Viñales outpaces Marquez to rule Sepang
The number 12 keeps cool to turn the tables on Marquez as Dovizioso fights off Rossi for the podium
Sunday, 03 November 2019
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) put in a formidable performance at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix to destroy the opposition, picking up his second win of the 2019 season in emphatic style. The Spaniard raced clear of a recovering second-place Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) fending off Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) for P3.
It was Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) who somehow shot up for the holeshot from the second row, the Aussie bravely heading round the outside to take the lead from front row starter Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as his teammate – and polesitter – Fabio Quartararo lost out. Marquez and Dovizioso, meanwhile, had made lightning starts to move through from P11 and P10 respectively, already well up in the fight at the front. At the very front though, Viñales was already stalking his prey.
It didn’t take long for the number 12 to strike, snatching the lead from Miller at Turn 11 as Marquez passed Morbidelli for P4. A frantic first lap wasn’t over yet though, as Dovizioso then battled Miller for P2 at Turn 14 and Turn 15 and both headed wide – allowing Marquez to pounce. He sat Miller up, but the Australian shot back past heading into Turn 1. That was only good news for Viñales, with the Spaniard already six tenths clear at the front.
Like Australia, Marquez said, he knew he had to try and get in behind the Yamaha to stay with him and it didn’t take too long for him to finally dispatch Miller. Reeling Viñales in, however, looked like a serious mountain to climb this time around, with the gap well over a second. A tenth here and a tenth there got chipped away, but the number 12 machine in the lead had a healthy gap – and wasn’t for slowing down.
It seemed, then, that the fight behind Marquez was going to remain the fight for third. Dovizioso grabbed it from Miller on Lap 4 and Rossi was threatening too, with ‘The Doctor’ finally dispatching Miller not too long after – and the Australian suffering an almighty moment as he hung on to his Ducati.
Shortly after that, things got even more heated between Miller and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) at the final corner as Rins went for the inside and the two made contact. A front bit of fairing flew off the Suzuki and both stayed up, but they were forced to watch the fight for third between Dovizioso and Rossi start to peel off into the distance.
Even further into that distance, the timing screens signalled Viñales had broken his rivals. A second and a half became nearly three as a mistake became the only hurdle between him and the win, with Marquez equally safe in second. And a mistake never came from either, with Viñales pitch perfect to take his – and Yamaha’s – second win of the season and bounce back from Australia in incredible style. Marquez took second and gained an impressive nine places on the way after his Q2 crash.
The fight for third, try as he might, would not go the way of Rossi. Rins had closed in to make matters even closer, and every advance ‘The Doctor’ made on the Ducati was repelled as the Suzuki also started to threaten. Dovizioso, as ever, was a demon on the brakes and the nine-time World Champion just couldn’t make a move stick, although a few lunges at it made for a great battle between the two Italians. ‘DesmoDovi’ took it by a few tenths over the line, with Rossi forced to settle for fourth and Rins completing the top five.
Miller, meanwhile, slipped back into the clutches of the Petronas Yamaha SRT duo and Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu). Morbidelli came out on top in that fight for sixth and he was top Independent Team rider in the race on the team’s home turf, and that combined with Quartararo’s tougher day at the office in seventh nevertheless means Petronas Yamaha SRT are Independent Team Champions too. Miller took P8, and Zarco, sadly, didn’t finish.
The Frenchman showed a big step forward in his second race weekend on a Honda, but it ended early after a pass from Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) went awry, crashing Zarco out of the top ten. Mir would get a Long Lap Penalty for the incident, and that dropped him back below Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), who took ninth.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) battled through to take P11, ahead of a close duel between Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) that went in favour of the Italian. Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) beat Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) to 14th as the two completed the points.
