SEPANG. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) claimed his 70th career win after taking victory at the Shell Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The 2018 Champion looked set to lock horns with nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), but the race would end in disaster for ‘The Doctor’, as Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) completed the podium at the Sepang International Circuit.
After a less than impressive start, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) recovered to string together a strong latter half of the Grand Prix to finish P4, with Pedrosa crossing the line P5 on his final racing visit to the Sepang International Circuit. It was a subdued race for one of the pre-race favourites Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). The winner here for the last two seasons couldn’t replicate those results as he took P6, but after Rossi’s crash, the Italian has sealed P2 in the Championship.
Angel Nieto Team’s Alvaro Bautista was P7 in his penultimate MotoGP™ race, he led fellow Desmosedici rider Miller – the Australian slipped down to P8 after a good start. P9 was his teammate Danilo Petrucci, but arguably ride of the day went to a certain Malaysian: Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3). Starting P23, the home hero was able to get a stunning start as he got himself up to P12 on the opening lap, eventually claiming P10 to close Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) down in the battle for ‘Rookie of the Year’ – the Italian claimed P12, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) splitting the duo on the timesheets. LCR Honda Castrol replacement rider Stefan Bradl claimed P13, the German finishing just ahead of teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), with Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completing the points.
In the preparatory session for the race today, Aleix Espargaró proved to be a candidate for a top 10 finish, a result that escaped him by a hair due to a less-than-perfect start. In fact, the Spanish rider had to make up positions after finishing the first lap eighteenth during a physically and mentally demanding race. In fact, the high temperatures and constant threat of rain forced the riders to put forth extra effort in managing the race.
With this eleventh place finish, the Aprilia rider takes home his third good result in the last four races and, along with it, another confidence boost in view of Valencia.
Aleix Espargaró: 11th
“This was certainly one of the three most physically demanding races of my entire career. I started very badly and lost a lot of positions on the first turn, so I had to make up ground. After a few passes, a gap formed behind my brother, Pol. I managed to overtake him after a good battle. At that point, I was making up ground on the tenth place rider, but there were only a few laps left. Today's result is positive, but we want to do more and we know we can, so we need to keep working and preparing our 2019 season as best we can".
Xavier Siméon: 17th
“I knew that it would be a difficult race in dry conditions. Even though my start was better than in Australia, it still wasn’t good and I lost all the advantage I had with my starting position. But all in all, I am still satisfied with the outcome of the race, because I hadn’t felt comfortable in dry conditions before and in the race, my pace has been quite consistent and similar to the riders that finished close to the Top 10. Considering this, I am a little frustrated, because I did most of the things right to achieve another place within the point rankings, but I still struggle to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. In MotoGP, everything needs to be perfect and little details can make all the difference. Apart from that, the team has done a great job once again and I reduced the gap to the front runners a lot. In fact, I didn’t expect to be that close. Now we have to wait and see what will happen at Valencia. I hope Tito can ride again and for myself, I hope to enjoy my last race in MotoGP with the team".