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Down to Valencia: #TheDecider awaits after a tense battle for supremacy at Sepang
Bagnaia makes a huge statement under huge pressure to hold off Bastianini, with Quartararo pulling out a podium to keep the fight for the title alive
Sunday, 23 October 2022
There are few places like Sepang to play a match point. With the humidity hanging heavy in the air and the pressure of potential history just around the corner, lights out for Round 19 added an extra shot of adrenaline. And from there on out, the tension only rose. Two Ducatis, one with the World Championship on the line and another with an entire chess match to decide, escaped into the lead with enough breathing space from the rest to go toe-to-toe. And that they did. The winner, under intense pressure and taking a magnificent seventh victory of the season, was Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), with Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) just coming up short – after pushing his future teammate to the flag. Again.
Completing the podium and taking the title fight to Valencia was Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™). El Diablo bounced back from a tough Saturday to show exactly why he’s the reigning Champion, riding through the pain barrier to a seriously impressive third place to keep himself in it, 23 points back but setting up a final showdown in Valencia.
Bagnaia got the start of his life and braved it out on the brakes to slot into second from the off, gaining seven places to up just behind polesitter Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), with Bastianini already harrying the number 63 – and Quartararo looking for a way past Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). He found one.
Another big shift then occurred up ahead, with Martin suddenly sliding out the lead – giving that lead to Bagnaia. The title was tantalisingly close for the Italian, and Quartararo may have been third but Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) was on a charge behind the number 20, with that plus Bastianini – glued to the back of Bagnaia – making anything possible.
At Turn 4 on Lap 11, another thunderbolt hit. Bastainini was late on the brakes, and through on Bagnaia for the lead of the race he went. Could he break away? The two remained glued together, Bagnaia losing no distance to his future teammate, as the sound of cogs whirring started to ramp up even further. Second sure seemed enough, but would it still be enough on Sunday in two weeks’ time?
The laps ticked down and just before six to go, Bagnaia hit back at the final corner to retake the lead – with Quartararo now looking ahead rather than over his shoulder. The Frenchman was catching the lead duo, with Bezzecchi dropping off the back off the Yamaha. With five to go the gap to from Bastianini to Quartararo was 1.6, and next time round Pecco also led by 0.4 as the number 63 stayed serene.
By two to go, the showdown was clear. Quartararo couldn’t gain too much more time but had a secure third in the bag if he kept it on track. And Bastianini had a serious shot at the win, glued back onto the rear wheel of Bagnaia as the final lap began.
Turn 4 came and went – the earlier passing point – and Bagnaia pounded on. The decisive moment then finally came at Turn 9 as Bastianini got a little close for comfort behind the number 63, losing some metres as he gathered it back up. And that was that, Bagnaia had enough to hold it to the line and takes a 23-point lead to the season finale after a magnificent seventh win of the season. Bastianini was just 0.2 away by the flag after making some statements of his own, with Quartararo doing a phenomenal job to end the race on the rostrum to still be in with a chance at keeping his MotoGP™ crown.
Bezzecchi couldn’t quite stay with Quartararo for third but the Rookie of the Year took another impressive finish in P4, carving out some room for himself too. Australian GP winner Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took fifth, with Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) charging up to sixth by the flag and getting past Marc Marquez late on. Ducati Lenovo Team were also crowned Team World Champions after a tense day at the office!
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) did another Sunday classic for a solid eighth, ahead of Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing). After a tough weekend it was a tough Sunday for the number 41’s last stand in the title fight on his 300th start, and he was classified tenth after a penalty for an aggressive move on him was handed to Morbidelli. The Italian was forced to settle for P11 after 3 seconds were added to his race time, just ahead of Cal Crutchlow (WithU Yamaha RNF) after another impressive performance from the Brit. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) and Raul Fernandez (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) were the final point scorers, with Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) off to a good start before a technical problem forced him into pitlane.
What’s 23 points between two of the best riders of their generation? One spectacular final weekend of the season, that’s for sure. Don’t miss #TheDecider as the Circuit Ricardo Tormo hosts in two weeks – with everything on the line and a Champion certain to be crowned.
