As was forecasted, the rain made its appearance for the start of the Malaysian GP being held at Sepang. The wet weather of course meant all bets were off for what could happen on this third-to-last round in the MotoGP Championship, and the adverse conditions increased the possibility of some “off-road excursions” by the riders. No one had more to lost from such a proposition than current points leader Jorge Lorenzo.
Sitting 28 points ahead of Dani Pedrosa, the factory Yamaha rider needed only to stay upright on his machine to retain control of the 2012 MotoGP Championship title, but with the rain in Sepang, that simple task could prove to be more difficult than anyone imagined. Needing to grab back as many points as possible, no one probably welcomed the rain more than Dani Pedrosa…well, except maybe the Ducati riders, which made for some high-stakes in the otherwise low-action race
Despite a race that saw five riders hitting the gravel traps, the Malaysian GP was a rather short on drama. Jorge Lorenzo lead the charge through the first turn, followed closely by Dani Pedrosa. The two broke away from the pack within a lap, and mid-race Pedrosa pulled the pin on his Honda grenade, leaving the factory Yamaha to fight for second. With Casey Stoner closing in on Lorenzo and his “soft” rain tire, the Spaniard was saved as the race was red-flagged, just moments after Lorenzo nearly hydroplaned off the circuit due to the building water on the course.
Conspiracy theorists aside, virtually all of the riders welcomed the early-conclusion of the race, as visibility was becoming very limited. The fact that so many riders found their way off the track also attests to the massive amount of water that was falling on the circuit.
As expected the wet weather was a boon to the Ducati riders, as Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi finished fourth and fifth respectively. The monsoon was not a good for Ben Spies though, as the American rider continues his eyebrow-raising, yet forgettable season, aboard the second factory Yamaha, which crashed on the ninth lap.
Sepang was a cruel mistress for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders as well, as Andrea Dovizioso crashed out of fourth, after having a tremendous start. Cal Crutchlow also found the gravel, as he was in a trio of unrelated crashes that also involved Stefan Bradl and Randy de Puniet.
It would seem safe to say that a number of riders are looking forward to MotoGP’s stop next week at Phillip Island, though perhaps none more so than Casey Stoner, who continues to show signs of renewed speed ahead of his home round event, and despite his foot injury. Dani Pedrosa surely likes the prospect of a fast teammate as well, as now he only has a 23 point deficit to overcome in the Championship standings. A tall order, but not impossible.
Race Results from the Malaysian GP at Sepang, Malaysia:
|1||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||29’29.049|
|2||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||+3.774|
|3||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+7.144|
|4||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+10.518|
|5||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+16.759|
|6||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||+17.276|
|7||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||+50.282|
|8||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||+51.585|
|9||James ELLISON||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||ART||+56.676|
|10||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||+57.622|
|11||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda-Suter||+1’02.805|
|12||Michele PIRRO||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||FTR||+1’02.891|
|13||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+1’28.989|
|Roberto ROLFO||ITA||Speed Master||ART||0 Lap|
|Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||2 Laps|
|Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||3 Laps|
|Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||3 Laps|
|Ivan SILVA||SPA||Avintia Blusens||BQR||3 Laps|
|Colin EDWARDS||USA||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||Suter||3 Laps|
|Ben SPIES||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||5 Laps|
Source: MotoGP; Photo: HRC