MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2017
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) took a safe fourth-place finish in today’s rain-soaked Malaysian Grand Prix. The result gives him a 21-point World Championship lead over title rival and Sepang winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) as the thrilling battle for the 2017 MotoGP crown goes to the final round at Valencia, Spain, next month. Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) started from pole position and finished the race in fifth position.
At Valencia on November 12th Marquez will need a minimum of an 11th-place finish, if Dovizioso wins the race, to take a remarkable fourth MotoGP title in five seasons.
Marquez’s fourth-place finish here may not have secured him the Riders World Championship with one race remaining, but it did seal the 2017 MotoGP Constructors World Championship for Honda. Thus the company retains the title it won last year and makes it an amazing six constructors crowns over the last seven seasons with its mighty RC212V and RC213V V4 machines. Honda has won a record 23 constructors titles in the premier-class since its first success with the RC181 four-cylinder four-stroke. The Repsol Honda Team also leads the Teams World Championship, taking a 44-point advantage to Valencia.
The premier-class title is the only riders crown still to be decided, after impressive Italian youngster Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) today made sure of the title in the Honda CB600-powered Moto2 World Championship. Last Sunday Joan Mir (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) took the Moto3 crown. Honda had already wrapped up the Moto3 Constructors World Championship, giving the Japanese manufacturer both constructors titles in MotoGP’s two open categories: MotoGP and Moto3.
Marquez began today’s race in awesome attacking style, charging through from the third row of the grid to take the lead into turn one, albeit very briefly. He then settled into a rhythm behind early leader Johann Zarco (Yamaha) and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) before Dovizioso came past. Fully aware of the implications of a mistake, Marquez rode intelligently as he watched Dovizioso move into the lead, the 24-year-old Spaniard doing the points arithmetic while staying fast and focused all the way to the checkered flag. He decided that the 13 points for fourth place was the right result for his title hopes after a few worrying moments on the slippery surface.
Pedrosa was set on victory after taking an excellent pole position, his third of the year. His pace in dry practice was very strong and the fact that he had won three of the last four races here made him confident of fighting for another Sepang victory. The former 125cc and 250cc World Champion was foiled by a change in the weather, but still benefited from a late wet set-up change that provided him with greater rear-end feeling to come home a strong fifth.
Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) is always fast in the rain, but his hopes of another podium charge were dashed by a lack of feeling at the rear. Starting from 12th on the grid, Miller acclimatized to the conditions then started moving forward. By lap 14 of 20 laps he had passed Scott Redding (Ducati) for eighth, a place he maintained to the checkered flag. The 22-year Australian, who broke his right tibia last month, was nonetheless happy enough with his sixth top-eight finish of the season. Miller was strong all weekend, regularly inside the top six in free practice.
Briton Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) was frustrated with his 15th-place finish at the end of a tough weekend. The Briton struggled with rear-tire issues and a lack of front-brake feeling, possibly caused by the spray thrown up by other bikes during the opening laps, which saw him drop to 22nd. After that the two-time MotoGP race struggled to find traction, forcing him to settle for a single World Championship point.
Former Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) also endured a challenging afternoon in the rain. The low-grip conditions didn’t suit the Spaniard who came home in 18th place.
In today’s Moto2 race Morbidelli celebrated his debut World Championship on the podium with a solid third-place finish, behind the dominant Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) and impressive rookie Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM).
In fact, Morbidelli secured the riders title before today, after his only rival Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten Kalex) crashed heavily in qualifying. The 31-year old Swiss rider fractured his left ankle in the fall, so Morbidelli went into the race with an insurmountable 29-point advantage.
Morbidelli is Italy’s 14th world champion in the intermediate category, and the first since the late, great Marco Simoncelli secured the 250cc crown in Malaysia nine years ago. This is the second Moto2 crown for the Marc VDS team in four years and the sixth for chassis constructors Kalex since 2011.
Starting from pole, the 22-year old was keen to celebrate his title with a ninth win of the year, but Oliveira had other plans. Already by the end of the second lap the Portuguese rider had a one-second lead, a margin he increased as the race went on. Only when a light rain shower fell in the closing stages did his pace relent. He crossed the finish line 2.3 seconds ahead of Binder for his second win in seven days. Binder’s second place in as many Sundays made this another one-two for the Ajo KTM squad, the South African pulling clear of Morbidelli in the closing laps.
