Vinales overtook me...but hey, just saying ‘Vinales overtook me on the last lap’ means we were fighting against someone of that level and that is something of which I’m proud. Obviously we want to improve but it’s been a long way since we did our first race in MotoGP with KTM and I think the progression we are doing is unbelievable, so this is another result for the team and the factory in Austria before we go to the last race in Valencia.”
Smith: “The start today was good fun as I took chances trying to overtake as many as possible using the best of the softer rear tyre that I had while it was wet. Then I wasn’t quite able to make the final steps to defend that great start as the track didn’t quite dry out but just got ‘less wet’. I was as close to the winner in terms of time today as I have been in the wet so we’re going in the right direction for that kind of set up for the coming races. It’s been a great three weeks of racing and I’ve really enjoyed getting back into a normal place that I believe I should be.”
Mike Leitner (Team Manager MotoGP): “We didn’t know what we would find at these three overseas races but in particular Sepang is where I thought it might be difficult for us. The reality is that is has been difficult as we are up against the other manufacturers who’ve done so much testing here since the start of the four stroke era, but the KTM team did a great job. The riders and the two crews did a perfect job making us all fit quite well together with the support from Mattighofen; they’re always giving us something new enabling us to make small steps forward. Now we are happy after these three weeks to have a weekend at home and then go fresh to Valencia with our three riders as Mika (Kallio) is there so let’s just go for it and make a good end to the season.”
UNLUCKY RACE FOR TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR IN MALAYSIA
Team Suzuki Press Office – October 29.
Andrea Iannone: P17 - +58.391
Alex Rins: DNF
After two positive races in Japan and Australia, rain arrived right before the Malaysian GP began and heavily affected a race that could have been another encouraging one for the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders. Andrea Iannone ended his Malaysian GP in 17th place, while Alex Rins was unable to finish the race.
The improvements made during the free practice and qualifying sessions paid were rewarded in the warm up, when both Iannone and Rins set an effective and solid pace; the former classified 5th with a time of 2'00.657, while the latter came in 12th with 2'00.827. The feeling was upbeat and the hopes for the race were reasonably high.
Just one hour before the start of the MotoGP, a heavy rainstorm arrived with a downpour on the Sepang International Circuit, causing engineers and mechanics to revise all the race strategies and change bikes’ settings. Iannone used his experience to his advantage at the start, holding his position during the early laps. Unfortunately, as the tyres became more and more worn his pace grew slower and slower. He was forced to concede position after position until the finish, ending in 17th place.
After a positive start, Rins fought with the leading pack for 6th place position, before sliding off the track at corner one during the 6th lap. This left him in the next to last place. He was able to rejoin the race, but in his attempt to catch up in the race, he took another slide. He then was going back to the pit to change his GSX-RR, but in this process he took a shortcut and did not complete the entire lap. That error generated the black flag penalty.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager
“I’m so disappointed because we had three races in a row, and the first two we did a good job. The first was in Motegi in wet conditions and then in Phillip Island, and now this time on a dry track. But in Sepang, despite the qualifying not being so bad, the race it was not as we expected. We had confidence in wet conditions as well, but the race was a disaster. We have to investigate the data of what happened with Andrea and why he couldn’t ride as he should and get a good result. Alex was having a good race at the beginning but unfortunately, he crashed and he was sorry for the mistake. We have to improve with him. Now we are facing the last race of the season, so because of that, it should be the best race with which to close the championship with a good result.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“It was a very difficult race. It’s a shame that it rained before the race because we were prepared for a dry race. With the rain Alex was quite fast, close to the first group. Unfortunately, he crashed twice and in trying to switch bike as quickly as possible, he got a black flag because he used the shortcut to the pit lane access. His race was over. Regarding Andrea, he couldn’t find the pace with the bike and we have to figure out what happened, why he wasn´t as fast as in Motegi. Let’s say it wasn’t a day to remember. Anyway, we look forward to closing the Championship in the best possible way.”
