Yamaha Secures Double Podium at Sweltering Sepang
The Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix saw Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo claim Yamaha’s eighth double podium of the season after a heated battle at the Sepang International Circuit.
Valentino Rossi had a dream start to the Malaysian Grand Prix as he shot up two places to fourth and settled behind his teammate Lorenzo. As Lorenzo moved up the order, Rossi quickly responded and climbed to third, but he was shadowed in his every move by rival Marc Marquez. While lying second Dani Pedrosa crashed out of the race on the last corner of the third lap, promoting Rossi to second as he continued the hunt for his teammate. Slowly but surely Rossi closed the gap and on lap nine he made his move.
Aware that he was still followed by rival Marquez, the Doctor put the hammer down on the next lap but went slightly off line on the last corner and was forced to give the position to Marquez. Rossi refused to give up and chased his rival but, as the tires started to wear down and the heat started to take its toll, he was unable to retake the lead and finished the race in second, +2.445 behind the leader.
Teammate Lorenzo catapulted off the line at the start of the Sepang battle and arrived at the first corner in second place until a slight touch with rival Marc Marquez forced him wide in the first corner. The Majorcan was quick to recover and went through the first corners side by side with teammate Rossi in third and fourth place.
Lorenzo was the quicker one of the two and soon made his move on Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa to take the lead before the end of the fist lap. He put his head down in the attempt to extend his lead, but Rossi soon caught up and with 11 laps to go made his move. Before Lorenzo could answer he held off an attack from Marquez in his typical x-fuera style, but was unable make it last. Lorenzo remained determined to fight, but eventually settled for third place, his 85th MotoGP podium finish.
Rossi’s impressive comeback from sixth to second earns him 20 points and leaves him second in the championship standings with 275 points. Lorenzo’s performance sees him take 16 points and leaves him third in the championship standings on 263 points, just 12 points behind his teammate.
2nd / +2.445 / 20 laps
“This race is the most difficult race for the riders but I felt good with my preparations. This means I have worked well. The second place is positive for me because we struggled much during the weekend and I wasn’t very strong. This morning we improved the bike and once again in the afternoon. The bike was perfect for the race. I fought a lot and I enjoyed the fight with Jorge and also the battle with Marc at the end. At one moment I thought I could win, but unfortunately Marc was a little bit too fast. The best way to think of the second place for the championship is to try and fight for the podium. That’s my target, but Valencia is a difficult track for me. In the past I struggled there a lot, so this year I want to try the maximum. I want to be competitive on Sunday and try to arrive on the podium.”
3rd / +3.508 / 20 laps
“This race was very difficult. It was probably the hottest race in Malaysia in the whole 12 years that I have competed. I made a good start and was very brave on the first lap. I pushed at the maximum for the first seven to ten laps, but little by little trying to get the bike stopped was getting worse and worse. Valentino was really fast and during the second part of the race he was able to keep the same pace that I had at the beginning. It was very difficult to ride and fight. I wasn’t as fit as in Silverstone or Misano. These three weeks outside of Europe I’ve not trained hard enough, so I wasn’t as quick.”
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“It’s been almost a perfect day, we finished the triple header overseas races with a brilliant result and again have both riders on the podium. Vale rode a superb race and Jorge also was very strong. Their performances were especially impressive considering the incredibly hot conditions. We were able to see in warm up that the pace and speed were good so we thought we could get a great result. Unfortunately we didn't win but we have six podiums in three races and two wins, we can’t ask for much more. We go home satisfied with our efforts and look forward to finishing the season on a high note with a great race in Valencia. We have to thank all our staff, three overseas races in a row is tough and everyone worked very hard and never gave up.”
Smith and Espargaro power to strong finishes in Malaysia
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Bradley Smith courageously fought through the challenging track conditions today in Sepang to brilliantly finish in fifth place for round 17 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship. The British rider lined up in ninth on the grid and as the 20 lap sprint began, he lunged forward when the lights flicked to green, completing the first lap in eighth position. By the fifth lap, the 23 year old rider was running a consistent and formidable race pace in sixth as he resolutely fought the searing heat and as a result, the increasing lack of traction at the Sepang International Circuit. The British star, who clinched a debut podium at the last round in Australia then set about relentlessly plugging the gap to Stefan Bradl ahead over the following laps, inching closer as the race distance progressed. When the last lap began, Smith launched a fantastic late charge to close right in on the German rider in front and despite a valiant effort to pass in the final moments at the last corner, he just missed out successfully overtaking Bradl for fourth. Nevertheless, his thorough and determined ride to fifth saw him move up to seventh in the championship standings and conclude the three fly away races with another strong result.
Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro made a truly heroic effort to power through the pain of the injury to his foot yesterday to clinch sixth in the tough MotoGP battle at Sepang today. The reigning Moto2 World Champion fell heavily in yesterday’s FP3 session and fractured the second head of the metatarsal in his left foot. However he fought onwards and competed in the warm up today, where he finished in 14th place. The Spanish rider began his race from 12th on the grid after bravely making the decision to contest the race, as even though he did not partake in the qualifying yesterday, his FP3 time which left him in tenth, allowed him direct entry into QP2. Espargaro started the GP strongly and finished the first lap in tenth as he stayed determined to seize a top ten despite his injuries. With six laps having been completed, he had closed in on Yonny Hernandez and made the move one lap later, to impressively place him in seventh with 13 laps remaining around the 5543 metre circuit. The rookie carried on his striking display to overtake Andrea Dovizioso on lap 18 to clinch sixth and he eventually crossed the finish line in this position after a highly notable show of perseverance. His superb result today saw him move up to sixth in the World Championship standings after the penultimate round in Malaysia.
5th / +22.283 / 20 laps
“It was a great result for us today after what was a really tough race and tricky weekend in general. We were never quite where we wanted to be in the practice sessions and qualifying on the third row didn't make our situation easier for today. Yet, to finish the race 20 seconds back from the leader in fifth is a strong result and better than what we predicated. The race itself was very demanding and the body goes under so much stress during it, but this is why we train and do the hard work to prepare for events like these. The team did a great job and the fifth goes well with the podium from last week, to mark a positive flyaway period for me. It would have been good to get Stefan for the extra two points to aid our championship standing ambitions, but I gave it my absolute all and didn’t have anything left. I am happy with the performance and now we will head back to Europe, where we will battle to finish in a similar position as I have to keep reaching these results in order to try and get the sixth place in the championship.”
6th / +34.668 / 20 laps
“The race today was a really tough one for me, but I am very happy to walk away from here with a sixth place finish and some more valuable championship points, which was a much better result than what we anticipated after yesterday. Apart from my physical conditions, today was also really hard because we didn’t compete in FP4 yesterday and so we lost a lot of valuable time to work on the setup. Yet, the team did an amazing job to prepare a really good bike and I must thank them for their continued work all weekend long. In the race itself, I just tried to run a consistent pace and finish. I really gave it absolutely everything that I had and it was very tough in the last ten laps as that’s when my foot started to hurt a lot with turning the bike being especially hard. However, I never gave up and am happy with the result as we collected some very important championship points which helped me to pass my brother to gain sixth position in the overall standings. Now I will rest up before the final race in Valencia where I will try to be as fast as possible to finish my rookie season on a high.”
Aleix Espargaro 2014 World Champion in the Open category
Aleix Espargaro won the World Championship of the Open category at the Malaysian Grand Prix on board of the Forward Yamaha of the NGM Forward Racing Team.
After having dominated throughout the whole season in his category, scoring a pole position at Assen and a podium finish at Aragon, today Espargaro claimed the title of World Champion of the Open category. Espargaro leads the classification with 117 points, 42 points ahead of Scott Redding, so with one race in advance, he wins mathematically the title.
Unfortunately the Spaniard couldn’t celebrate such a fantastic achievement with a good race result as he had to retire following an incident with Alvaro Bautista. Started from the seventh spot on the grid, Aleix was close to the front guys when he touched Bautista on the second lap and fell, without the possibility to re-join the race.
Despite the retirement on the last lap for a technical problem, it was a good race for Alex De Angelis. Started 18th, the Italian rider made a great recovery and was close to the top ten when he was obliged to retire.
Alex De Angelis
DNF / 19 laps
“Despite the retirement I can say that we did a good race. The fact that we didn’t do the pre-season test on this track, made the race weekend even more complicated but together with the team we worked hard and we did a great job. We started on Friday behind but today and I could reduce the gap and we fought throughout the whole race with Redding. I made a good start, I was quiet aggressive in the first laps and I recovered several positions. Unfortunately I had to retire on the last lap for a technical problem. With the ground temperature reaching 54 degrees it was a demanding race for us abut also very challenging for the tires.”
DNF / 1 lap
“I made a made a good start and I pushed hard from the beginning to maintain the contact with the front group. It’s a pity that at Turn 1 on the second lap I went wide under braking and I touched Bautista. I couldn’t control the bike and crashed. I’m really sorry for Alvaro as I have spoiled his race and also mine. Fortunately we are both well. I’m happy we won the Open Championship. It’s a fantastic achievement for myself and the team. This year we have achieved important results and had great satisfactions. I’d like to thank all my team for their hard work, Yamaha for their support, all the sponsors and of course all the guys that work also from the office.”