Thanks to a formidable performance at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) picked up his second win of the 2019 season in emphatic style. The Spaniard raced clear of a recovering second-place Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) fought off Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) for P3.
Starting from P11 – his worst qualifying since Mugello 2015 – Marquez needed a lightning start. Both he and Dovizioso, the Italian starting P10, did exactly that as they blasted into Turn 1. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) launched from P4 and managed to grab the lead on the opening lap, but it was a bad start for polesitter Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as the Frenchman fell to P7, Marquez getting the better of him immediately.
It didn’t take long before Viñales had snatched the baton from Miller though, the Yamaha sliding up the inside of the Ducati at Turn 11 as Marquez passed Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) for P4 on the opening lap. A frantic first lap wasn’t over though as Dovizioso and Miller battled for P2 at Turn 14 and Turn 15. The Desmosedici duo ran slightly wide at the final corner and sniffing a chance, Marquez pounced and sat up Miller – but the Australian grunted past Marquez heading into Turn 1 on Lap 2.
The jostling was only helping Viñales’ cause though, the number 12 rider raced to a 0.6 second lead as he set a 1:59.9 on Lap 2 to unleash himself from the MotoGP freight train. Marquez knew he had to make up ground quickly and on Lap 3 the World Champion was past Miller for P2, but it was going to take some doing to reel in Viñales.
With Viñales flying and Marquez chasing, the battle for the final podium spot was well and truly on. Dovizioso grabbed P3 from Miller on Lap 4 and The Doctor was also going great guns to challenge Miller too. After a couple of goes, Rossi dispatched Miller at Turn 9 as the Australian saved a crash – was the Pramac man hitting tyre troubles in the soaring heat?
Well, shortly after, things got heated between Miller and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) at the final corner as the two made contact. At the front, Viñales was holding a 1.4/1.5 lead over Marquez as Dovizioso and Rossi were unable to keep tabs on the Honda. It quickly became a battle for the final podium spot between the two veteran Italians, with Rossi finding it tough going to make a pass stick due to Dovizioso’s superior straight-line power.
While Miller slipped back into the clutches of Petronas Yamaha SRT duo and Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu), Rins was making forward progress. Viñales was comfortable out front, Marquez wasn’t being troubled in P2 but the P3 battle was on. Dovi vs Rossi, Rins closing in. With six laps to go Rins had cut a two-second gap down to under a second, with Rossi again unable to make a late, lunging pass at Turn 9 stick on Dovizioso.
Heading onto the final couple of laps there was nothing to choose between Dovi, Rossi and Rins for P3. Viñales was now three seconds clear of Marquez as the duo rounded the final lap to claim tremendous respective results. Viñales untouchable in Malaysia, Marquez claiming another top-two finish.
Rossi’s wait for a podium goes on after being unable to get the better of Dovizioso in Sepang, but it wasn’t through a lack of effort. Rins bridged the gap to the Italians but couldn’t ultimately mount a challenge for a rostrum. It wasn’t the Sunday Petronas Yamaha SRT would have been looking for as Morbidelli and Quartararo picked up P6 and P7 respectively.
Miller slipped back to P9 to finish as the second Ducati, Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) notched up P9. Closing out the top 10 was Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) after the Spaniard was involved in an incident with Zarco at Turn 14. With four laps to go, while battling with Miller, Mir made a lunge up the inside of the Frenchman which led to the Honda rider crashing. Mir was judged to have been at fault as the rookie was handed a long-lap penalty.
After outstanding weekends in Australia, Malaysia wasn’t so fortunate for Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol). Both riders crashed during the race, both riders were thankfully okay.
A stunning performance now sets Viñales and Yamaha up for a phenomenal end to the 2019 campaign in Valencia, with Marquez picking up another record – the most points scored in a premier class season. One last race weekend awaits in two weeks’ time as the MotoGP riders aim to end the season on a high, as well as giving themselves a nice springboard into 2020.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’ Alex Marquez is the 2019 Moto2 World Champion after coming across the line second at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix behind Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder, who did all he could to take the title fight down to the final round by taking his fourth win of the season.
It was the South African who took the holeshot from the outside of the front row of the grid with Marquez settling into second having started from pole. The pair began to pull clear of ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Tetsuta Nagashima, who had his eye on a debut intermediate class podium.
As the fight for the World Championship raged at the front, the battle over being crowned Rookie of the Year in Moto2 took not one, not two but three twists as leading contenders Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up), Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) all crashed out in the space of two laps.
On lap four, Binder made a mistake into Turn 14, running extremely wide and consequently gifting the lead to Marquez. The Spaniard had 15 laps ahead of him with the 2019 Moto2™ crown now insight. Binder, however, would make him work for it and, with now 12 laps remaining, he made the first lunge under Marquez to try to reclaim the lead. He would run wide at Turn 15, allowing Marquez back through, but quickly tucked in behind the Kalex before pulling out and diving through on the brakes into the first corner.
