Following a superb victory at the Phillip Island track last Sunday, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team is fully motivated to turn up ready for combat again this weekend at the Sepang International Circuit.
This race weekend will be testing the riders’ stamina even more than usual, as the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix is the last of the triple back-to-back races, and the region is known for its extreme heat. Nevertheless, Valentino Rossi is looking forward to getting back into action this weekend at the Sepang track, and for good reasons.
The Doctor has had his fair share of success in Malaysia. He delighted the fans by snatching victories in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, securing second places in 2002, 2005, 2014, and 2016, and taking third places in 2009 and 2015. This weekend he hopes to add another top result to this impressive list in order to inch closer to second position in the championship standings, from which he’s currently 15 points adrift, as he holds on to third place.
Having stepped onto the top step of the Australian rostrum last weekend, Maverick Viñales is now just 15 points behind his teammate and currently still in fourth position in the overall rankings. The recent victory leaves him even more impatient to meet his fans at the Malaysian track, which is another strong circuit for him.
The Spaniard is determined to keep his newly gained momentum going this weekend, especially as he’s yet to claim a premier class MotoGP prize in Sepang. In previous years he reached the podium on two occasions, securing a win in the 125cc class in 2011 and in the Moto2 race in 2014. In 2016 he secured sixth place, his best premier class placement at this track thus far.
The Sepang International Circuit held 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, which has to be completed in extremely hot and humid conditions, making this weekend’s GP, at the end of the triple-header, extra challenging for the riders.
Championship: 3rd – Points: 195
“Unfortunately in Australia I lost important points for the championship and I’m very disappointed about that, but I’m happy for Maverick and for Yamaha. Now we have to concentrate on the third and last race overseas at Sepang and it will be important to have a good weekend. We must continue to work hard because we have to be competitive at every race. Sepang is not one of our favourite tracks, but we will always try our hardest to get the best results possible.”
Championship: 4th – Point: 180
“After the victory in Australia, sincerely, I’m very happy. The team has worked very hard to overcome the crisis that we were going through. I’m feeling comfortable and I’ve regained my confidence. But we have to think about the next race in Sepang. We are highly motivated. It’s a circuit with very different climate conditions to those we’ve had in Phillip Island and in Japan – it’s always really hot and that makes it a very physically demanding race. I thought we made an important step in Phillip Island and actually I felt really good on my M1. We are on the right path and if we continue like this, hopefully we can finish the season with more victories.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“The win in Australia was fantastic for the team, but we have only a little time to enjoy it, because we have to focus on the Malaysian GP this weekend. That said, Maverick’s victory does help, as it gives the team extra motivation, so we can start the race weekend with a positive mindset. Many factors come into play at the race weekend in Sepang. It’s the last GP of the triple-header, so the riders’ physical condition can play a big part, especially because they’re riding in hot and humid weather. After two hard-fought races, we’re ready for the final push. For sure, both our riders would like to continue challenging at the front and finish the 2018 season in the best way possible, so that will be our objective.”