MotoGP™ podium L-R: Bastianini, Bagnaia, Quartararo
1 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – 40’14.332
2 Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) – Ducati – +0.270
3 Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – Yamaha – +2.773
Have you ever done a better start in your career?
“No, never, it was incredible. All weekend, I missed all the sessions [practice starts] because in FP3, I crashed, and I didn’t; in Q2, I crashed, and I didn’t. So, I wasn’t so sure about the start. This morning, the two starts weren’t so good, but in the Barcelona test, we did something on the launch system that was good for us, because before, it was very difficult to have a good start, it was wheelie-ing a lot. I did like 23 starts in the Barcelona tests and from that moment, all the starts afterwards were perfect, and today was the best one. When I saw that the reflex on the lights was perfect and the release of the brakes was perfect, I just thought that I was overtaking a row. But then also the first braking zone was a bit risky, but useful.”
How much did the start help calm you down by getting you out of a tricky situation in the first two corners?
“For sure, when I passed the first two corners, I was more calm. I said, ‘Okay, now I can start to adapt my pace.’ Jorge in front of me was pushing a lot and, after two laps trying to follow him, I said, ‘This pace is too much for me.’ I calmed down and was just constant with my pace, and that’s it, that’s what I did. Jorge unfortunately crashed but I think this pace was also meaning more consumption of the rear tyre. In any case, he was doing a really good job. But, the most difficult part of the race was the part when Enea overtook me because I knew that Fabio was third, and today it was important to get as many points possible to arrive in Valencia and be more careful. So, I just tried to understand his pace and then when I saw that my pace was better than his, I just tried to be in front again and braked as hard as possible to prevent any possibility of an overtake. So, it was tough, really tough, but one of the best moments of the season.”
The Bastianini situation cannot be easy to manage…
“No, absolutely, but today my thing was that I was braking so hard. I was losing a bit in the long corners because he was using more lean angle with the bike and was closing the lines with more speed. I was losing a bit of time there but then my braking was very strong and in the last part of the race, it was the thing that let me win the race.”
How are you feeling going to Valencia with a pretty comfortable margin?
“For sure, it will be a different situation. 23 points, I’m just missing two, so I will have to finish 14th if he wins. It’s easy to say now, but it will be very tough because sometimes when you are careful, you have more trouble, you have more mistakes, you have more distractions. I will try just to do a normal weekend like this one, maybe with less crashes – because this weekend, I crashed too much – and be smart, for sure. To work well, to be in the front, and if I have the possibility to win, I will try to win again.”
Are you happy, or disappointed that you did not win?
“I’m happy about my race. I’m not really happy about the last part of the race because my traction was not really good, especially from the exit of the slow corners, and I tried to do all the best to try to overtake Pecco on the last lap, but it was impossible.”
When you passed Bagnaia on Lap 11, did you feel like you could gap him but just did not have the grip?
“At the start, I think my potential was to try to make the gap, but after two or three laps in front, something changed and I lost some confidence on the rear. After that, I was slower and Pecco overtook me again. I pushed really hard to stay really close to him and tried to overtake again, but, nothing.
Did you just sit behind him or did you not have the rear grip?
“I tried to overtake Pecco again on the last lap but it was a little bit dangerous. Sometimes we have to see also there are other questions, and he battles for the Championship, and it’s like this.”
Who do you think for the Championship; Bagnaia or Quartararo?
“I think Pecco will win the Championship in Valencia. He has a lot of points distance over Fabio. Fabio, I think, also had a good race today but I think it will not be easy for him.”
The main mission was to keep yourself in the fight for Valencia, wasn’t it?
“Yeah, I hoped it would not be victory for Pecco, of course, but at least we gave our maximum today. The start was the key point, [and] the first lap. We changed the strategy a little bit compared to Australia when I wanted to keep the tyre fresh for the end. Today, I just pushed myself quite hard at the beginning because our bike is not super-good at saving the tyre, so I had to push for three or four laps until I was in front of Marc, so it was pretty good and I’m happy to get that result today.”