And so we leave Sepang and the flyaways with a new man on top after a run of dominant performances from Marquez. Viñales couldn’t be stopped in Malaysia, will the same be said at Valencia? Find out in two weeks as the paddock flies back to Europe for the season finale and we decide the team Champions and the top Independent Team rider of the year…
Maverick Viñales: “Honestly I have to say this is one of the times in life I’ve been the happiest. After the Australia crash I felt I won the race, because I attacked in my head…but then actually crashed. It was a bit of a disaster but we arrived here with everything clear, the bike was on a great level all weekend from FP1 since the first laps so we pushed, pushed and pushed and made a gap, which was important. I then tried to control the race which wasn’t easy; especially mentally it was very tough, but I have to congratulate the team because all weekend they did an awesome job.”
VIÑALES VICTORIOUS AFTER MALAYSIAN MASTERCLASS
Sepang (Malaysia), 3rd November 2019
GRAND PRIX OF MALAYSIA
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales was dubbed the favourite to win the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, and he pulled through with a dominant victory at the Sepang International Circuit today. Valentino Rossi was also battling for a place on the podium and finished in fourth position.
40’14.632 / 20 LAPS
+5.965 / 20 LAPS
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team are celebrating their second victory of the season today, as Maverick Viñales returned to the top step of the podium with a flawless race at the Sepang International Circuit. Valentino Rossi was also a strong contender, showing solid pace in the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix. He put up a fight for third place and crossed the line in fourth.
Viñales did exactly what he had planned yesterday. He had a good start, hung on in second place through the first corners and soon battled his way to the front. Once he hit the number-one spot, the Spaniard was off and gradually built a solid lead of 1.5s.
The number-12 rider’s campaign was all about focus. Riding on his own in the hot and humid Sepang conditions, he had to remain fully concentrated as he set the pace and managed the gap to Marc Marquez in second place. Viñales didn’t put a foot wrong all race and took a text-book victory, with a 3.059s advantage over second.
The Yamaha rider dedicated the win to the late Indonesian rider Afridza Munandar, who was his favourite in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup. Yamaha once again extend their sincere condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Munandar.
Rossi was hyping up the fans from the grid before the start and gave them more to cheer about during the race. He was in a busy part of the pack, starting from sixth, and emerged from the first corners in ninth place. He didn’t stay there for long though. The Doctor carried some serious early race pace and went in swinging, taking just seven laps before he overtook Miller in Turn 9 for fourth.
With eight laps to go, the Italian started to ask questions from Andrea Dovizioso in third place. With Álex Rins approaching and three laps to go, Rossi was trying to make moves on the rider in front of him but wasn’t quite able to make it is stick. He finished in fourth place, 5.965s from first.
Viñales‘ brilliant win moves him up to third place in the championship standings. Rossi holds seventh in the overall rankings, six points behind the rider in sixth place. Yamaha maintains third position in the constructor standings, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP also stay in third place in the team classification.
The team will now enjoy a week’s rest after three consecutive GPs, before they return to action at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo for the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana, held from November 14th – 17th.
“What a superb win! Maverick has been strong all weekend, and his confidence was really high, but he had quite the task ahead of him. Breaking away from the rider field early on was his strategy from the start, but it‘s never easy. He executed it perfectly though. His riding was outstanding during the whole race, and to take the win by such a distance is incredibly rewarding. It‘s well-deserved for both him and the team. They have been working non-stop these last few weeks. This victory tastes even sweeter after he came so close last weekend, and it moves him up to third in the championship standings, which is a nice extra benefit. The only thing that could have made this day even better was if Vale would have been able to get a place on the podium too. He came so close to third place but just missed out because of the lack of top speed. Anyway, he rode a very solid race and definitely didn‘t stop trying. It was good to see him keep up his pace without too much trouble with tyre degradation, even if fourth place was the maximum result for him today. This weekend has been a great moral boost, because both riders were competitive. We now get to rest a bit before we go to Spain for the final round of the season in Valencia in two weeks‘ time, where we hope to put on a good show again!”
