MotoGP: Slippery Slope at the Malaysian GP

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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:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
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
Not Classified
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