Braking late the first corner was key:
“Yeah, and I saw Pecco was really good in the first braking zone, so I said, ‘I have to make something,’ because, if not, my title chance will fly away, and I did a great first lap. Even if now we were super-far away, I’m not giving up, and I want to finish in a good way in Valencia.”
How hard was it to keep Bezzecchi behind, given a pass would have made Bagnaia Champion?
“In the end, he was one-and-a-half seconds then he came back to three or two tenths from me, but I pushed like hell because, first of all, I knew that if he overtook me and Pecco won, he would have been World Champion. But, especially, I wanted a podium and I knew that if he overtook me, I could not overtake him back. So, let’s see how we handle it, but I’m pretty happy to at least bring the mystery until Valencia.”
How was the broken finger in the race?
“It was not a big crash, but a stupid crash. It was a normal crash but I just broke my finger and, of course, it was really painful but luckily Angel (Charte) took care of me yesterday afternoon so I want to say thanks to him. Of course, adrenaline is a great painkiller and also fighting for that kind of position. I think my finger was something else but as soon as I stopped, right now I feel pain the finger. It doesn’t matter because we gave everything and that’s what we wanted today.”
What are you feeling about going to Valencia?
“I will prepare myself like a crazy man because I know the only solution for me to fight there will be to win. So, it doesn’t matter, but I want to enjoy the Valencia race because I know it’s the last one of the season, and then we’ll see how we do. But I’m feeling like we have to enjoy the Valencia race.”
The Ducati Lenovo Team wins the MotoGP 2022 team title thanks to another stunning victory by Pecco Bagnaia, first across the finish line in Sepang ahead of Enea Bastianini. Sixth Jack Miller
Francesco Bagnaia confirms himself as MotoGP World Championship leader when there is only one race left until the end of the 2022 season. The Ducati Lenovo Team rider increased his championship lead over Fabio Quartararo to 23 points thanks to another extraordinary victory in the Malaysian GP, held this afternoon at the Sepang International Circuit.
Ninth at the start, the rider from Turin was the protagonist of an incredible start, which saw him taking second place already at the first corner, behind fellow Ducati rider Jorge Martin. On lap seven, however, the Pramac Racing Team rider fell, leaving the race lead to Bagnaia, who then had to hold off a fierce Enea Bastianini. The fight between the two compatriots eventually saw the Ducati Lenovo Team rider triumph and thus achieve his seventh win this season and Ducati’s 70th top-class victory. With Bastianini second, the Borgo Panigale manufacturer also brings to 31 the number of podiums scored this year in MotoGP.
On the other hand, Jack Miller finished the race in sixth place. Twenty-first at the end of the first lap after starting on the fifth row, the Australian rider was the protagonist of an incredible comeback that saw him fight for fifth place with Marc Marquez on the final lap. After today’s race, Miller occupies fifth position in the overall standings.
In addition to Francesco Bagnaia’s success, the Ducati Lenovo Team was able to celebrate another important milestone today: in fact, the official Borgo Panigale team secured the MotoGP team title for the second consecutive year.
Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1st
“I think today’s start was probably one of the best of my career. After moving up to second, I tried to manage the race as best I could. In the beginning, Jorge Martin was pushing really hard, but I felt that the rear tyre did not allow me to keep the same pace as him. I stayed calm and waited. The most difficult moment was when Enea Bastianini passed me. When I saw that I was faster, I got back in front and did everything I could to get the win. Today was important since Quartararo was third. There are only two points left to win the title, and in Valencia, we have a really good chance since Fabio will have to win the race, while I can afford even only 14th place, I want to approach the race as if it were a normal race weekend and do my best as always.”
Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 6th
“Racing in Malaysia is always difficult, and today it was even more challenging starting so far back. After the start, I found myself sandwiched in the first corner, finishing 21st. I kept calm and made several overtakes, trying not to make any mistakes. I managed to get behind Marc Marquez on the last lap and even tried to pass him at Turn 4. I am satisfied with my performance today, also considering the condition of my leg after the Phillip Island crash and yesterday’s crash in Q1. Also, it was a great day for the team: we won the team title for the second year in a row, and I am proud to be part of this success.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (General Manager of Ducati Corse)
“Today was a tough race: Pecco was very good, and he won above all thanks to his incredible start. He was able to hold off a really competitive Enea, and it was a good challenge between the two. Now we have to try to keep our feet on the ground. We must get to Valencia with the same concentration we have had so far. On the other hand, Jack made an incredible comeback, and if he had been further ahead, he could have achieved something more. Today we won the team title, an additional achievement to what is turning out to be an incredible season. I’m overjoyed because all the guys deserve it.”