“It’s hard to find the words to describe this race. In the wet everything got complicated and it was very hard to ride. It’s a shame because this morning in the warm-up we were very fast. We were confident and positive; we could have had the chance in race to fight for important positions. Until this morning we managed to improve the machine. So, despite the race we have done a good job. In race the bike was very hard to ride. I couldn’t even stand up; I felt no grip either at the front or at the rear. In these conditions it was very hard to compete.”
“The weekend has been very good, progressing and getting a good qualifying position. I focused on making a good start and try to cling to the group in front. I gained two positions in the first lap and I was well positioned, but I did not feel good on the bike on the wet surface. I skated a lot and I lost rhythm. In corner one I lost control of the front and I fell. The important thing is that we continue to get experience. This weekend has been good because I have been able to learn from other riders, and to continue that good job in Valencia.”
THE RAIN DOES NOT HELP SAM LOWES WHO CRASHES AT SEPANG
NOW TO VALENCIA WHERE APRILIA AWAITS THE RETURN OF ESPARGARÓ
The rain that fell heavily until just a few minutes from the start of the penultimate 2017 MotoGP race, held in Malaysia, did not help Sam Lowes. The only Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider in the race, due to Aleix Espargaró's absence, crashed during the fifth lap because of the asphalt conditions while battling for a position that would have put him in the points. He managed to restart but after returning to the garage to switch bikes, his race ended early in the tenth lap.
This concluded a weekend that was strongly impacted by the absence of Aleix Espargaró. After his crash in Australia, the Spanish rider underwent successful surgery on his left hand and he will try to be back for the final race of the season in Valencia to resume the competitive level that he and his Aprilia RS-GP had achieved. In recent races, the duo finished sixth at Aragón, seventh in Motegi and played a prominent role in Australia where, after outstanding practice and qualifiers, they demonstrated the potential to fight for the top spots with the best.
"I was already surprised during the sighting lap at how different the track conditions were from FP2. In that session I had felt good in the wet, whereas today I struggled a lot with grip. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake in the group. I was slightly off my line and that was enough to make me lose the front. It's a pity because in the wet we had the potential to make progress, but in a race this difficult things like this can happen."
Sensational Zarco braves wet weather to storm to 3rd in Malaysia – Solid performance by Van der Mark on MotoGP debut
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Johann Zarco produced a superb display today in Malaysia to blaze to 3rd and seal the second podium in his rookie season. The notable French star leapt forward from 2nd on the grid and quickly moved into the lead. He remained at the front of the field for eight laps as the rain continued to fall, before eventually meeting the chequered flag inside the top three and as the leading Yamaha rider. The result marks a highly positive close to the triple flyway races and Zarco seeks to repeat the feat at the season finale in Valencia in a fortnight.
Meanwhile, Michael van der Mark produced a fine performance as he battled against the turbulent weather at the Sepang International Circuit. The young Dutch rider began the Grand Prix from the 8th row, but he immediately stuck into a formidable rhythm as he pushed through the field. He crossed the finish line in 16th, and ahead of several seasoned MotoGP regulars to close a positive, yet challenging, debut weekend aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. Monster Yamaha Tech3 would like to thank Michael for his efforts.
Position: 3rd - Championship: 6th - Points: 154
“It was a great race and I am happy to be on the podium again. I was a bit worried about riding in the wet because when it rained on Friday, I was not fast and overall, Marquez and Dovizioso were pretty quick. Today I used the soft tyre in order to be safe but also to get some feeling and the lap times during the race were not amazing, yet, they were fast enough to lead and I opened up a gap. It was good to start the GP in this way, and even though I felt that I couldn’t push anymore, I did enough to stay first. Then, when the two Ducati riders overtook me, I thought about fighting with them. Eventually, I lost too much in acceleration so I had to push a lot on the brakes. Yet, it was too risky and I lost the rear twice. I wasn’t sure about what to do, however, I expected the track to dry a bit, and then I wanted to attempt to catch them, but I was limited. On the last three laps, I ran alone in third, so I decided to stay focused and the result was already pretty good so I chose to be safe and enjoy it!”
