For the second Grand Prix in succession, it was a case of what might have been for the Penrith-based PBM MotoGP Team as both Michael Laverty and Damian Cudlin left round 15 of the MotoGP World Championship at Sepang empty handed.
In a virtual repeat scenario of two weeks ago at Aragon, Ulsterman Laverty crashed out aboard the CRT-specification Aprilia ART and Australian Cudlin retired the PBM-chassised Aprilia with a technical problem on his second ride for the team.
Laverty, from Toome in County Antrim, on the Rapid Solicitors and Minxflix.com-sponsored Aprilia ART for the second meeting, was continuing his progress aboard the machine and inside the top 20 for most of Free Practice at the Malaysian track, eventually qualifying on row seven in 19th place.
Meanwhile German-based Cudlin spent more time getting used to the unique Rapid Solicitors and Minxflix.com-sponsored PBM machine and qualified in 24th place on row eight.
In the race, both Laverty and Cudlin got good starts and ran strongly for the opening laps but for Michael, he was deemed to have been one of three riders who jumped the start and was penalised with a ride through penalty. What made it worse for the former British Supersport champion was that he was up to 15th place when he had to enter the pits for the penalty.
Cudlin was inside the top 20 when he retired on lap seven with a technical problem and the team's day was compounded when Laverty crashed out at the final hairpin on unlucky lap 13 when pushing to make up the time lost in the pits.
Despite not scoring points since round three at Jerez, Laverty remains in 24th overall in the MotoGP World Championship standings in his debut season. In the Claiming Rules Teams (CRT) class, Laverty is in tenth whereas PBM occupy eighth in the Constructors Championship and 12th in the Teams Championship in their debut season with their brand new British-built machine.
Michael Laverty: "Things didn't quite go my way on race day here at Sepang. Hector Barbera jumped the start in front of me, and I instinctively dropped the clutch and jerked forward. Unfortunately any movement before the lights is deemed a jump start. I was up to 15th position but the ride through penalty ruined any chance of scoring points which we had the pace to do today. I then had a small crash pushing hard trying to catch the guys in front. Hopefully a bit of luck comes our way next weekend in Phillip Island."
Damian Cudlin: "Bad luck struck again which was a real pity. Before the exhaust ruptured I'd moved forward in the race and was enjoying a scrap with Staring and Scassa, but eventually the seat unit turned into a frying pan and I couldn't sit on it any longer, I think I'll need some Aloe Vera lotion for my butt tonight! Despite another setback, I feel we made progress here this weekend and I'm really enjoying riding for the PBM Team. Hopefully luck will finally swing our way at Phillip Island next week."
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "After a double DNF at the last race, I didn't think things could get any worse, but in Sepang it certainly didn't get any better either! Michael got caught out with another rider's jump start and after serving a ride through penalty he suffered a crash later in the race, so not a good afternoon. Damian was having a strong race but suffered a failure of a new performance upgrade component, which resulted in excessive heat being transferred to the seat unit, making it impossible to continue. Although we were aware of the fragility of this component, we deemed the performance gain was worth the risk but have learned the hard way to be more cautious in the future. On the positive side, both the bike setting and Damian's feeling with the bike and tyres is improving and as he has previous race experience at the next two circuits we are hopeful of achieving some good results."
Round 16 of the MotoGP World Championship takes place next weekend at Phillip Island in Australia.