ÁLEX MÁRQUEZ OUTSIDE THE POINTS
IN MALAYSIAN GP
23 October 2022 | Malaysian GP Race
Álex Márquez took 17th position at the Grand Prix of Malaysia in the penultimate round of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider could not find the rhythm or pace he wanted in Sunday’s race, but completed all 20 laps in typically humid conditions to see the chequered flag at the Sepang International Circuit.
The Spaniard impressed in a damp warm-up session in the morning as he finished in 3rd position, just behind brother Marc and Johann Zarco. However, he again struggled in dry conditions during the race, finishing just outside the points positions and will now look to sign off the season in style back on home soil in Valencia.
Álex Márquez – 17th
“It was a difficult Sunday, we knew before the race that in the dry it would be difficult for us and there are many, many problems with the bike. So there was not much we could do, also I had the long lap which made things harder. But I’m happy with myself as I know I gave 100% throughout the weekend and also I want to say thanks to the team as they’re still pushing a lot and helping me, so thanks to all the LCR Team. This is our reality, it’s where the bike is and we need to keep going. There is one (race) to go.”
QUARTARARO SPEEDS TO THIRD PLACE IN SEPANG RACE
Sepang (Malaysia), 23rd October 2022
GRAND PRIX OF MALAYSIA
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli‘s strong opening laps in the Grand Prix of Malaysia were decisive. Quartararo went on to ride to a well-deserved third place podium finish. Morbidelli managed to salvage a top-10 result after a double long-lap penalty but was relegated to 11th with a 3-second sanction.
LOCAL TIME: 15:00 GMT+8
AIR TEMPERATURE: 31°C
TRACK TEMPERATURE: 38°C
WEATHER: CLOUDY / HUMIDITY 57%
MORE CIRCUIT INFO
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo secured a strong third place podium at a crucial moment in the MotoGP World Championship. This result at the Grand Prix of Malaysia moves the championship title fight to the final round of the season. Franco Morbidelli helped his teammate in the early stages of the race and showed incredible pace after his double long-lap penalty. He took the chequered flag in 10th but was handed a 3-second sanction that saw him end up in 11th.
Quartararo didn‘t have a perfect start from P12 but was a demon on the brakes and made up six positions before the first corner. He soon overtook teammate Morbidelli to complete the first lap in fifth position. He then proceeded to hunt down the three riders fighting for second place. With Morbidelli keeping approaching rivals at bay for the first four laps, the Frenchman had a bit of breathing space. With 16 laps remaining, he overtook Marc Marquez, right in time, as the pursuers were approaching.
On lap 7, Jorge Martin crashed out. It meant that the Yamaha man was provisionally on the podium in third place. However, his gap to the now leading duo ahead of him was not decreasing. Instead, Marco Bezzecchi looked to be nearing. But the number-20 rider had the edge at the end of the race. He kept a hot pace going and rode to a stellar third place, 2.773s from first.
Morbidelli held on to his fifth starting position through the tight first corner. He let Quartararo pass and at the same time lost a place to Joan Mir, but not for long. The Italian was the perfect wingman for El Diablo, keeping Mir and Alex Rins behind him as long as possible, before he had to complete the first part of his double long-lap penalty.
The number-21 rider fell back to 10th after the first long lap, to 14th after the second, and rejoined battling with Johan Zarco. He lost a position but gained it back when Martin crashed out. Morbido enjoyed the battle in the mid-pack, making good use of his nimble YZR-M1, and managed to gradually work himself up the rankings. He crossed the finish line in tenth, 20.235s from first. However, he was given a 3s penalty for his overtaking move on Aleix Espargaró, putting him in 11th in the race timesheets.