Behind the podium men, Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) took a fighting fourth place, after putting late moves on talented rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) and Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40 Kalex). Bagnaia took fifth, while Quartararo’s pace faded badly on the final lap, allowing local rider Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex) through for an excellent sixth in front of his hugely enthusiastic home crowd.
Behind Quartararo came Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing Tech 3), who took his third top-eight finish in as many races. Isaac Vinales (SAG Team Kalex) and Tetsuta Nagashima (Teluru SAG Team Kalex) rounded out the top ten.
Honda once again dominated the Moto3 race, with newly crowned World Champion Mir powering to his tenth win of a superb season. The 20-year old Spaniard again showed his speed and intelligence, winning a hotly-contested three-way fight with Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) and Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW).
The three men were locked together for much of the race, until Mir assumed control three laps from the flag. Within a quarter of a lap, he had established a half-second advantage, then made the most of his pursuers fighting among themselves to come home 0.7 seconds clear.
Mir’s tenth victory of the year is testament to his great feeling with Honda’s high-performing NSF250RW, which has won 16 of the 17 races so far. If he wins at Valencia, Mir will equal Valentino Rossi’s 20-year old record for the most number of wins in the junior class across a season.
Martin took second after a smart move on Bastianini at the final corner. His pace in morning warm-up pointed to a victory challenge. Indeed, the Spaniard had a 1.8-second lead after the first three laps, but then he lost some rear grip and that illusive debut GP win.
Bastianini rode an excellent race to take his third podium of the year, just 0.039 seconds behind Martin at the flag. Mir’s team-mate Livio Loi (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) followed his Phillip Island podium with another excellent showing, coming home fourth.
Briton John McPhee (British Team Honda NSF250RW) finished fifth to make it an all-Honda top five. The 23-year old McPhee, who started from the front row, recovered brilliantly after avoiding a stricken Nico Antonelli (KTM), an incident which forced him off the track and back to 13th.
Title runner-up Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW) was seventh, then Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) eighth, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) ninth.
Today’s Malaysian Grand Prix was the last of three flyaway rounds held on consecutive weekends across the Asia-Pacific region. The MotoGP paddock reconvenes for the season finale at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, outside Valencia, where practice gets underway on November 10.
|1||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Ducati Team)|
|3||Johann ZARCO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|4||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|5||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|6||Danilo PETRUCCI (OCTO Pramac Racing)|
|7||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|8||Jack MILLER (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|9||Maverick VIÑALES (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|10||Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|11||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)|
|12||Bradley SMITH (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|13||Scott REDDING (OCTO Pramac Racing)|
|14||Hector BARBERA (Reale Avintia Racing)|
|15||Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda)|
|1||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|3||Franco MORBIDELLI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|4||Mattia PASINI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|5||Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|6||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)|
|7||Fabio QUARTARARO (Pons HP40)|
|8||Xavi VIERGE (Tech 3 Racing)|
|9||Isaac VIÑALES (BE-A-VIP SAG Team)|
|10||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA (Teluru SAG Team)|
|11||Simone CORSI (Speed Up Racing)|
|12||Augusto FERNANDEZ (Speed Up Racing)|
|13||Andrea LOCATELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|14||Iker LECUONA (Garage Plus Interwetten)|
|15||Jesko RAFFIN (Garage Plus Interwetten)|
|1||Joan MIR (Leopard Racing)|
|2||Jorge MARTIN (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)|
|3||Enea BASTIANINI (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|4||Livio LOI (Leopard Racing)|
|5||John MCPHEE (British Talent Team)|
|6||Andrea MIGNO (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|7||Romano FENATI (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers)|
|8||Aron CANET (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|9||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)|
|10||Bo BENDSNEYDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|11||Adam NORRODIN (SIC Racing Team)|
|12||Ayumu SASAKI (SIC Racing Team)|
|13||Juanfran GUEVARA (RBA BOE Racing Team)|
|14||Gabriel RODRIGO (RBA BOE Racing Team)|
|15||Manuel PAGLIANI (CIP)|