“It was an incredible race. We prepared for the race really well all weekend. I felt I had a big potential after the first lap. I took the lead after the first two splits and I kept pushing, pushing, and pushing. Honestly, I’m so happy. We did a good job. What a shame in Australia, because that was a race where I felt I had a lot of potential too, but being in first place here is amazing. I would like to dedicate this race to Munandar, the kid that passed away yesterday. He was my favourite in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup. I offer my condolences to all the family.”
“I had a good start, but then on the first straight some riders overtook me. After that I was very competitive. I managed to set the fastest race lap, a new track record, and made several overtakes, until I got close to Dovizioso. Together with Dovizioso we had a good fight. It was very nice. I was a little better in the twisty parts of the track, but Dovizioso was faster on the straights. I hoped that I could be quicker on the last laps, but I couldn’t. We are faster in the turns, but it is also true that we stress the tyres more when we are cornering. So, at the end I wasn’t as fast as I was at the beginning, but I’m happy because the degradation was less than usual. At the end I’m satisfied, because during this weekend I rode well, and I learned a few things. We are making improvements, trying to use all the potential of the M1. At the end I managed to keep off Rins, but I’m very sorry because I didn’t make the podium, then I would have been even happier. Now we will do our best in Valencia.”
UNLUCKY RACE FOR CRUTCHLOW ON MALAYSIAN SOIL
PRESS RELEASE: 03 November 2019 | Malaysian GP
The Malaysian Grand Prix ended in frustration for Cal Crutchlow as he crashed out late on at the Sepang International Circuit. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider had high hopes of repeating his podium finish at Phillip Island in the last round after qualifying on the second row, but struggled to recover after making a bad start to Sunday’s race.
From fifth on the grid, the Briton found himself crowded out at the first corner and lost a number of positions. Although he tried to battle back, he was unable to find the rhythm he wanted and eventually crashed out at turn 15 with six laps to go, when in 12th place.
Cal Crutchlow – DNF
“Today was a difficult race, we’re very disappointed with the result of crashing out of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Today I got a really bad start and on the first lap found myself really far back in the field already. I tried to make progress and I was in a group that eventually finished around eighth place, but I had a bad feeling with the tyres today and didn’t feel good grip from the track or with our bike setting. Over the weekend I felt we’d made progress and could have had a good result today, but after the bad start I struggled to have the pace of going with the front guys. With the crash, I made a small mistake in the braking as I was trying everything to find the grip with the front tyre and unfortunately I locked the front. But we’d had a good last few races and now we look forward to the season finale in Valencia.”
Scintillating second for record-point scorer Marquez in Malaysia
Comeback-king Marc Marquez continued to break records in Sepang, his 395 points after finishing second becomes the highest points scored in a single MotoGP season. Jorge Lorenzo, the previous holder of the record, returned to the points with 14th.
After the unfortunate loss of Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup rider Afridza Munandar on Saturday, the MotoGP Championship rallied together to remember him with fantastic racing at the Sepang International Circuit.
There was no stopping Marc Marquez who bounced back from his biggest crash of the year to put in a champion’s performance. Lightning off the line, the 55-time MotoGP race winner gained six positions in the first two corners alone and ended the first lap in second place. With nine places gained, the reigning World Champion settled in behind Jack Miller for a short while. After muscling past the Australian, Marquez began to work on closing the 1.6 second gap to Viñales.
With the gap not reducing after several laps in the 1’59s, Marquez eased his pace to take a well-earned second place in the blazing Malaysian heat. Returning to Europe with 395 points, Marquez now holds the record for most points scored in a single season and passes Jorge Lorenzo’s record of 383 World Championship points from 2010.
The result in Malaysia also earns Marquez the honour of being the first rider in history to score 17 MotoGP class podium finishes in a single season, extending his unbroken run of top-two finishes to 15. Marquez’s last finish outside of the top two came at the Czech GP in 2018 when he was third.