After today‘s race, Quartararo is still second in the overall standings with a 23-point deficit and a 235 points total, while Morbidelli remains in 19th but now with 36 points. After Round 19, Yamaha are third with 243 points in the Constructor championship, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP place fifth in the Team championship with 271 points.
The team will travel back to Europe and enjoy one week off before the final round of the 2022 season, held at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain from 4-6 November.
We can only be satisfied with our performance today. The odds were against us at this track, but we did some damage limitation and gave it our all to keep the championship fight alive until the final round in two weeks‘ time. Fabio did everything right today. He has a hand injury, yet you would have never guessed it by the way he was riding. He kept his pace over the entire race and couldn‘t have done better. This podium is important for him and the team, because we‘re showing we are not going down without a fight. Franky rode a really impressive race. He helped Fabio in the opening laps to keep the Suzukis behind him for as long as possible before he had to do the long-lap penalties. To come back from that and still take tenth place shows how strong his pace really was today. The 3s penalty in the end puts him in 11th position, but we will focus on the positive side, which is that this was probably his best ride of the season. After a long and busy overseas period, we now travel back to Europe. We have one week to recharge and prepare for battle. No doubt we will give it our all again in Valencia.
I feel so good. It was a long time that I didn‘t get on the podium. I gave my maximum today. I couldn‘t have done better than this. I‘m proud of myself because our main rival had a good day, but we also had a good day in the end. I know exactly where I was losing time today. As for my riding, this was one of my best rides of the season, especially the first laps. I‘m feeling super happy. At least we bring the title fight to Valencia. Even if our chances are super slim, we did everything we could to end the championship fight in Valencia.
I have to be happy about this weekend. I was fast throughout all the practice sessions. I had a really good pace. I was also able to be quick in qualifying, which was the most important thing. I started the race and I needed to do these two long laps. After I cleared out the two penalties, I got back in – I don’t know if my tyres got dirty or something – but I lost some speed and some grip right away. It was difficult to get back up to the speed that I think I possibly could have achieved otherwise. But anyway, I was able to catch up, catch up, and catch up. Then, on the final lap, I got another penalty for normal last-lap overtaking. I’m sorry about that, but in my opinion there was enough space to go into that corner. We can discuss all day long if it was me going towards Aleix, or him towards me. So, finally, I got the penalty. But this doesn’t take away from my good race and good weekend.
Safe points for the Repsol Honda Team in Sepang
An energetic start to the Malaysian GP saw both Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro settle into safe point-scoring positions on a Sunday full of risk.
Predicted thunderstorms did not arrive at the Sepang International Circuit and the 20-lap MotoGP race got underway as clouds filled the sky and the air hung heavy with humidity. From the front row of the grid, Marc Marquez made an impressive initial launch before losing positions into the tight and treacherous Turn 1.
The #93 sat with the leading group for the opening laps and protected his position in the top five. By lap seven he became entangled in a brawl with both Suzuki riders and Bezzecchi, the eight-time World Champion holding the trio off as Miller approached. Their battle for fifth place would carry on until the end of the race with Marquez crossing the line in seventh place, his fourth straight top-ten finish since returning from injury.
Further back, Pol Espargaro made an equally strong start to the race and immediately made up the ground lost due to his penalty from FP1. Like his teammate, Espargaro fought hard in the opening laps to protect his early gains and settled into his rhythm fighting for the remaining points. Taking the flag in 14th, the #44 leaves the flyaways with two more points and prepares for his swansong on the Honda RC213V in Valencia.
Race day was marked by the remembrance ceremony for Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz who sadly passed away.
Now just a single race awaits before the demanding 2022 MotoGP World Championship season comes to an end. A final push for the Repsol Honda Team before preparations for the 2023 season fully consume the team and a chance to enjoy a final race with Pol Espargaro in Repsol Honda Team colours.
