MotoGP Race Preview: Grand Prix of Malaysia
Race: Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix
Date: Sunday, Oct. 21
Round: Sixteenth of 18 races in 2012
Circuit: Sepang International Circuit, Sepang, Malaysia
Distance: 21 laps on 15-turn, 3.447-mile circuit
2011 Winner: The race was canceled due to the death of rider Marco Simoncelli from an accident on the second lap. 2010 Winner: Valentino Rossi
2012 Points Leader: Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha
U.S. Riders: Nicky Hayden, ninth, 101 points; Ben Spies, 10th, 88; Colin Edwards, 17th, 25.
TV: MotoGP: 4 a.m. & 3:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Oct. 21, SPEED.
Moto2: 4:30 p.m. (ET), Sunday, Oct. 21, SPEED.
Moto3: Noon (ET) Tuesday, Oct. 23, SPEED.
Dani Pedrosa shaved five points from Jorge Lorenzo’s lead in the MotoGP World Championship on October 14, reducing the gap to 28 points after winning the Grand Prix of Japan.
Pedrosa gradually built a commanding lead on his Repsol Honda and took the checkered flag 4.275 seconds ahead of Lorenzo for his second consecutive win at Motegi, and fifth MotoGP win of the season.
With only three races remaining, Lorenzo remains the heavy favorite to win his second MotoGP World Championship, while Pedrosa faces the daunting task of needing to win each of the remaining events to have any chance of catching his Spanish countryman.
Jorge Lorenzo: In a remarkable display of consistency, Lorenzo has finished first or second in 14 of 15 races this season on his Yamaha Factory Racing motorcycle. His only non-podium finish this season came in June at TT Assen when he was involved in a first turn crash with Alvaro Bautista. Lorenzo returns to Sepang where his third place-finish in 2010 clinched that year’s MotoGP world title. While not likely, Lorenzo has a mathematical chance of clinching the 2012 title this weekend in Sepang.
Dani Pedrosa: In riding his Repsol Honda to four wins in the last five MotoGP races, including the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 19, Pedrosa carries a great deal of
momentum into the final races of the season. However, in trailing series leader Lorenzo by 28 points, Pedrosa has little choice but to hope his winning ways continue this weekend in Sepang and through the final races of the season if he is to avoid being the MotoGP Championship runner-up for the third time in his career.
Nicky Hayden: The 2006 MotoGP World Champion suffered a concussion and broken hand in a crash in August at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, and a broken wrist on Sept. 30 in a crash at the Grand Prix of Aragon, and is searching for a positive result heading into the last three events of the year. Hayden, who finished eighth last Sunday at Motegi, has yet to post a podium finish at Sepang in his career, although he has finished fourth on five occasions; 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2008.
Valentino Rossi: Although seven-time MotoGP World Champion Rossi has endured nearly two seasons of difficulty since joining forces with Ducati, the Grand Prix of Malaysia has historically favored his riding. In 11 MotoGP starts at Sepang he’s compiled nine podium finishes and six wins. Rossi’s win at Sepang in 2010 was the last time he stood on the top step of the podium. His most recent podium appearance came with his runner-up finish last month at the Grand Prix of San Marino.
NEWS and NUMBERS
This is the first time MotoGP is competing at Sepang since rising Italian star Marco Simoncelli was killed there in an accident in October 2011. The race was canceled after the incident
Sepang is one of just four current circuits where Jorge Lorenzo has not had a MotoGP win. The others are Sachsenring, Aragon and Phillip Island
Two-time MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner returned from injury last week in Motegi on his Repsol Honda after missing three races. He scored a fifth-place finish after starting seventh on the grid. Stoner compiled 280 points in the 2008 season in finishing second in the world championship to Valentino Rossi, which is the highest ever score by a rider not winning the MotoGP world title. The record will soon be held by either Jorge Lorenzo or Dani Pedrosa, who have already topped 280 points this year
At the Japanese Grand Prix all three riders on the MotoGP podium were from Spain (Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Alvaro Bautista), which marked the first time that’s happened in the 64-year history of MotoGP
Yamaha has been the most successful manufacturer in the MotoGP class at Sepang with five victories. Ducati riders have won on three occasions and Honda has had a single victory
Marc Marquez has a lead of 53 points in the MotoGP2 Championship standings and there are a variety of scenarios in which he could win the title in Malaysia. If he wins at Sepang, Marquez, at the age of 19 years 247 days, will become the third youngest rider of all-time to win the MotoGP2 world title, after his fellow Spaniards Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo
Despite crashing on the last lap at Motegi, Sandro Cortese remains in a great position to win the MotoGP3 title, and it could happen in Sepang if a variety of circumstances take place. Cortese can become the first German champion in the lightweight class since Dirk Raudies in 1993.