Sunday in Sepang proved to be more difficult than predicted for Jorge Lorenzo, but the Repsol Honda Team rider was able to return to the points for the first time since Misano with a 14th place finish. The result also saw him halve his distance to the winner compared to Phillip Island, a return to the form he showed in Motegi.
With both riders in the points, the Repsol Honda Team sit just two points behind the Ducati Team in the Team Championship with one round still to go as they hunt the Triple Crown.
Both Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo will attend Honda’s EICMA presentation in Milan. Then, after an intense period of four races in five weeks, teams and riders are afforded a week off before the final round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship begins in Valencia on November 14.
“It was an incredible race, a great first lap. Maybe the best of my career, alongside Mugello 2015 – I watched this lap last night to see what I did! It was a very nice first lap but unfortunately the tyre dropped a lot in those first three laps and I lost a little time with Miller. Viñales was faster than us today and the target was the podium. I tried to do like in Phillip Island and stay right behind him but the gap was too big at 1.1 seconds and I made a mistake and dropped back. I’m happy with my race, but you can’t imagine how happy I am for my brother’s victory – he deserves it so much. It’s an incredible day but we also have to remember Munandar, a young and talented rider who we unfortunately lost. A big hug to his family and friends.”
“At the start of the race it was very difficult with the other riders around, the turbulence disturbed my pace a lot. But there are some positives because I was able to be within seven tenths of my best lap time for the whole race. Obviously, we are still not fast enough but we are getting closer and closer to the goal of being 30 seconds from the winner after my crash in Assen. The two points we earned are important to help the team fight for the Team Championship in Valencia, this is the main objective now.”
Alex Marquez crowned Moto2™ World Champion in Malaysia
The Spaniard becomes the first ever to win the Moto2™ and Moto3™ crowns
Sunday, 03 November 2019
After an impressive season in the intermediate class, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) has made some history in the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, taking second place to crown himself 2019 Moto2™ World Champion and become the first ever to take both the Moto2™ and Moto3™ crowns. The number 73 has taken five wins, 10 podiums and six poles this season so far.
Marquez debuted on the world stage in 2012, the same season he would go on to win the FIM CEV Spanish national title. He made three Grand Prix wildcard appearances with Estrella Galicia 0,0, impressing early on as he took sixth place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after fighting at the front. At Indianapolis, Marquez also took over from Simone Grotzkyj at Ambrogio Next Racing, with whom he’d make eight appearances and take another top ten before the year was out.
For 2013, Marquez moved up to Moto3™ full time with Estrella Galicia 0,0 and a first podium wasn’t too long in coming as the Spaniard got on the box at Indianapolis. Before the season was out, Marquez would also become a Grand Prix winner, coming out on top at a track that would go on to see him take a few more successes: the Twin Ring Motegi. 2014, then, seemed like game on for a shot at the crown.
Now on Honda machinery but with the same team, the season became a duel between Marquez and Jack Miller that went right down to the wire and a crucial decider in Valencia. Marquez took the crown, with three wins and seven further podiums enough to wrap it up on home turf and take his first title.
From there, the intermediate class beckoned with EG 0,0 Marc VDS. It was a tougher rookie season, but Marquez took regular top tens and took a best finish of fourth twice in a row. The following year began almost tougher than the first, but Marquez pulled it together mid-season and took his first intermediate class podium on home turf at Aragon. The next step was clear: a win.
That came in 2017 as Marquez took a step forward to become a regular frontrunner, taking top fives and podiums more often than not. He also took his first wins in Moto2™ – the very first proving a demolition job at Jerez from his first pole in the class. Two more victories rounded out the year – Barcelona-Catalunya and Motegi – and Marquez was fourth overall despite a mid-season injury that saw him sit out Misano.
In 2018, Marquez was expected to challenge for the title but the season was an unexpectedly tougher one. The number 73 didn’t take a win, although he did take another six podiums and remain a threat at the front. Would 2019 be any different? Most definitely.