“As I said yesterday, what we did in Qualifying was above and beyond and this is more or less what I was expecting from our race. We gave our 100% all race to achieve the best possible result, we started really well but I saw I didn’t have the speed to stay with the leaders. I tried to find my place and avoid taking any unneeded risks and get some good information from the race. I did everything that Honda asked me so I am optimistic they will use this information to improve in the future. Now we can start to prepare for Valencia after a difficult weekend, because here we could see the level of our bike. I think we can be closer in Valencia.”
“It was a hard one today, especially with the temperature. It was not as hot as in previous years but the humidity was really high all the same. We started in P20 and had to be aggressive in the first laps to make up some ground. Finally we were able to get two points here, gaining six places. Now the attention turns to Valencia where I have been strong in the past and I think it will suit our bike better.”
ENEA NARROWLY MISSES ON SEPANG EXPLOIT
#MalaysianGP race. Team Gresini MotoGP and Enea Bastianini had an excellent show of strength at Sepang and once again proved to be among the main protagonists of the season. Another podium came for the #23 – which adds to the already excellent series of accomplishments of 2022 – at the end of a race battled with his soon-to-be teammate and likely next champ Bagnaia.
Bastianini managed both race and tyres well while trying to win after Martin’s early exit from the race. The battle with Pecco was an exciting one, with the 20 points secured today which are going to be key for an overall top-three finish in the season. Enea now only has to rely on himself to achieve this incredible result: one more point on Aleix Espargaró at Valencia would be enough to secure third place.
Fabio Di Giannantonio wrapped up his Malaysian weekend ten laps too early. The rider #49 tucked the front at turn five while battling for a top-15 finish with a big group of riders. The last chance to finish the year on a high will be at Valencia in a fortnight’s time.
2nd – ENEA BASTIANINI #23
“I’m happy, because 20 points are important to continue the chase to Espargaró, but at the same time I’m a little disappointed because when I was at the front, something changed and the feeling with the bike wasn’t the same. We’ll analyse the data to understand what happened… The important thing is that we showed once again to be among the top players in this category. We’ll try to wrap things up the best way at Valencia.”
DNF FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO #49
“I had a good started and maintained my position despite all the coming togethers of the first laps, but I saw immediately that we were losing traction compared to Pol Espargaró, who was ahead of us. Too bad, because we were in the group fighting for a top-15 finish and I pushed hard for this result: unfortunately I lacked feeling with the front-end and I eventually crashed. Now let’s focus on Valencia.”
Birthday Boy Fernandez Finishes 15th in Grand Prix of Malaysia, Gardner Completes Tough Race in 18th
The MotoGP paddock was back racing in Malaysia for the first time in three years today in front of a crowded Sepang International Circuit. Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s riders Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner were starting the nineteenth round of the season from P20 and P22.
No rain showed up today in Malaysia, but this still left warm and humid conditions making it extremely tough for the riders. Spaniard Raul Fernandez, who was celebrating his twenty-second birthday today, took a good start. Within the first couple of laps, he had set his race pace and appeared comfortable. Through challenging track conditions, he managed to pass both Alex Marquez and Maverick Vinales within the final laps to finish fifteenth, with a tenth point in the bag before flying back home after six weeks away.
Remy Gardner did not take an ideal start and lost a few positions at the start, but still managed to complete the first lap in twentieth, his starting position. He progressively set up his pace as he found himself behind his teammate but started losing grip. His rhythm slowed down and he finished the race in eighteenth. Tech3 KTM Factory Racing will now head home for a week of rest before the season’s finale in Valencia, Spain, in two weeks.
“Normally, when it is my birthday during race weeks, I don’t have good races, but for once I am really happy about this year’s. The team did a great job with the bike because I was feeling like I wanted to. We changed the settings for the race and I enjoyed riding the bike like a kid. I am very happy to have scored a point, and I will head home with a really good feeling and looking forward to heading to Valencia in Spain, in two weeks.”
“Today’s race was tough physically. We started ok but I knew it would be difficult with the heat and humidity. I tried to save the tyres as much as I could but the rear was dropping quickly. I gave all I could today.”
“Very tough race here in Malaysia because the weather was very hot and humid, but our two guys had a strong race. One more time, the start was not ideal, but when you start so far down the grid, you can not expect much more unfortunately. Still, they both pushed a lot and grabbed positions, until they were one behind another.
