The two Ducati Team riders, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo, have arrived at Sepang for the penultimate round of the 2018 MotoGP season, which concludes in Valencia on 18 November.
The Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix takes places at the Sepang International Circuit, a track that is much appreciated by the riders and which has a series of features that make it ideal for modern-day MotoGP machines: long straights, a wide track and numerous overtaking opportunities. All the teams came to Malaysia in February for the first official pre-season MotoGP test, and once again it will be the hot sticky climate of this tropical country, together with the expected heavy rains, that will be a key factor throughout the weekend.
The Ducati Team has won five times at Sepang thanks to Loris Capirossi, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso, who triumphed in the last two editions. After being replaced in Australia by Álvaro Bautista, who scored an excellent fourth place finish at Phillip Island, Jorge Lorenzo returns to his Desmosedici GP mount, and in these last two races will try and finish his second and final season in Ducati in the best possible way. The Malaysian circuit is one of the few where the Spanish rider has never won a MotoGP race, but with the exception of a DNF in the 2008 race, Jorge has never been out of the top 4 in qualifying or the race, and he has finished runner-up three times and third at the flag on four occasions.
With two rounds remaining until the end of the championship, Dovizioso is in second place overall with 210 points, while Lorenzo is in ninth with 130 points.
The Sepang weekend programme gets underway on Friday morning with the first free practice session at 10.55 local time (03.55 CET), while the 20-lap race is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 15.00 (08.00 CET).
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2nd (210 points)
“Our main aim now is to try and win in Malaysia and for sure we can be competitive at Sepang, even though things are different than last year for many reasons. The fight for second place in the championship is now becoming interesting, because Rossi is still not far behind me, even though in Australia I gained a few points on him, so we must remain focussed because this is a track where he has always gone well.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 9th (130 points)
“Only eight days have passed since I had an operation on the ligament of my left wrist, but I’m feeling a bit better. For sure the operation was quite recent and so we’ll have to wait until I get on the bike to see how the wrist responds and if I still have a lot of pain when I ride. On Thursday I’ll go to the circuit medical staff for a check-up on my condition and I hope to be able to race even though I won’t be at 100%. I haven’t been able to train for the past few days and the Sepang circuit is very challenging, so this is not exactly an ideal scenario to return to the track.”
The Sepang International Circuit
Specifically built for speed and exciting racing, the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia is one of the world’s best. The 2,300-acre complex which also houses a hotel, shopping centre, golf course and other sports facilities cost around £50m to construct and was built in just 14 months, holding its first Grand Prix in April 1999 and setting the standard for race circuits worldwide. With four slow corners following two long straights and ten medium/high-speed corners, the wide track is particularly favourable to overtaking manoeuvres and plenty of open throttle. One of the longest laps in MotoGP is made all the more gruelling for riders by intense heat and humidity. Sepang is located around 50km south of the capital Kuala Lumpur.
Fastest Lap: Pedrosa (Honda) 1’59.053 (167.6 km/h) – 2015
Circuit Record: Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2’00.606 (165.4 km/h) – 2015
Best Pole: Pedrosa (Honda) 1’59.053 (167.6 km/h) – 2015
Top Speed: Iannone (Ducati) 339.6 km/h – 2015
Track Length: 5.5 km
Race Distance: 20 laps (110.9 km)
Corners: 15 (5 left, 10 right)
Race Start: 15.00 (08.00 CET)