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Thursday, October 30, 2014

MotoGP 2014 – Sepang: Round Up

MotoGP 2014 – Sepang: Round Up

Marc Marquez equals one more record with a win and Rossi solidifies his runner up position in the championship after a fantastic ride to second from sixth on the grid

With the penultimate round of MotoGP finished at Sepang in Malaysia, we have now had 17 of 18 races of this year’s most prestigious motorcycle racing event. Marc Marquez has won the latest round even though the last 5 races haven’t been his best. But with 12 wins already and the second successive title in the bag, we can say that this has been Marquez’s season and there’s no doubt about that. With his latest win, the current world champion has equaled Mick Doohan’s record of most wins in one season. And there’s still one final race remaining… at Valencia. In his post race interview, Marquez said “I’ve equaled Mick Doohan’s record, with one race left may be I can beat it”. That’s the spirit! Isn’t it?

There was one more rider who had an almost equally good race, almost. Valentine Rossi raced to the second spot on the podium after starting from sixth on the grid. His battle with Marquez occupied the second half of the race and was quite intense. Rossi matched Marquez’s pace all throughout falling short only in the last 3-4 laps when his front tyre started to deteriorate. Racing at Sepang is not easy, not because the track is a difficult one to ride on but because the heat can be too much and that makes it physically very demanding. The Malaysian track is possibly the hottest circuit on the calendar and as Jorge Lorenzo said after the race, “It was probably the hottest race in Malaysia in the whole 12 years that I have completed”.

Qualifying saw the hottest temperature of the whole weekend. Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, again, posted the best times out of everyone to take the pole position for the race. This is his 13th pole position of the season. Team mate Dani Pedrosa and Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo accompanied Marquez on the first row in second and third positions respectively. Row two was led by LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl in fourth, factory Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso in fifth and Valentino Rossi in sixth. Aleix Espargaro of Forward Yamaha, Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow, Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith and Go&FUN Honda’s Alvaro Bautista rounded off the top 10 in qualifying.

For the race, both Rossi and Marquez opted for the medium front compound; however, Rossi was apprehensive if the tyre would last the race distance. Lorenzo went with the hard front option. The temperature was still quite high but it was slightly less than the day of Qualifying. It was still hot enough to make the 21 laps race one of the toughest of the entire season.

The start of the race was quite full of drama. Dani Pedrosa took the whole shot starting from second on the grid and led everyone going into turn 1. Lorenzo got a decent start but he ran a bit wide entering into the first corner eventually making Marquez to go wide as well as they both made a light contact. That tussle gave way for Andrea Dovizioso to assume the second position behind the leading man Pedrosa. Rossi also almost went through for the third position but Lorenzo managed to hold off his team mate in the following corner. Marquez was relegated to the sixth position in all this drama.

Quite a start that was!

The second lap saw Lorenzo riding enthusiastically as he trumped Dovizioso for the second and then Pedrosa for the lead. Also, Dovizioso was passed by Rossi for the third position around the same time. Meanwhile, Marquez was quickly making up positions and arrived behind Valentino in fourth position. However, for Pedrosa, things didn’t really go well as he lost the front end at the final corner at the end of lap 2 putting Rossi and Marquez in second and third spot. It was a light crash and Pedrosa was able to remount his bike and rejoin the race in the 20th spot. Unfortunately, he lost his bike’s front again later in the race (on lap 13) and eventually had to retire.

The leading trio of Lorenzo, Rossi and Marquez soon built up a gap from others in the subsequent laps. After the initial fiasco of the opening two laps and once the riders have settled into a rhythm, at the front it was mostly Rossi who battled with his team mate Lorenzo for the lead while Marquez kept close but didn’t really indulge in a three-way battle. At half the race distance when 11 laps were remaining, Rossi made his first move on Lorenzo and they both exchanged couple of passes with the Italian making finally it stick. Almost immediately, Marquez attacked Lorenzo as well and relegated his fellow countryman to the third spot. From there on, Lorenzo faded a bit as Rossi and Marquez developed a gap together. 

With just about 9 laps to go, in the final corner at the end of lap 12, Rossi ran a bit wide and this allowed Marquez to take the lead as he was near enough to take the advantage. But Rossi didn’t let Marquez escape and put up a great challenge against the Spaniard for the lead. Rossi and Marquez indulged in a fierce dogfight for the next 5 or 6 laps with Rossi coming quite close to the young Spaniard to take the lead on many occasions. But Marquez just managed to hold off any attacks from the Italian.

Their scrap came to an end with little over 3 laps remaining when Rossi started to lose the performance from his medium front tyre. Eventually, the gap was big enough for Marquez to safely take the win ahead of Rossi with around 2.5 seconds between them. Lorenzo finished third. In his post race interview, Rossi said that he thought he might win but unfortunately his front tyre didn’t survive enough for the entire race. Indeed, it was a very tight battle between Rossi and Marquez and would have been great to see them taking the fight right to the finish line. Next time, perhaps!

Lorenzo shared his thoughts on the race and said that his lack of fitness didn’t really enable him to fight for the entire race. The hot weather didn’t help his situation either. For example, Rossi was seen gulping water like anything as the top three riders were ready to go the podium. It just gave a glimpse of how much dehydrated all riders must have been after the race.

This race wasn’t just about Marquez equaling Mick Doohan’s record of most wins in a season, it was also about the runner up spot. Valentine Rossi has put himself in a pretty good position by finishing second and more importantly, finishing ahead of Lorenzo. Rossi is now 12 points ahead of his team mate and with only 1 race left, the points advantage looks good enough.

Behind the top three, Stefan Bradl and Bradley Smith rounded off the top five finishers in 4th and 5th respectively. Also, Pol Espargaro did a very brave race and finished in 6th. He suffered a bad crash a day before during the final practice before qualifying and experienced a minor fracture in his left foot.

Below are the race results and the championship standings after the penultimate round 17 at Sepang, Malaysia.

MotoGP Sepang Results 2014 
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 
2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 
4. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 
5. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 
6. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 
7. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 
9. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 
10. Scott Redding (Honda) 
11. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 
12. Michael Laverty (PBM) 
13. Mike Di Meglio (Avintia) 
14. Broc Parkes (PBM)

MotoGP Championship Points 2014
1. Marc Marquez, 337 
2. Valentino Rossi, 275 
3. Jorge Lorenzo, 263 
4. Dani Pedrosa, 230 
5. Andrea Dovizioso, 174 
6. Pol Espargaro, 126 
7. Bradley Smith, 119 
8. Aleix Espargaro, 117 
9. Stefan Bradl, 109 
10. Andrea Iannone, 102

Text By: Sachin Sen
Images Courtesy: www.motogp.com
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Item Reviewed: MotoGP 2014 – Sepang: Round Up Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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