At one point, Remy Gardner suffered rear tyre dropping and lost contact with his teammate. Raul was in a good group following closely the likes of Pol Espargaro and Maverick Viñales, and came back to the pit box saying that he almost collapsed because he was very hot behind them. He did not give up though and passed Viñales within the final laps to finish just behind Espargaro, and scored a deserved point with not so many crashes at the front. This is a great achievement for his team and himself.
Both riders did a good race, and I think that we have seen over the last couple of races the progress made by both Raul and Remy. There is one more round to go, in Valencia in two weeks. They both know the track really well and I hope that we can finish the season on a high note, with both in the points.
Of course, I would like to finish with the sad news that we all heard today as Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz passed away. Many riders of the grid, our own riders, our team and our sport could not have done what we have if it was not for him. We have to remember that this is thanks to people like Didi Mateschitz that we can do what we love, MotoGP racing, and today was dedicated to him. He was with us today.”
Top eight for resilient Binder at Malaysian MotoGP™
MotoGP 2022 – Round 19 of 20, Sepang International Circuit – Race
The penultimate Grand Prix of the season drew MotoGP to the sweltering climes of the Sepang International Circuit and under cloudy skies Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder scored another top ten result to stay within reach of the top five in the championship standings.
Binder enacts another recovery performance by starting 13th and making up five positions
Miguel Oliveira picks up points for a tough outing to 13th
Raul Fernandez rides to one point in 15th for Tech3 KTM Factory Racing
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are 3rd in the Teams Championship standings with one race left in 2022
Morning rainfall in Malaysia caused concern that the nineteenth Grand Prix of the season could be wet for what was the series’ first competitive return to the wide and fast Sepang International Circuit since 2019. Despite the grey clouds and the humidity the 20-lap MotoGP affair remained dry a large 88,000 crowd took their places.
Brad Binder launched his KTM RC16 from 13th on the grid and tried to maximize his feel for traction and grip. The South African was his customary hard and relentless self and bustled his way into the top ten, earning a deserved 8th at the flag. In the formative stages Binder almost counted on teammate Miguel Oliveira for company. The Portuguese started from P18 and was touching 10th position until he then ran into rear grip problems and had to slow his pace. He could not fight for further promotion and accepted 13th.
Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Raul Fernandez was content with a Grand Prix in which he bagged a point with 15th – a distinction for the fifth time this year – and was the lead finisher for the team as Remy Gardner sought effectiveness stickiness, made a couple of mistakes and was narrowly beaten by Alex Marquez for 17th.
After high mileage in trips to Japan, Thailand, Australia and now Malaysia, MotoGP returns to Europe for the curtain-closer. Binder has a 2-point gap over the next nearest rider in 7th but can still catch Jack Miller for 5th in the championship standings. Oliveira is 9th as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing still hold a top three slot in the teams’ competition. The compact and winding Circuito Ricardo Tormo will stage the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana on November 5-6.
Brad Binder: “We learned a lot these last six weeks and had some ‘ups’ as well as some challenging weekends. I need to say thank you to my team because they did an unbelievable job and gave everything every session for me. Unfortunately, the result wasn’t there today and we still need to work to get where we want to be on Sunday afternoons. It is only a matter of time though.”
Miguel Oliveira: “A difficult race. I felt at the beginning I could be fast and made my way into the top ten. I thought that might be a decent result but around lap ten-eleven I started to have issues with the rear tire. I couldn’t stop the bike that well and I ran wide many times by trying to make-up ground. It was frustrating but after so many flyaway races we’re happy to go home and will go to the final race with a lot of motivation. We picked up a win on this trip and a top five finish and that’s what we need to aim for again in Valencia.”
Raul Fernandez: “The team did a great job with the bike because I was feeling like I wanted to. We changed the settings for the race and I enjoyed riding the bike and was riding like a kid. I am very happy to have scored a point, and I will head home with a really good feeling and looking forward to heading to Valencia in Spain in two weeks.”
