Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport MotoGP News
Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, Race Report, October 25th 2015
Pedrosa wins in Sepang as championship fight takes an incredible twist
Dani Pedrosa took his second victory in three races ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, but Rossi will be forced to start from back of the grid in Valencia after a dramatic clash with Marc Marquez.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa rode a brilliant race at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix to take his 51st GP victory in front of 88,000 fans, with Jorge Lorenzo finishing ahead of his title rival Rossi to reduce the Doctor’s lead in the standings to just 7 points with one race left. Pedrosa led from flag to flag to win by 3.612s in hot and humid conditions (track temp. 47˚C) at the Sepang International Circuit, but his victory was overshadowed by an incredible clash between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez that saw the latter crash out. Race Direction reviewed the incident after the race and awarded Rossi three penalty points and he will be forced to start the final race of the season from the back of the grid due to the accumulation of a total of 4 points (1 from Misano and one from this event).
Pole man Pedrosa enjoyed a brilliant start and led into turn 1 from his teammate Marquez and Rossi. Lorenzo, who was starting from 4th, dropped back to sixth in the first corner but recovered to put an incredible double pass on the Ducati Team GP15’s of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. He then set his sights on the man he trailed by 11 points in the standings before the race began, catching Rossi and making a move at the start of the second lap into turn 1.
On lap 3 Marquez ran wide at turn 15 allowing Lorenzo into second, and suddenly Marquez had fallen into the grasp of Rossi in 4th. The atmosphere in the sold out grandstands became electric as Rossi was up against the man he had accused of trying to help Lorenzo win the title.
While Pedrosa and Lorenzo focused on opening up a gap on their teammates at the front, Rossi and Marquez became embroiled in one of the battles of the season. The two riders overtook each other it seemed, at almost every corner allowing the two men at the front to disappear off into the distance. While Pedrosa was managing the gap at the front beautifully, Lorenzo had opened up a lead of 2.7s over Marquez in third by lap seven.
Then came one of the most sensational moments of the year, as Rossi once again passed Marquez for third at turn 10 on lap seven. Marquez immediately fought back through turns 11 & 12 with Rossi then responding through turn 13 before appearing to run Marquez wide on the exit of turn 14 and making contact with the Spaniard. Marquez crashed out as a result and was forced to retire in an incident that left the reigning MotoGP™ champion fuming and one which will be reviewed by Race Direction. The incident could have huge implications on deciding where the 2015 title ends up with Rossi forced to start from the back of the grid at Valencia. It will go down in history as one of the most sensational pieces of drama in the history of MotoGP™ and will forever be remembered as the #SepangClash.
While all of this was going on Lorenzo in second had managed to open up a 5.6s gap to Rossi, something that try as he might, Rossi could not make an impact on. After all of the early drama, the rest of the race seemed almost an anti-climax.
At the front Pedrosa had managed his tyres and pace perfectly, extending his advantage on almost every lap. He went on to take his second win of the season by over three and half seconds from Lorenzo, who made it four podiums in a row and 11 for the season by finishing in second. Rossi crossed the line in 3rd a further 10 seconds behind Lorenzo, but will have an incredible fight on his hands to lift his tenth title at Valencia after the penalty. Rossi also decided not to attend the post-race Press Conference.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith pulled off a superb result, crossing the line in fourth after he started from 9th on the grid. He had enjoyed a great battle with his compatriot Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda for the honours of leading Satellite rider. Smith eventually got the better of the Honda when Cal ran wide at turn 15 with 9 laps to go, with Smith eventually crossing the line almost 5 seconds ahead of Crutchlow in fourth. Crutchlow’s fifth was his best result since his fourth placed finish at the Catalan GP, and means he has finished seventh or higher in the last four races.
Octo Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci pulled off his best MotoGP™ result in the dry as he finished in sixth. Aleix Espargaro won the battle of the Suzuki’s as he beat his rookie teammate Maverick Viñales to seventh by just over a tenth of a second. It was Espargaro’s 11th top ten finish of the season, while Viñales followed up his career best result of sixth at Phillip Island with seventh.
Pol Espargaro crossed the line in ninth despite having to race with severe pain in his neck after a crash in Warm Up caused by Hector Barbera. The Spaniard had to be assessed moments before lining up on the grid, but was passed fit. Stefan Bradl completed the top ten, his best result since he made his debut for the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini at Indianapolis.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding was eleventh, ahead of Octo Pramac Racing ‘s Yonny Hernandez in 12th. Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera took the Open victory despite being forced to start form the back of the grid. The Spaniard had put in his best qualifying performance of the season to start from eighth, but was issued a penalty point for causing the crash with Pol Espargaro in Warm Up which meant, after accruing 4 this season, he had to start from the back of the grid.
American Nicky Hayden (Aspar MotoGP Team) was 16th as the leading Open Honda ahead of Australian Jack Miller (LCR Honda) in 17th, with Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) finishing in 19th.
This means that as it stands, Valentino Rossi leads the MotoGP™ World Championship with 312 points compared to Lorenzo’s 305, with just the Valencia GP left on the 8th of November.