Michael van der Mark
Position: 16th - Championship: Not Classified
"I am really happy with today’s result, even though it was typical Malaysia and just before the race commenced, it rained again! The team and I changed the bike considerably compared to Friday when it was wet and we went softer on the rear. I had quite a good start, and the first half of the GP went very positively as I followed the guys in front of me and I fought with a lot of riders. I’m pleased with my performance, even if I wasn’t completely happy with the bike, but it was only my second time on the YZR-M1 in the wet. In my eyes, to fight for the points and follow Maverick was really amazing. When it dried a little bit, I struggled slightly more than him, yet, I could run a similar pace. I think I lacked a bit of confidence with the turning of the bike, otherwise, I may have been able to stay with the big group in front of me. I hoped to catch them with Maverick, but I also wanted to finish the race, which I did. Overall, I enjoyed the weekend a lot and my first experience with the YZR-M1 was just amazing."
“It’s a great way to end these three flyaway races and the weather, as well as the track conditions, were tricky but finally, we got the podium that we were dreaming of after the one we had in Le Mans. I was really sad and bitter to have just missed out on third in Australia and I thought maybe that was the last opportunity of the season for Johann to get on the rostrum again. However, he proved me wrong today. He was fast and confident about scoring a solid result in the dry, but when we saw the rain falling, we thought the chance had gone, because the feeling on Friday in the wet was not very good. He chose the soft rear tyre, started well, got his head down and ran a strong rhythm which allowed him to be in the lead for the first seven laps. This was an incredible feeling for him but even more so for us. We knew that it was always going to be difficult to stay in front of the Ducati bikes and when they passed us, it was almost like it was the plan. Then we saw Marquez closing and I was scared because we know how fast and how much of a warrior he is. Yet, when Johann saw the gap was shrinking between himself and Marc, he pushed more and finally, Marquez gave up. This is something we have to be proud about as Marc does not often give up. A podium is an incredible reward and three consecutive front rows starts, and a near podium in Australia all mean that the flyway races have gone very positively. We can see that Johann is growing and he is so much more of a MotoGP rider than when we began the year of course. On the other side of the garage, Michael van der Mark did a brilliant job. I want to thank him because it was not easy to jump on a MotoGP bike at round 17 when everyone is fast and they know their bikes so well. Like with Broc last week, he had to discover the carbon brakes, the Michelin tyres and the electronics. Yet, Michael did a top job. He was a bit unhappy with himself after the crash in qualifying, but today he showed great determination. He had a strong start and fought with Cal Crutchlow, who is a Grand Prix winner in the wet, Iannone and he closed in on the factory Yamaha’s. I must thank him for his super effort and I hope, and I think it may happen, that we will see him on the YZR-M1 in the future. Let’s hope this performance will give him a special boost that will translate into a podium in the final WorldSBK race in Qatar next week. I must say thanks to the entire Monster Yamaha Tech3 team, so let’s fly back home and enjoy some well-deserved rest.”
Crazy comeback for Petrux who recovers 17 positions ending up 6th. Scott fights well till mid-race
On the Sepang Circuit Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding are the protagonists of a good race overcoming many difficulties.
The Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix is "wet” with as the rain starts dropping half an hour from the start.
Petrux is forced to start from the last row due to a technical problem that stops him during the warm-up lap. The rider from Terni remains focused and recovers 9 positions at turn 1. In the first few laps the feeling is not the best, then his race pace starts to improve. On lap 7, Petrux overtakes Bautista and Iannone to conquer the Top 10. Three laps later he attacks Rossi and Espargaro to take 7th position before passing Redding for sixth place. Pedrosa, however, is too far away and Petrucci ends up in P6 after a fantastic comeback.