The year began with a more muted race in Qatar but a first podium came in Argentina to kick off Marquez’ real challenge. Top gear would be hit a little later in the year but not without a couple of hurdles – the first of which was getting crashed out of the race in Jerez after a front row start. 0 scored on his first visit to home turf, the time was nigh to fight back – and so began a stunning run of victories.
At Le Mans, Mugello and Catalunya, Marquez ruled for his first ever three-in-a-row, and he looked able to make it four at Assen before getting crashed out there. Undeterred, the number 73 took up right where he left off in Germany and Czechia, taking another two victories.
Three more podiums in the next four races and only one self-made mistake at Silverstone saw Marquez remain the man in charge, with an advantage that made the flyaways pivotal. A fifth and sixth at Buriram and Motegi were enough to give him a first match point at Phillip Island, but it was a longer shot and after a P8 in the race, the battle rolled on to Malaysia…
From pole, Marquez put together an impressive race, duelling for the lead with key rival Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and holding off his closest challenger Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) under immense pressure. Taking second place and yet another podium, his tenth visit to the rostrum was enough to secure him the crown.
The 2019 Moto2™ World Champion is Alex Marquez!
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team have clinched the 2019 MotoGP Independent Teams championship in front of a home crowd at the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, with Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo coming home sixth and seventh at the Sepang International Circuit to win the title in their rookie season.
Morbidelli was able to make a strong start from third on the grid, getting involved in the fight for the podium in the opening laps of the race. Unable to quite match his blistering pace from practice in the hotter race day conditions, he was able to secure sixth and defend his position from the advances of his team-mate Quartararo until the chequered flag. Coming home as best Independent Team rider, it means that PETRONAS Yamaha SRT now holds an unassailable 77-point lead in that championship with one race remaining.
Polesitter Quartararo also found himself unable to fully convert his practice form into success in the race, spending the entire 20 laps inside the top ten but unable to launch a podium challenge of his own. Taking home a solid seventh-place finish behind his team-mate, he not only helped secure valuable points for the squad but also extended his own lead in the Independent Riders’ championship, with 23 points in hand going into the final round of the championship. He also remains sixth in the overall riders’ World Championship.
The 2019 MotoGP season will conclude in two weeks’ time at the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana, with track action getting underway on 14th November and race day on Sunday 17th November.
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“It has been an incredible first Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix for PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team as a squad represented across all three classes. The support at Sepang International Circuit was phenomenal and we thank everyone who came to cheer us on. On track, we had mixed results today. In Moto3, John McPhee was hampered after a racing incident so wasn’t able to fight for the podium. Ayumu Sasaki showed good pace but unfortunately finished the weekend with a broken hand. Adam Norrodin was also doing quite well in the Moto2 race until he crashed too. In the MotoGP race, Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo weren’t able to capitalise on their first and third positions on the grid – but we were able to take the best Independent Team award, to extend Fabio’s lead in the Independent Riders’ award, and to stay ahead of Suzuki in fourth in the overall team championship so there’s plenty of reason for good home cheer! We’re already looking forward to finishing the final round of the championship strongly in Valencia.”
“In many ways, it was a fantastic weekend as we were very fast with both Franco and Fabio on Friday and Saturday, and then we secured the Independent Team trophy on Sunday. This was one of our targets for the season so it is a real accomplishment for us to achieve this. Of course, we aren’t completely happy with the race results; if you’re on the front row of the grid then for sure you don’t expect to be sixth and seventh, but we head to Valencia with more experience and we hope to be fighting right at the front once more.”
“We can’t complain, because it was a good weekend all round even if we were expecting a little more from the race. I didn’t quite have the right feeling when we got going though, which is something we need to investigate – but even with that, we were able to bring the bike to the end in sixth place and as the top Independent Team rider. I was losing something in acceleration to the other guys, and then having to ride harder in braking to make up the difference. We’ve got one race left in Valencia to try and get that podium finish at long last.”
