MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) won a shortened Malaysian Grand Prix in thunderous, rain-lashed conditions at Sepang this afternoon.
The result was his third consecutive victory and reduces the advantage of World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) to 23 points with two races remaining. Team-mate Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) finished third in his second race since returning from injury.
Pedrosa’s win gave the Spaniard his first premier-class hat-trick and continues a remarkable run of form that has seen him win four of the last five rounds aboard his Honda RC213V. It was also his sixth success of the year and his first victory in the rain.
The race got underway on a wet track, with steady raining falling, following earlier downpours that had seen the Moto2 race delayed due to a flooded track. About halfway through the 20-lap MotoGP race the rain intensified, triggering a rash of crashes, including Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) who had been going well in sixth place.
Bradl, like all the other fallers, was not hurt, but by now conditions were rapidly worsening and there was standing water in several areas. Halfway through lap 14 the Race Director stopped the race, counting the results from lap 13. But because two-thirds race distance had not been completed, Race Direction considered a restart, until it was decided that conditions were too dangerous.
Pedrosa started well from second on the grid, while Lorenzo charged into the lead. Within a couple of laps Pedrosa was on the back wheel of his compatriot and getting into his rhythm. At half-distance he out-braked Lorenzo into the final turn and quickly built a gap, then controlled his RCV brilliantly as the conditions became increasingly treacherous. Four laps later the race was red-flagged. By then six of the 20 starters had crashed out.
Stoner only came back from injury at Motegi last weekend, so the Australian was delighted to score his first podium since he won July’s US GP. With his right ankle still healing, he had considered not racing because it’s so easy to fall in the rain and because he didn’t want to risk putting himself out for the rest of his final season.
During the early laps Stoner was at the head of the pack fighting over third, then he steadily established himself in that position before starting to close on Lorenzo when the rain got heavier. Had the race gone full distance he was sure he could have passed Lorenzo and challenged for the win.
The Repsol Honda Team riders’ double podium secured the MotoGP team championship for the second consecutive year. Honda still have the chance to add the constructors’ and riders’ titles in the final two races of the year.
Bradl was running strongly in sixth, just behind Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) and just ahead of Valentino Rossi (Ducati) when he ran into engine-braking issues. The rookie adjusted the engine-braking map on his RCV but continued to struggle, then fell at the extra-slippery turn seven which had already claimed three other riders.
Like most riders, Bautista believes that Race Direction made the right call to stop the race when they did, because the track was “like a river”. The Spaniard rode well in spite of some issues on the bumps while braking.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) was third CRT rider home, finishing in 12th spot. The rain was a disappointment for the Italian who had make good progress on his bike during morning warm-up and was confident of a strong showing in the dry. He crossed the line just a fraction of a second behind Danilo Petrucci (Suter BMW).
Alex De Angelis (NGM Mobile Forward Racing – FTR) won the shortened Moto2 race, also run in challenging, ever-changing conditions. The Honda-powered event started late after a torrential downpour that hit the track after the opening Moto3 event. During the early stages of the Moto2 race the track was soaking in some parts, almost dry in others, but the heavens opened once again during the closing stages, forcing the Race Director to bring out the red flags.
The race was a thriller, with de Angelis fighting for much of the 15 laps with the local wild card and two riders who always shine in rainy conditions. Local hero Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia – FTR) was the surprise of the race, while Anthony West (QMMF Racing Team – Speed Up) and Gino Rea (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – Suter) are well known for their wet-weather prowess.
Syahrin, who had qualified 27th in the dry, led for several laps. His riding brought the crowd to its feet but in the end he could not quite stay with the other three and had to be content with a close fourth-place finish. Nonetheless the result was an impressive achievement for the 18-year-old Malaysian who usually rides in the Spanish CEV Moto2 series. This was Syahrin’s second GP ride, following his World Championship debut in last year’s Malaysian Moto2 race.
De Angelis really got his head down when the rain came back in earnest, opening a two-second lead. But that was quickly swallowed up by Rea and West, Rea sliding into the lead at the end of lap 16. Moments later the red flags were displayed and the result was taken back a lap to lap 15, because some riders had not completed lap 16 when the red flags came out. That made de Angelis the winner, just ahead of West and Rea.
Julian Simon (Blusens Avintia – Suter) was fifth, a few seconds down on Syahrin after Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock-Suter) had slid off as the rain returned. The Swiss was one of many fallers, including World Championship leader Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter) who was on course to secure the 2012 world title until he fell on lap 13. Marquez had been riding with Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Speed Up), who slid off and remounted to finish sixth.
Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team – Kalex), Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing – Tech 3), Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP Suter) and Esteve Rabat (Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex) completed the top ten.
Marquez’s championship rival Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex) could only manage 11th at the finish, but that result was enough to keep his title hopes alive for another race.
Sandro Cortese (KTM) secured the first-ever Moto3 World Championship with a thrilling last-corner victory over local hero Zulfahmi Khairuddin (KTM) in the day’s opening race.
Honda’s top finisher was Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda) who spent much of the race – run in the dry but with a few spots of rain – involved in an entertaining battle with team-mate Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda) and KTM riders Luis Salom and Danny Kent. Oliveira crossed the line in fifth place, 0.171s behind Salom and just ahead of Kent. Rins dropped back from the group in the final laps to finish seventh.
Efren Vazquez (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse – FTR Honda) started superbly from the third row of the grid to hold third place at the end of the first lap. However, the Spaniard couldn’t maintain that front-running pace and slipped back to finish the race in a lonely eighth position.
Louis Rossi (Racing Team Germany – FTR Honda) had high hopes of a great race after qualifying just off the front row of the grid. The Frenchman started brilliantly, fighting for third place until he slid off on lap six.
Adrian Martin (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse – FTR Honda) completed the top ten, after a frantic skirmish with half a dozen rivals.
The MotoGP circus now continues its Asian-Pacific adventure and heads to Australia for next weekend’s penultimate Grand Prix at Phillip Island. The season concludes back in Europe, at Valencia, on November 11.
|1||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|3||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|5||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|6||Alvaro BAUTISTA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|7||Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)|
|8||Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|9||James ELLISON (Paul Bird Motorsport)|
|10||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|11||Danilo PETRUCCI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|12||Michele PIRRO (San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|13||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|1||Alex DE ANGELIS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|2||Anthony WEST (QMMF Racing Team)|
|3||Gino REA (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|4||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)|
|5||Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)|
|6||Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)|
|7||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|8||Bradley SMITH (Tech 3 Racing)|
|9||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag-CIP)|
|10||Esteve RABAT (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|11||Pol ESPARGARO (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|12||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|13||Toni ELIAS (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|14||Axel PONS (Tuenti Movil HP 40)|
|15||Ricard CARDUS (Arguinano Racing Team)|
|1||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)|
|3||Jonas FOLGER (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3)|
|4||Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)|
|5||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|6||Danny KENT (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|7||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|8||Efren VAZQUEZ (JHK t-shirt Laglisse)|
|9||Niklas AJO (TT Motion Events Racing)|
|10||Adrian MARTIN (JHK t-shirt Laglisse)|
|11||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|12||Brad BINDER (RW Racing GP)|
|13||Jack MILLER (Caretta Technology)|
|14||Alex MARQUEZ (Ambrogio Next Racing)|
|15||Niccolo` ANTONELLI (San Carlo Gresini Moto3|