Scott gets off a very good start from P14 and after one lap he was already 8th. After overtaking Smith and Rins the English rider tries to catch Pedrosa. Scott’s pace is convincing and on lap six he recovers 8 tenths of the Spaniard. However, since lap 9, the soft rear tyre doesn't help him and Scott is forced to give up positions by finishing 13th.
6th Danilo Petrucci
“I'm happy with this 6th place also because it was a difficult race. The bike had a problem and I was forced to start from last place. The start was very good but in the early laps I struggled a lot. I couldn't get a lot of traction during the race but I pushed hard to get the best result. If I have to be honest, though, I think we have missed an opportunity to fight for another podium”.
13th Scott Redding
“My race start was very good. The feeling with the medium tyre in the warm up lap was not good so we bet on the soft rubber. I pushed a lot and the feeling was very good until halfway through the race. Then the tyre started to drop and I started losing many tenths of a second each lap. I think it was a fairly positive weekend and this gives me confidence in sight of Valencia.”.
Miller finishes eighth in rain soaked Sepang race
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller scored a second consecutive top ten finish with eighth place in today’s rain hit Malaysian Grand Prix.
The forecast rain showers came in advance of the 20-lap race forcing all riders to switch to Michelin wet weather tyres.
Standing water made conditions unpredictable and slippery with Miller briefly edging forward to tenth place on the opening lap from his starting spot of 11th on the grid.
The low grip levels and tight traffic saw Miller slide back and settle in 13th place with the Australian unable to engage his noted skills in wet races.
When grip levels improved Miller made a late race surge to grab eighth position with six laps remaining.
After moving ahead of Bradley Smith, Pol Espargaro and Maverick Viñales Miller settled into a smooth rhythm as the rain increased over the closing laps.
At the finish Miller’s Honda RC213V was almost three seconds ahead of Viñales in ninth.
The wet and gloomy race weather brought little joy for Spanish rider Tito Rabat who suffered a lack of rear grip from the start, but put in a typically determined performance to complete the race distance.
Jack Miller: 8th
“The opening laps were not easy with the grip levels and it was struggle to stay on the track especially when I was on the left side of the tyre, I was just trying to stay on two wheels. It was a little scary. But from halfway in the race the rear tyre started working better and I was able to make up some positions and grab eighth. Overall a good weekend, I was very strong in the dry and this was my second top ten since coming back from the broken leg so I'm now looking for more points in Valencia.”
Tito Rabat: 18th
“It was dry and sunny all morning then rained for our race so not ideal for me and then I feel I had some issue with the rear tyre, my knee was on the tarmac many times even with very little throttle, I had zero grip. I had a strange feeling and at one point thought about stopping but I pushed to the end although I'm disappointed to be so far behind.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“For Jack to finish eighth is a good result considering he had a difficult start to the race, the conditions were slippery and he was sliding a lot. In the final laps he tried to catch Valentino for seventh but in any case I’m happy with this result. For Tito it was not an easy weekend with the conditions and when the rain came for the race it was even more difficult. Now we move to Valencia and look forward to the final race of the season.”
Bautista just outside the top ten at Sepang
Pull&Bear Aspar rider was lapping ninth in a race that saw Karel Abraham crash out
Andrea Dovizioso achieved the virtually impossible today to keep the MotoGP World Championship alive until the final round at Valencia. The Ducati rider arrived in Malaysia with a 33-point deficit and needed to reduce that to less than 25 in order to stay in the hunt at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in two weeks' time. The Italian took victory in a wet race at Sepang, just ahead of his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, with Johann Zarco taking the final podium spot from Marc Márquez, allowing Dovizioso to take a 12-point bite out of his advantage and head to Valencia 21 points behind.