“It was a really tough race, and I struggled a lot. My first lap was a disaster, and I couldn’t stop the bike – which is an issue we haven’t had all weekend. We couldn’t make the result we wanted despite having the pace to fight for much better, and we have to figure out why that was the case. We’ve got one more race to go this year and we need to focus on that so that we can go out well at Valencia, especially as we’re going there much more experienced than we were twelve months ago when we tested there.”
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Sepang (Malaysia), 3 November 2019
POINTS FOR ALEIX AT THE END OF A TROUBLED RACE
ANDREA IANNONE CRASHES WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES
The race ridden on the torrid asphalt of Sepang (Malaysia) was not a simple one. Aleix Espargaró, who started from the fourteenth spot on the grid, managed to move his way up the field just outside the top 10 before losing two positions in the battles that took place in the race finale. In spite of a good race pace, the Spaniard’s performance was limited by the difficulty overtaking.
Teammate Andrea Iannone was also riding a decent race, battling for a finish in the points. Unfortunately, too much time spent in the slipstream heated up the front tyre and he ended up having a crash on turn 9, harmless for the Italian, but enough to put him out of the action.
“I cannot be pleased with this race, especially because I had a decidedly better pace than my finishing position reflects. Unfortunately, our limitations in acceleration make it very difficult to overtake. I lost time today behind Bagnaia and in the battle with Pol. In the end, I limited the damage, even in terms of gap. Now we’ll prepare our best for Valencia and next season.”
“It was a strange race. I didn’t have a bad pace, but I was slow in speed, staying in the slipstream for a long time and things did not improve. The temperatures began to rise, including the front tyre temperature, and I struggled until the crash. We have work to do, but I have peace of mind. I’ll be ready when we are able to make an important step forward.”
ZARCO DENIED AFTER IMPRESSIVE RIDE AT SEPANG
PRESS RELEASE: 03 November 2019 | Malaysian GP
An unfortunate collision just three laps from the end denied Johann Zarco a deserved top 10 finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday. In only his second appearance for the LCR Honda IDEMITSU team, the Frenchman – who is replacing Takaaki Nakagami for the final three races of the season – had produced a superb ride before being taken out late on by Joan Mir at the Sepang International Circuit.
After qualifying in ninth, Zarco got away well and maintained his position throughout, enjoying a competitive battle for eighth with Ducati’s Jack Miller. However, three laps from the end, when looking to get past the Australian, Zarco was hit from behind by Mir after a poorly-judged overtaking manoeuvre, with the Spaniard subsequently handed a long lap penalty.
Johann Zarco – DNF
“I must be happy about the race. I had good pace and I was back fighting with good guys. I still need to make another step to understand the bike better and ride this Honda better, but I feel there’s good potential that I can go faster and be with the top guys. Today has been a good race, it’s always difficult in Malaysia with the warmth, but I was giving my best and controlling things quite well. I had a good fight with Jack Miller for eighth position, I was a bit faster than him and tried to overtake him many times, but he was fighting hard. Then I tried to overtake him again three laps from the end and Joan Mir on the Suzuki tried an extreme overtake and totally pushed me away and I could not control the bike. It’s a shame, but what I keep in mind is that I was back in a good feeling and in a better position, so I need to keep pushing and learning and hopefully we’ll get a good result in Valencia.”
Espargaro takes 11th position at Sepang as Binder wins Moto2 again
MotoGP 2019 Round 18 of 19, Sepang International Circuit (MAL) – RACE
Red Bull KTM emerged from the penultimate round of 2019 MotoGP in Malaysia with Pol Espargaro scoring five points for 11th position. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder captured his fourth Moto2 victory of the season and sits second in the championship standings.
The 21st Grand Prix to be hosted by the Sepang International Circuit took place in typically hot and humid conditions. The eighteenth round of nineteen this season was also the third in three weeks for the busy MotoGP paddock after trips to Japan and Australia.
