Following a dominant win in Japan last weekend, Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa is the man on-song as he tries to claw back points on Yamaha Factory Racing’s championship leader Jorge Lorenzo as the MotoGP grid heads to this weekend’s Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
It will be a very emotional return to the track, where the then San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli tragically lost his life in the opening stages of last year’s race, which was subsequently cancelled.
Pedrosa pretty much has to win every single race in order to stand a chance at taking the championship. Lorenzo, who holds a 28-point advantage with 75 still on offer, is looking strong, yet not quite able to hold his rival’s pace.
But despite the points being stacked in his favour and second-, or even third-place finishes being enough for him to win the title at the end of the season, the Mallorcan has stated that he goes to Malaysia to win, as there remains the mathematical possibility of him taking the title on Sunday.
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner did well on his return from injury in Japan to finish fifth, yet the reigning world champion will not declare himself happy until he is back to winning ways. Despite showing front-runner pace, the Australian has cited issues with maximum lean angle due to his ankle movement, and fatigue by using usually unused muscles to compensate for his lack of ankle strength. Yet with one race weekend under his belt, he is sure to go one better in Malaysia.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso, who only lies five points off Stoner in the standings, will be hoping the Honda rider doesn’t find his stride too soon, as the Italian aims to get the upper hand for third in the table. He will once again face a stern challenge however from his teammate Cal Crutchlow, who will look to put the disappointment of running out of fuel in the last race behind him, and focus solely on the terrific display that nearly saw him snatch a podium.
In the battle for fifth in the table things are hotting up, with San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista taking the lead with his hard-fought podium in Japan. Heading into Malaysia he will be brimming not only with confidence, but also peace of mind with his contract renewed for a further year.
LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl will hope that his arm-pump problem stays away in Malaysia, while Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi will be aiming to squeeze yet further performance out of his Desmosedici. Rear wheel spin was a big problem for the Italian outfit in Japan.
Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden, who rode with a fractured right radius will be a week further into his healing process, yet will no doubt still suffer slightly under heavy braking.
Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá and Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham will hope to stick with the factory Ducatis this weekend, and fend off the top CRT runners in the process.
Power Electronics Aspar rider Aleix Espargaró will look to strengthen his grip on the CRT field in Sepang, yet will face a stiff challenge from teammate Randy de Puniet, who had a Japan to forget.
The Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix could see Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez crowned Moto2 World Champion if he beats Tuenti Movil HP 40’s Pol Espargaró in the race this weekend.
Márquez will however be looking to put his memories of last year to rest as a heavy crash in practice saw him unable to compete, ultimately costing him a shot at the title. And in the form he is currently in, with his 53-point advantage, there is every possibility he will be crowned.
Following a crash in Japan that put paid to his title aspirations for another week, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese will have another chance this weekend to snatch the Moto3 world title.
In Japan he was only three corners away from being crowned, before his teammate Danny Kent and Team Italian FMI’s Alessandro Tonucci got past him, after which the German crashed and finished in sixth, yet still gaining a 56-point lead.