Álvaro Bautista finished just outside the top ten in Malaysia after taking a gamble on a soft rear tyre that backfired in the latter stages. The Pull&Bear Aspar rider made up positions in the early stages of the race and was up to ninth place at one point, but as the track slowly dried he was unable to maintain his pace and lost a couple of positions. Karel Abraham started from the penultimate position on the grid but within eight laps he was up into the points, until an unfortunate crash denied him the opportunity to finish the flyaway races on a high.
11th Álvaro Bautista: “This is not the result we would have liked. We started well on Friday, had some problems yesterday and today in the wet I felt good at the start on the soft rear but from half distance the track was drying and I struggled. It was a gamble and if it was wetter it would have paid off. I was making up positions until the tyre finally gave up. At least I went better than usual in the wet and the feeling was better. Now we have to look towards Valencia and try to finish the season in a good way.”
Karel Abraham (DNF):“I didn't want a wet race but it's what we got. Warm up was really good because I did my best ever lap here but then it started to rain. I settled myself and felt comfortable, I had one big moment when I lost the rear but didn't crash, and then a couple of laps later I lost the front and crashed with the bike completely upright. Maybe I used too much brake but it's hard to understand how you can lose the front like that. I can do a fast lap in the wet but it seems I can't do twenty so it's something I need to work on with my crew during the winter. It's a shame because I was catching Viñales and he finished ninth so I don't know if I could have kept his pace later on but I felt comfortable at that point. The crash was a surprise and it's a shame because we lost a bunch of points we could have had from here.”
Baz shines in the rain without reward, Barberá takes two points
The sun was shining all morning at the Sepang International Circuit, but just before the MotoGP Malaysian Grand Prix was about to start, the forecasted rainstorms arrived. The mechanics of Reale Avintia Racing had to work against the clock to change the settings for a wet race, while the riders, Hector Barbera and Loris Baz, wondered if the bad feelings of Friday in the wet would come back again.
Baz made up his mind in the sighting lap and switched to the Michelin’s softer compound of the rear tyre, even though he knew that it would not last the whole race. But the Frenchman took the risk and it paid off, at least at the beginning of the race, where he had a great comeback that took him from 17th position on the grid to the ninth in the first lap. After a good fight with Valentino Rossi and Álex Rins, the Reale Avintia Racing rider was sixth, but on the sixth lap of the race he pushed the front too much and crashed.
His teammate Héctor Barberá tried to play it safe and preferred to start with the medium rear compound, but was left with not enough grip during the entire 20-lap race. He nevertheless managed to stay on two wheels and finally scored two points with his 14th position.
The 2017 MotoGP World Championship concludes at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, where the Valencia Grand Prix will take place in two weeks time.
Hector Barbera | P14
“It was a very difficult race. From the beginning, I struggled because I made the wrong tyre selection and it was like riding on ice. I decided to start with the harder tyre, the same one I used last year when I finished fourth here, but this time it was impossible to go fast. I think the track today just suited the soft compound. I also realised as early as in the warm-up lap that the bike was very stiff. During the whole race, I had very bad feeling and I just focused on finishing the race. It’s a shame, because we had a good chance to make a good result today. Now we left it for Valencia, which is the last race of the championship, my home race and also the last race with my team.”
Loris Baz | DNF
“Finally we had a wet race and coming onto the grid with the hard rear tyre, I had no feeling, like on Friday. That’s why we decided to race with the soft, although we knew that it would be difficult to save the tyre until the end as it likely to overheat. But we took the risk and I thought that I would be able to do a few laps with confidence, attack and then manage the advantage until the end. In the warm-up lap I saw immediately that the rubber was working really well. I had a great comeback in the first lap, up to ninth place, and I had a great time battling with everyone. At least once in my life I have been able to fight side by side with Rossi…it was great! Then the tyre got very hot and I pushed hard with the front and made a mistake. I got into a corner very fast and in order to slow down more, I downshifted and then I crashed. It’s a shame, but I’m still satisfied, because it was either this or finish in the last place, struggling for all the race. “
MICHELIN RAIN TYRES SEE DOVIZIOSO TO VICTORY AT A SOAKED SEPANG
MICHELIN Power Rain tyres were again put through their MotoGP™ paces as a massive downpour shortly before the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix soaked the track leading to a wet race which saw Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) splash to victory.
