The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team has moved on from the chilly and windy Phillip Island circuit, where they raced last Sunday, to get into action once more this weekend at the hot and humid Sepang International Circuit.
The Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix is known to be one of the most trying rounds on the GP calendar, as the extreme conditions test the riders' stamina even more than usual. However, Maverick Viñales doesn’t anticipate any problems there. He would like to make up for the crash in the Australian GP's last lap that cost him a visit to the rostrum, so he is determined to fight at the front again in Sepang.
The Spaniard climbed onto the Malaysian podium on two occasions in previous years, securing a 125cc win in 2011 and first place in the Moto2 race in 2014. He is yet to claim a premier class MotoGP prize there. Last year he took fourth, his best premier class placement at this track thus far. Viñales currently holds fourth position in the overall rankings, seven points behind the rider in third position.
Valentino Rossi is also impatient to meet his fans at the Malaysian track, a circuit where he shone many times before. He was looking strong in the fight for the win last year when a crash cut his challenge short.
Despite the 2018 mishap, the Doctor's list of premier class successes in Sepang is impressive. He delighted the fans by snatching victories there in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, he secured second places 2002, 2005, 2014, and 2016, and took third places in 2009 and 2015. This weekend he hopes to add another positive result to the list in order to move up from seventh place in the championship standings.
The Sepang International Circuit staged its first Grand Prix in 1999 and has been on the MotoGP calendar ever since. The 5.5 km track has a reputation for providing very exciting racing thanks to a mixture of slow and medium to high-speed corners (five left and ten right) and its two long straights, the longest measuring 920m. The circuit is also one of the longest tracks of the MotoGP season and has to be completed in extremely hot and humid conditions, making for a GP at the end of the triple-header that is extra challenging for the riders.
For those who want to get to know the Sepang track better, check out Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP eSport Rider Lorenzo Daretti’s eLap.
“We’ve now come to Sepang for the last GP of the triple-header. The Malaysian circuit is one of the most demanding rounds of the year because of the extreme conditions. Maverick has gained good momentum in Australia. He fought really hard for the win last Sunday and he’s eager to be a front-runner again this weekend. Valentino is also looking forward to getting things going in Sepang, because he was very strong there last year. He was battling for the win until he had a crash, so he’s greatly motivated to have a do-over and give the Malaysian fans something to cheer about.”
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
“We were very competitive last weekend on Phillip Island and used the race to learn. The consumption of the tyre was good and my pace too. The bike was working well, and the team did a great job all weekend, so we are ready to fight again in Malaysia now. It will be a very different kind of round. The temperatures in Sepang are always really high and that adds an extra difficulty, but we’re ready. We had a good test at this track during the pre-season, and I’ve been feeling good on the bike lately, so we will be trying hard to fight at the front again this weekend.”
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
“Now we’re going to Sepang, where we also tested during the pre-season, but it’s always difficult to understand where we stand before the race weekend starts. I was very strong in Malaysia last year. The last race at the Phillip Island circuit wasn’t fantastic, but it was also not so bad, there were some positive points. The Sepang track is of course completely different and has very different conditions from what we experienced at the last round. This GP will be a lot more demanding physically for everybody, but we’ll see. For sure we will do our best again.”