Marquez wins Malaysian MotoGP, Rossi crashes out of the lead

Marquez wins Malaysian MotoGP, Rossi crashes out of the lead

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) claimed his 70th career win after taking victory at the Shell Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The 2018 Champion looked set to lock horns with nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), but the race would end in disaster for ‘The Doctor’, as Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) completed the podium at the Sepang International Circuit.

When the lights went out it was Rossi who got a stellar launch from P2, with pole man Zarco slightly sluggish off the line – ‘The Doctor’ got a comfortable holeshot, with Zarco managing to brake late to slot into P2. Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) was able to leapfrog Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) into P3 at the start, with Marquez making up one position in P6.

The premier class riders then settled, but this came after Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) exchanged paint on the opening lap. the 2018 Champion would soon start to make his way forward though, despite a hairy last corner moment at the end of the opening lap that led to Iannone crashing out directly behind the seven-time Champion.

At the front, Rossi and Zarco were off as Yamaha had a 1-2 in the opening exchanges, but Marquez hunted them down after making his way past Miller. The Honda rider was on the tailpipes of Zarco’s M1 machine and soon enough he managed to slice his way through. Turn 14 the chosen destination after a slight error from the number 5 machine, with arch-rival Rossi now in his sights. But the number 46 was in an excellent rhythm at the forefront as the gap between the duo hovered at 3/4s of a second, with Zarco beginning to lose touch at the halfway stage of the race as Rossi continued to press on – 1.1 now the gap to Marquez as 10 laps ticked over at Sepang.

With eight to go, Rossi was still pumping in the lap times to keep the gap above a second to Marquez, with Zarco now over three seconds behind his fellow Yamaha rider. However, the gap then dipped below the one-second barrier with seven to go – the seven-time Champion was hunting down the nine-time Champion with menace. As ever, Marquez was pushing the limit and there was a slight scare for the number 93 at Turn 5. A ‘mini Marquez moment’, let’s say.

Five to go at Sepang, the gap? 0.7, as we set ourselves for a grandstand finish between two of the sports all-time greats. But then, disaster for ‘The Doctor’. A return to victory after 26 races went begging as he lost the front of his YZR-M1 at Turn 1 with four laps to go. You could hear the hearts of thousands break as he picked up his stricken Yamaha in front of the official Rossi grandstand. This left Marquez with a lonely ride home in P2, but the battle for P2 and P3 between Zarco and Rins was far from finished.

Last lap time: Zarco led onto it but Rins was soon past, with the Frenchman having no answer to the Suzuki. Rins would cross the line to take his fourth podium of the season, Zarco took his first since Jerez. After a less than impressive start, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) recovered to string together a strong latter half of the Grand Prix to finish P4, with Pedrosa crossing the line P5 on his final racing visit to the Sepang International Circuit. It was a subdued race for one of the pre-race favourites Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). The winner here for the last two seasons couldn’t replicate those results as he took P6, but after Rossi’s crash, the Italian has sealed P2 in the Championship.

GP of Malaysia - Race Classification: 

1. Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team    40'32.372 
2. Alex RINS Team SUZUKI ECSTAR    +1.898 
3. Johann ZARCO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +2.474 
4. Maverick VIÑALES Movistar Yamaha MotoGP +4.667 
5. Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team    +6.190 
6. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team    +11.248 
7. Alvaro BAUTISTA Angel Nieto Team    +15.611 
8. Jack MILLER Alma Pramac Racing    +19.009 
9. Danilo PETRUCCI Alma Pramac Racing    +22.921 
10. Hafizh SYAHRIN Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +26.919 
11. Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +29.503 
12. Franco MORBIDELLI EG 0,0 Marc VDS    +30.933 
13. Stefan BRADL LCR Honda CASTROL    +35.322 
14. Takaaki NAKAGAMI LCR Honda IDEMITSU +37.912 
15. Bradley SMITH Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +39.675 
16. Thomas LUTHI EG 0,0 Marc VDS    +41.820 
17. Xavier SIMEON Reale Avintia Racing    +43.978 
18. Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP +58.288 
19. Scott REDDING Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +1'00.191 
Not Classified 
17 Karel ABRAHAM Angel Nieto Team 
44 Pol ESPARGARO Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 
51 Michele PIRRO Ducati Team 

MotoGP World Standings 2018: 
1. Marc MARQUEZ Honda    321 
2. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 220 
3. Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 195 
4. Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 193 
5. Alex RINS Suzuki    149 
6. Johann ZARCO Yamaha 149 
7. Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 148 
8. Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 144 
9. Andrea IANNONE Suzuki 133 
10. Jorge LORENZO Ducati 130 
11. Dani PEDROSA Honda    106 
12. Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati 105 
13. Jack MILLER Ducati    91 
14. Franco MORBIDELLI Honda 50 
15. Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 44 
16. Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha 40 
17. Tito RABAT Ducati    35 
19. Bradley SMITH KTM    30 
20. Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda 23 
21. Scott REDDING Aprilia    15 
22. Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 10 
23. Mika KALLIO KTM    6 
24. Stefan BRADL Honda    3 
25. K. NAKASUGA Yamaha 2 
26. Xavier SIMEON Ducati    1 
27. Michele PIRRO Ducati 1 
28. Thomas LUTHI Honda 
29. Jordi TORRES Ducati 
30. Mike JONES Ducati 
31. Sylvain GUINTOLI Suzuki 
32. Christophe PONSSON Ducati