Pol Espargaro set off from 15th position on the grid with his KTM RC16 after two days trying to find effective rear wheel grip around the 5.5km layout. The Spaniard launched into a position on the edge of the top ten and then proceeded to push hard throughout the 20-lap distance. He fought with his brother, Aleix, and also withstood the presence of Francesco Bagnaia in 30+ degree temperatures to bring the #44 machine across the finish line in 11th place. Espargaro’s classification represented significant progress for the team. Not only did their form and pace improve across the weekend but the 2019 race time was over 30 seconds faster and almost 18 seconds closer to the winner compared to 2018.
Red Bull KTM teammate Mika Kallio was a few positions further back and was extremely close – just two tenths of a second – from relegating former five-times world champion Jorge Lorenzo. The Fin, in 15th, was still able to secure a point for the second time in five races.
Sepang represented a frantic home fixture for Red Bull KTM’s Hafizh Syahrin. The Malaysian set-off from 21st on the grid and worked his way to 16th, cheered on by large sections of the 103,000 crowd.
Teammate Miguel Oliveira pulled out of the Grand Prix after attempting Free Practice on Friday. The Portuguese was suffering with pain in his hands and right shoulder after his crash in Phillip Island the previous weekend. Oliveira returned to Europe for consultation on the shoulder joint and underwent reparative surgery on damaged ligaments Sunday morning in Austria. He will not participate in the last event of the season.
Pol Espargaro: “It was not like a European race where we are fighting for a top ten, normally, but to come from where we did on Friday means I am pleased. There was a lot of set-up [work] and thinking going on during the nights and the team have done a very good job. It is amazing to turnaround the weekend like we did. We were improving much more than the others. Now to the final race and then Valencia will be a fun test and Jerez as well: the new engine is coming, the new chassis is coming, the whole package. It looks very promising.”
Mika Kallio: “If we think about the feeling on Friday then it was already a bit better yesterday but we were still suffering quite a lot. For me it was a case of not being able to get the best out of the tyres. I started the race quite well and managed to gain a few positions and reached the group where Pol was riding but saw I didn’t have much of a chance to stay there. I lost a lot of time on the fast sections and corners. I just couldn’t follow them and it’s a shame. Now to Valencia and it is always nice to finish the season – hopefully – in a good way.”
Hafizh Syahrin: “The race itself was very hard and, for sure, very emotional for me, as – for the moment – it was my last home Grand Prix in the MotoGP class but I will return with the Moto2. I hope all the fans enjoyed the race here, I couldn’t do more. I appreciate all the support a lot and I want to say a huge thank you to my team, who were there for me from my first moment on, worked hard and never got tired to help me. I really enjoyed this moment and I hope I can come back strong next year.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “We started the weekend in a tough way and with problems to find grip with the rear tyre. So we had to work hard to find the right setting, which we did session-by-session but we were not ready in time for qualifying and for a good grid position. From P15 we knew it would be hard for Pol to fight for a single digit result but we saw in morning warm-up when he was 9th that we’d made a step and that gave him confidence. Mika helped us a lot because he tried some ideas we had to make the bike better. In the end it was a hard race for everybody but mid-distance we had times similar to the group pushing for sixth-seventh but we were not part of that front group ‘train’. It was tricky to stay on two wheels and it is always hard to find the limit on this track. We have to thank Mika for his work and in the end he got a point and it was a shame that Hafizh just missed out. We are happy with the outcome even if we didn’t meet our usual target. We missed Miguel from FP1 onwards, which didn’t help us going forward with the bike. We wish him all the best because it looks like he will miss Valencia. We hope he will be back strong as soon as possible.”
Moto2 & Moto3
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder reigned supreme in Moto2 after a race-long duel with Alex Marquez, who went on to claim the Moto2 title. The South African kept consistent with his pace at the front of the field in the second half of the 18-laps to bring home his fourth triumph of 2019 and his eighth rostrum trophy. The feat lifted the 2020 MotoGP-bound athlete to second place in the series standings by just 4 points over Thomas Luthi. Jorge Martin could not extend his bright run of results to three consecutive podium finishes. The Spaniard slid out of the Grand Prix in the formative stages.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta won the Moto3 Grand Prix by just half-a-second. The best-placed KTM belonged to Jaume Masia who dramatically took his RC4 from last on the grid to 3rd place.