The pair’s squabble at the front would allow Nagashima and another title protagonist in the form of Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) back into the mix too. That was before Nagashima had a huge moment as he wound it up onto the back straight and, as a result, the Japanese rider slipped back to fourth and lost touch with Marquez. Now it was up to Lüthi to try to stop Marquez from wrapping up the title.
As the Swiss rider pushed hard and tried to get to within half a second of the number 73 ahead of him, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) had a coming together at Turn 9. The Briton tried to squeeze past the Aussie but got it all wrong and ended up taking both of them out of top ten contention.
The laps ticked away and the pressure mounted, but Marquez didn’t fold as the leading trio entered the final lap. No last lap drama followed, meaning Binder came out of the final corner and celebrated a fourth intermediate class victory of the season but there were wilder celebrations just half a second later when Marquez crossed the line and became the first man in history to have won the Moto3 and Moto2 World Championships. Lüthi took third and a seventh rostrum of the season, but the sixteen points weren’t enough to hold onto second in the standings as Binder leapfrogged him.
Fourth place went the way of Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) having got the better of Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) in the final laps. Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) came across the line in a lonely sixth, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP40) three-quarters of a second behind in seventh. Nagashima eventually faded in the closing stages and ended up eighth despite being in podium contention up to half race distance. The top ten was completed by Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) in ninth and Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) in tenth.
With only two riders from the intermediate class making the step up to MotoGP in 2020, Binder and Lecuona, there's some serious momentum to be built at the final round of the year in Valencia. Who will take the title fight to Marquez in 2020? You're likely to get your best indication in two weeks.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) produced a Champion’s ride to claim his third-straight victory of the season at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix. The 2019 Moto3™ title winner beat rookie Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) – who started from the back of the grid – in an intensely fought lightweight class contest.
Ahead of the race start on the way round to the grid, it was a disaster for Masia as his KTM machine suffered a problem down at Turn 14. Thankfully the Spaniard was able to get going and joined the Warm Up lap, but he would have to surrender his P11 grid slot for a back of the grid launch. Further forward it was SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Tatsuki Suzuki who made the best launch from the front row as the Japanese rider led the Moto3 pack down the long stretch into Turn 1, but Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) broke latest to grab the holeshot.
There were plenty of chopping and changing for the lead on the opening laps as polesitter Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), Suzuki and the fast-starting Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) jostled for the lead. And it was a fascinating fight at the front, two and a half seconds separated the top 17 in the opening handful of laps before drama unfolded at the front. On Lap 6 Rodrigo held the baton but on the exit of Turn 4, the Argentinian highsided. This left second place man Suzuki with nowhere to go and the leading duo crashed, with Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) unable to avoid one of the stricken Hondas as the Spaniard crashed heavily. Luckily, none of the riders were seriously hurt as the pack got split.
Ramirez had to take avoiding action on the grass and the polesitter lost considerable ground. But teammate and reigning Champion Dalla Porta capitalised on the drama to grab the race by the scruff of the neck. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) was the man in P2 as the leading four of Dalla Porta, Vietti, Arenas and Masia – who had made up eight places at Turn 1 on Lap 1 alone – found themselves with a gap. Slipstream prevailed and the likes of John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Garcia closed the gap to the leading quartet, but Dalla Porta was looking strong at the front. Could anyone stop the Italian from taking his third win in a row? Vietti had the bit between his teeth but the Honda power down the straight wasn’t allowing the KTMs of Vietti, Arenas and Masia to stand a chance against the Honda. With three laps to go there was a group of 10 riders all within a shout of the Sepang rostrum, Dalla Porta leading from Arenas with McPhee making a mistake at the final corner to drop to P8.
Heading onto the last lap, Dalla Porta held the lead down the straight but Vietti made a cracking move into Turn 1. The KTM man led round the fast Turn 3 – but that was Dalla Porta territory. The Champion got great drive into Turn 4 but he was hot, Vietti getting the switchback to keep the lead. Turn 9 – a typical overtaking spot – then shortly followed. Dalla Porta dived for the lead and made it stick, with Arenas and Vietti contact giving the number 48 a half-second advantage. A decisive moment that ultimately handed Dalla Porta the win. Garcia was then hunting second place Arenas into the final corner and, after the latter crashed, Garcia would come home to take his maiden rostrum. Masia’s P3 was simply outstanding. Flat battery to podium for the Mugen Race rider – ride of the day for sure. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) missed out on a second podium of the season by 0.082, Vietti settled for P5 having led on the last lap.
Ramirez’ off-track excursion cost him a chance of victory, the polesitter claimed P6, with McPhee tackling tyre problems to take P7 for Petronas Sprinta Racing at their home GP. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) couldn’t quite get into the rostrum scrap in P8 and P9, with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) rounding out the top 10.
Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) were involved in a Turn 4 incident with nine to go, Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power), teammate Darryn Binder and Stefano Nepa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) also crashed – riders ok.
Three in a row for Dalla Porta sees him assert dominance on the 2019 Moto3 World Championship. 10 podiums in 2019 has a chance of becoming 11 at the final round in Valencia – see you there in a couple of weeks’ for the last Moto3 action of 2019.