With the Riders’ crown already in Marc Marquez’s hands, the penultimate round of MotoGP, the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit, isn’t going to count for much except for Marquez’s team Repsol Honda trying to seal the Teams’ honors before the finale in Valencia, Spain. In the teams’ standings, Repsol Honda and Ducati are almost neck-to-neck with 408 and 409 points, respectively.
Marquez is looking for a personal best as he guns after a sixth straight Grand Prix victory this season and third at this very track. Meantime, Marquez hunts for more points to dethrone his team mate Jorge Lorenzo for most points scored in a single season. Lorenzo holds the record with 383 points and Marquez so far has 375 points.
Lorenzo has been on the podium seven times at Sepang, but this time around it’s going to be difficult for him to beat the likes of the factory and Satellite Yamahas and Ducatis. He’ll try, nonetheless.
Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci were in town to meet and greet the media at Shell KLIA station, a precursor event by Shell Malaysia. Dovizioso even presented awards to bike mechanics, who are representing their teams at the 2019 Shell Advance Global Masterclass Competition.
Ducati squad have five wins at Sepang in the past: Capirossi in 2005, Stoner in 2007 and 2009 and Dovizioso in 2016 and 2017. Sepang is also the track where Dovizioso obtained his first win with Ducati in the premier class in 2016. Petrucci instead scored his best result in Malaysia on the Pramac Racing Team Desmosedici GP, when he finished in sixth place in 2015 and 2017. However, he might not be a 100 percent due to a crash at Phillip Island which sprained his ankle. Regardless, Dovizioso holds second in the riders standings and Petrucci is fifth, just 7 points adrift of Maveritck Viñales and 14 from Suzuki’s Álex Rins in third.
Fan favorite Valentino Rossi isn’t doing too well this season, but fans here couldn’t care less. He practically has a legion of fans at Sepang. a circuit where he shone many times before. He was looking strong in the fight for the win last year when a crash cut his challenge short. Despite the 2018 mishap, the Doctor’s list of premier class successes in Sepang is impressive. He delighted the fans by snatching victories there in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, he secured second places 2002, 2005, 2014, and 2016, and took third places in 2009 and 2015. This weekend he hopes to add another positive result to the list in order to move up from seventh place in the championship standings.
Vinales is determined to fight at the front again this weekend. The Spaniard climbed onto the Malaysian podium on two occasions in previous years, securing a 125cc win in 2011 and first place in the Moto2 race in 2014. He is yet to claim a premier class MotoGP prize there. Last year he took fourth, his best premier class placement at this track thus far. Viñales currently holds fourth position in the overall rankings, seven points behind the rider in third position.
As usual. practice runs today, then the final practice and qualifying on Saturday. The 20-lap Malaysian GP is scheduled for 3p Local Time on Sunday.