Brad Binder: “Today we did all we could. Alex rode an incredible race, congratulations to him but we’ve got to be happy to take the win. I was struggling with the front end from lap one; the track was unlike anything we’d had all weekend. It was so easy to wash the front. I was watching the TVs and the board to see the gap between Alex, Tom and I. It was such a hard race to try and understand how much you could push the front. I tried my best. All in all it was an incredible weekend and I’m looking forward to Valencia.”
2019 MotoGP will close with the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Spain in two weeks time.
Next race: November 17th, Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, Spain
Download the 2019 Shell Malaysia Motorcycling Grand Prix photo gallery HERE
Results Race MotoGP Sepang International Circuit 2019
1. Maverick Viñales (ESP), Yamaha 41:14.632
2. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda +3.059
3. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA), Ducati +5.611
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Yamaha +5.965
5. Alex Rins (ESP), Suzuki +6.350
11. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM +24.821
15. Mika Kallio (FIN), Red Bull KTM +34.461
16. Hafizh Syahrin (MYS), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +44.319
DNS. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3
Syahrin misses out on home GP points narrowly
Local hero Hafizh Syahrin did a steady race in front of his home crowd today at the Sepang International Circuit. Starting from the back of the grid, he managed to make up a position already on the first lap of the physically ultra-demanding race and could keep his pace until the end, which made him cross the line for the Malaysia GP in 16th position.
At the same time, Miguel Oliveira is set to undergo surgery today. Following his right shoulder injury in Silverstone and another heavy fall during the Australian GP, the Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider is currently in hospital Sanatorium Kettenbrücke in Innsbruck, Austria where Dr. Karl Golser will perform operation on his damaged ligaments.
“The race itself was very hard and for sure, it was very emotional for me, as for the moment it was my last home Grand Prix in the MotoGP class, but I will return with the Moto2. I hope all the fans enjoyed the race here, I couldn’t do more and I’m really sorry to everybody. I was already over 100%, but apparently, we are limited. I wanted to stay on the bike and it was tough. I appreciate all the support a lot and I want to say a huge thank you to my team, who were there for me from my first moment on, worked hard and never got tired to help me. I really enjoy this moment and I hope I can come back strong next year.”
“It was an emotional race for the entire Red Bull KTM Tech3 team and at the same time the last race for Hafizh Syahrin in MotoGP here in Malaysia for now. We know how much he was willing to race in front of his home crowd and we saw how much the crowd was supporting him and cheering for him, so I’m glad he could have an ok race. I think the last lap of celebrations was full of emotions. We are happy to have given that feeling to the crowd, to have given that possibility to Hafizh. He has done a steady race, but more than the race, I would like to thank him for what he did with us for these past two years. Still we got one race to go in Valencia, but that one was very special for him and for us. It’s been a good moment and I’d like to thank him for what he did and for being such a nice guy as well as such a great ambassador for MotoGP in his home country Malaysia. Regarding Miguel, as most of you have been informed, he is having an operation today in Europe on his right shoulder injured in Silverstone, following a crash. We are just hoping that everything is going to be fine. That was by far the best solution and we know he will be fully recovered within maximum two months, so he will miss Valencia, but he will be absolutely fit for the first tests in Sepang, which was the main point. I’d like to thank him a lot, because since Silverstone he’s riding in a lot of pain, he never gave up. He didn’t want to talk too much about it, but I know he was in a lot of pain, which is always a handicap and Miguel is a true gentleman, a real fast MotoGP rider. His rookie season was not easy, but he showed speed and a huge commitment, so we just can’t wait to see him back on the bike with full fitness.”