Torrential rain fell over the 5,543m Sepang International Circuit 30-minutes before the start of the race, causing frantic action in the pits as all the teams were forced to change from MICHELIN Power Slick tyres to their wet counterparts. Although the heavy rain subsided, the track was thoroughly wet and stayed in that condition for the whole 20-laps, making conditions extremely difficult for all concerned. This was due to reduced adhesion from the surface because of the amount of dirty water on top of the rubber that had been laid in scorching hot conditions on the previous day and in today’s two Moto3™ and Moto2™ races.
As the lights changed to signal the beginning of the race, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) got a great start from the third row of the grid challenging pole-setter Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) to the first corner. Zarco, using the medium front and soft rear configuration of rain tyres, got there first and led for the next eight-laps before coming under-pressure and then being passed by Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team). The Spaniard then looked to control the race from the front as he tried to make a break, with only his team-mate Dovizioso for company. The duo had both chosen the medium front and rear pairing of tyres and used the grip provided by the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres to push at the front in the tricky conditions, with Dovizioso setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. A mistake on the final turn by Lorenzo on lap-16 then gave Dovizioso the opportunity to grab the lead, which he duly did and held on until the chequered flag and take his sixth victory of the year, giving Ducati its first one-two of the season in the process. Zarco placed third, a result which saw him as First Independent Rider and secure that title for 2017.
Marquez was next to cross the line, a result which leaves him 21-points ahead of Dovizioso in the championship and means that the title-race will now go to the final event to decide this year’s champion. Fifth was Pedrosa, with Danilo Petrucci (OCTO Pramac Racing) getting up to sixth after arguably the ride of the day, as the Italian was forced to start from pit-lane after all the other riders had started, because his bike had an issue on the warm-up lap and he had to get back to the pits and use his spare machine. Seventh was Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), with Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) coming home in eighth. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounded out the top-10.
Despite the threat of heavy rain for today’s event, 97,457 fans filled the stands around the circuit, making it the largest race crowd so far recorded at Sepang and earlier in the day they witnessed Franco Morbidelli crowned Moto2 World Champion, taking the title before he moves to MotoGP in 2018.
Michelin and MotoGP now draws a veil over the three-week Asian-Pacific tour, which has seen some incredible racing at three very different venues. The whole paddock now heads to Valencia in Spain where the title will be decided on Sunday 12th November.
Andrea Dovizioso — (Ducati Team):
“It was such a difficult race because the grip was less than it was in the wet on Friday. Maybe this was because of the amount of rubber on the ground and it took a while for me to get a rhythm. The tyre did not drop during the race, but you had to play with the limit because the grip was very low from the track. We managed in a good way and our bike in the wet with the Michelin rain tyres works so good.”
Nicolas Goubert — Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme:
“Over such a long track and in very tricky conditions we saw lap-times of only just over 10% more than what the guys were doing in the dry and today’s surface was extremely compromised from the amount of rubber laid in yesterday’s practices – where track temperatures were over 50°C – and in the two races earlier today, and also probably from the dust that was in the rain that fell. This made grip a real issue from the asphalt and we are pleased how our tyres behaved in these conditions.
“In the dry yesterday we saw some fantastic lap-times and all the guys reported high levels of grip and if we had had a dry race today all three compounds would most probably have been used, again showing that the variations we bring can be used by all the riders. These three weeks have seen some great racing and we have collected a huge amount of information, which we will now work on and use to move forward in any ways we deem necessary. Now it’s on to Valencia and the final race where we will see the title decided.”