World of Sport: Mo­togp; Aus­tralian Su­per­cars; NASCAR Cup

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS -


The record books will show Marc Mar­quez as claim­ing a straight­for­ward ninth vic­tory of the 2018 sea­son in the Malaysian Grand Prix last week­end, but it was his old arch-ri­val Valentino Rossi who dom­i­nated the head­lines at Sepang.

Rossi con­trolled the race beau­ti­fully un­til a crash with four laps to go. Not only was the 39-year old robbed of the chance to reg­is­ter his first win since the 2017 Dutch TT, but also fans were de­nied a mouth­wa­ter­ing show­down be­tween the Yamaha man and Mar­quez.

Im­me­di­ately be­fore Rossi’s fall – a lowspeed loss of the rear at Sepang’s tight Turn 1 right-han­der – Mar­quez had been gain­ing by about a tenth per lap. But it was clear that the Honda rider was hav­ing to give it his all just to chip away at the gap by that much.

Af­ter the race Mar­quez ad­mit­ted that, had his ad­ver­sary stayed up­right, the race would have been too close to call. As it was, the al­ready-crowned five-time Mo­togp cham­pion cruised home for a win that wrapped up the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ti­tle for

Honda and put the fac­tory Rep­sol squad within an ace of the teams’ ti­tle too.

Mar­quez didn’t make life easy for him­self in a rain-soaked qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion. He set the quick­est time by more than half a sec­ond, but im­peded the Suzuki of An­drea Ian­none at Turn 9. Be­cause it was his sec­ond of­fence of the year, he was de­moted six places on the grid, which meant Tech3 Yamaha man Jo­hann Zarco in­her­ited the prime spot.

The penalty made pre­cious lit­tle dif­fer­ence come the race. Mar­quez was fourth by the end of the open­ing lap, and third by the con­clu­sion of the fol­low­ing tour. Then, when Zarco ran wide on lap five, he was gifted sec­ond place.

Rossi stretched his lead over Mar­quez to a lit­tle over a sec­ond be­fore Mar­quez be­gan to ap­ply the pres­sure, clos­ing the gap to six tenths be­fore Rossi’s race-de­cid­ing crash.

That pro­moted Zarco to sec­ond, but the French­man was un­able to stave off the ad­vances of Suzuki’s Alex Rins, who shad­owed Zarco closely un­til pass­ing him for sec­ond on the last lap.

Fourth was Phillip Is­land win­ner Mav­er­ick Vi­nales, whose chances were ru­ined by a poor qual­i­fy­ing per­for­mance in the wet that left his Yamaha 11th on the grid. Early in the race he was stuck be­hind Al­varo Bautista, leav­ing

Vi­nales too far back to mount a podium chal­lenge. Next up was the sec­ond works Honda of Dani Pedrosa, fol­lowed by a strangely sub­dued An­drea Dovizioso.

This was the first race since the sum­mer break in which the Du­cati rider hadn’t been on the podium (or crashed fight­ing at the front), and Dovizioso was ei­ther re­luc­tant or un­able to give a spe­cific rea­son for his lack of pace. Still, sixth was enough for Dovizioso – who led home a quar­tet of Du­catis ahead of Bautista, Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci – to clinch sec­ond in the points.

Dovizioso also found him­self en­gaged in a slightly bizarre war of words with team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who was forced on to the side­lines for a fourth race in a row. Lorenzo, hav­ing skipped Phillip Is­land al­to­gether, was back in the pad­dock in Malaysia, and took part in both Fri­day prac­tice ses­sions. But he was woe­fully off the pace, and ended up hand­ing over his bike to Du­cati tester Michele Pirro for Satur­day on­wards.

Dovizioso told Ital­ian TV that he found the Lorenzo sit­u­a­tion “strange” and some­thing that hap­pens to “cer­tain riders”, prompt­ing a series of irate tweets from Lorenzo, the most cut­ting of which was his de­scrip­tion of Dovizioso as “a world cham­pion… in 125cc”.

Fi­nally, home hero Hafizh Syahrin en­joyed per­haps the finest hour of what has been a solid but un­spec­tac­u­lar rookie Mo­togp cam­paign with the Tech3 Yamaha team.

The Malaysian, in tears dur­ing the pre-race na­tional an­them cer­e­mony, man­aged to chan­nel his emo­tions into mak­ing the per­fect launch – one that took him from 23rd and last on the grid to 12th on the open­ing lap. He held on af­ter that for 10th, two places clear of Rookie of the Year ri­val Franco Mor­bidelli, although the Honda rider still holds a 10-point buf­fer over Syahrin.

Mar­quez cel­e­brated his ninth vic­tory


Rossi (46) led the pack for much of the race

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.