Remy Gardner: “A tough race and it felt like it was impossible to avoid mistakes because we couldn’t find any rear grip here. It was a similar story in Phillip Island last week. I kept going and kept trying to pass Alex [Marquez] but it was really hard work. Onto the next one.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “A hard day today and for all the good work by the team these days in Malaysia – and through all of these flyaway GPs the last few weeks – we just couldn’t give the riders the best setting to make the most of the grip here. We have to understand how we can improve to give our guys more drive. It was positive that we stayed 3rd in the teams’ championship and we’ll look forward to Valencia and ending the season in the best possible way.”
Petronas Grand Prix of Malaysia MotoGP photos can be downloaded HERE
Results MotoGP Petronas Grand Prix of Malaysia
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 40:14.332
2. Enea Bastianini (ITA) Ducati +0.270
3. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha +2.773
4. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA), Ducati +5.446
5. Alex Rins (ESP), Suzuki +11.923
8. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +16.805
13. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +24.918
15. Raul Fernandez (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +27.039
18. Remy Gardner (AUS), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +33.691
Team Suzuki Press Office – October 23rd
Alex Rins: 5th (+ 11.923)
Joan Mir: 19th (+ 41.838)
The enthusiastic fans turned out in their thousands for MotoGP’s return to action at Sepang, and the first race at the track since 2019 stayed dry for the duration of the 20-lap shoot out.
Alex Rins got a good initial launch off the line but dropped into the pack a little, while Joan Mir dived through from his 11th place grid spot to slot immediately into 7th. As the pack settled down both Suzuki riders were running together, and after being held up for a couple of laps they soon found themselves in a tight group fighting for 5th place. By Lap 7 Mir had moved into a strong 4th, while Rins sat in 7th. After a few more laps had passed, it was Alex who went into battle with the group, gaining an important Top 5 position. However, with gaps in the field and it was the highest place he could achieve with the time remaining. This solid 5th place finish still gives a boost to both rider and team. Joan hit trouble during the race when he started to suffer bad arm pump, and a subsequent run-off with just a handful of laps remaining pushed him further back. He finished a luckless 18th.
Just one race now remains for Team Suzuki Ecstar, at Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia on November 6th where the entire squad will push to go out in style.
“The race wasn’t too bad, but we struggled a lot. I couldn’t get the best start when I released the clutch, and then I got swamped a bit. After that I found that when I was behind other riders I was struggling for grip and a lack of traction on corner exits. I felt the grip level on track was much less than in the practices, and I was not as strong as in the practices on braking, that meant I wasn’t able to show the pace that I’ve shown in the last few days. However, 5th place is not too bad, and it’s more points to solidify my position in the championship.”
“It’s been a disappointing race for me, especially after a good performance on the early laps. I started to suffer with arm pump, which is something I haven’t really experienced before. I had a little bit of it last time we raced here, but nothing very bad, whereas this year I could barely use the lever. I’m extremely disappointed, for myself but also for the team, because we’ve been trying hard and we wanted and needed a good result. I thought I would get a Top 5, which would’ve been a boost, but it wasn’t to be and luck wasn’t on my side again. I’ll consult with the doctors to see if I need surgery in the winter, because it’s horrible.”
Livio Suppo – Team Manager
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a good race for both sides of the garage, in the last couple of races we’ve only felt ‘half happy’ because Alex has done well but Joan has suffered. Let’s hope in Valencia we can have both riders finishing well. Alex did a pretty good race, he has been competitive all weekend and despite not having great grip, he still managed a solid 5th. Joan was also doing a good job but he was affected by arm pump, which is something he hasn’t really had a problem with before, and it cost him. We’ll try to help him find a solution, although arm pump can be tough to fix. Sepang is a very physical track, and Valencia a bit less so, so let’s hope for a strong finish for Joan there.”
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager
“The riders gave 100% but we couldn’t fight for the podium today, and our race pace was not quite as quick as we expected. However, the performance overall wasn’t bad, and Alex managed to get a nice 5th place. Joan was also fighting very well, and he was on course for a good finish, but unfortunately the arm pump happened and he couldn’t do any more. We have just one race left, and we’ll give absolutely everything to get a good result for both riders, who deserve a good send off.”