As the MotoGP teams were making preparations 30 minutes before the start of their race, the heavens opened up and completely changed the complexion of the race—one where Valentino Rossi could clinch his ninth World Championship by finishing at least fourth if title rival and Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo won the race. All the previous practice and qualifying sessions had been in the dry, so the teams had no real data to work from; it would basically be a crapshoot as the riders began to take their sighting laps after a 30-minute delay from the scheduled start. The riders were given the opportunity to make two sighting laps because of the conditions, and that’s where Lorenzo’s weekend began to unravel. A problem with his number one bike forced him to be late starting his first sighting lap on his number two machine, and when he came in to try and change back to the primary racebike, the pit lane exit was closed, forcing him to start from the back of the grid.
Both Rossi and Lorenzo had...
Both Rossi and Lorenzo had to work their way through the pack from poor first lap positions, with Rossi and Lorenzo finishing third and fourth respectively.
A wet race is always fraught with unknowns though, and this was no exception. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa made his usual holeshot to lead the first half lap before Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner quickly made his way past; the Australian quickly made short work of the field and conditions, turning lap times almost a second quicker than anyone else as he disappeared off into the distance to win the race by over 15 seconds. Rossi appeared poised to take advantage of Lorenzo’s misfortune, but he ran wide in Turn Four and was immediately swallowed up by the pack. Meanwhile, Lorenzo made an incredible start, and by the end of the first lap he was already past Rossi and making a charge to the front. Rossi knew he had to keep Lorenzo in sight, so he quickly latched onto his teammate’s tail as the pair knifed through the pack. The rain stopped by midrace and the track began to dry out, and Lorenzo’s torrid pace soon wrecked his rain tires, allowing Rossi to get past; Rossi ended up third behind Pedrosa, with Lorenzo fourth, clinching Rossi’s incredible seventh premier class World Championship and ninth world title.
Valentino Rossi cemented his...
Valentino Rossi cemented his name in the record books with his ninth World Championship, his seventh in the premier category.
"It's great to be World Champion again, I am very proud to have done this nine times in my career,” remarked a happy Rossi. “I want to thank everyone in my team, Furusawa-san, Davide Brivio, Lin Jarvis, Jeremy...everybody! This season has been very hard and Lorenzo especially has pushed me to new limits, but I think it's been a great duel for everyone to watch. Today was unbelievable, when the rain came it was scary for everyone because all the work we'd done was then useless and we were riding ‘blind' with the setting. I made a mistake at the first corner and then I was a long way back, so I think I did a great race to finish third! I was going to try to pass Dovizioso when he fell and then for a few laps I thought I would try to get Pedrosa but with wet tires on a drying track it was a bit risky by then and so I decided to be safe. It's a fantastic feeling to take this title with Yamaha again and I also must thank Bridgestone, who have done a great job with the tires all year. My celebration was because in Italy we say an old chicken makes good soup but can no longer lay eggs! I am like the old chicken—30 years old now—but I have made another egg! That's nine!".
Lorenzo was gracious in defeat, but knows he has a great career still ahead of him in only his second MotoGP season. "I want to start by giving my congratulations to Valentino and all his team. He is the champion. As for the race, today was a difficult day. We improved in the warm-up and I was hoping to have a good race, but when it started to rain we had problems to turn on the bike. We had planned to ride two laps, but I didn't have enough time and the pit-lane was closed. Then had to begin from last position, but I did one of my best ever starts! The first corner was incredible, but as time went on I began to have some grip problems, like during the whole weekend. However it was a great race for me in difficult circumstances and we finished fourth, not so bad. It's been a great season and I could never have expected to be fighting with Valentino like this so early in my career. Now I just need one point in Valencia and I will have my goal of being the vice-champion."
Showing he is clearly back...
Showing he is clearly back on form after his two-month sabbatical, Casey Stoner ran away from the pack at Sepang to win by 15 seconds.
Clearly back on form after a two-month midseason sabbatical to find a solution to his still-mysterious fatiguing illness, Stoner was obviously happy with his second consecutive victory. "I didn’t get a brilliant start but I was happy to be in fourth as we came out of turn two and by the end of the first lap I was clear by a second. I have to be honest, I didn’t expect to be so far ahead so early in the race but when I looked up and saw 3 seconds on my pit board I decided to step the pace up even more and try an escape. I kept pulling out a second a lap and then eventually decided to back it off and not take any risks. This is another fantastic day for us and I want to thank everybody in the team for their effort. We’ve struggled with the bike in the wet this season but everybody has worked so well and the difference today was clear to see. We’re really strong now and I can only see us getting stronger from here, which is great news for next season. I want to congratulate Valentino because to win nine World Championships is an incredible achievement. I’m sure that if we continue to work like this ourselves we can put up a much stronger challenge next time.”
Dani Pedrosa posted his best...
Dani Pedrosa posted his best wet race finish with a second place at Sepang. Teammate Andrea Dovisioso (4) didn't fare so well, crashing out of a podium spot halfway through the race.
Pedrosa was clearly happy to have gotten the “rain monkey” off his back with a solid runner-up finish. “Riding in the rain has always been one of my weakest points and so for a long time I have tried to improve this by working hard and going over my limit in the wet. This hasn’t been an easy process, but now, finally, I achieved a podium in the wet, so I’m really happy and I want to thank all the people who have helped in this process. In the middle of the race Andrea was just behind and he was closing and was putting some pressure on me, but I was riding well and I was able to keep my focus and concentration. Finally when Andrea went off, another rider was coming and this time it was Valentino. He was going quite a lot faster than me, but in the last laps I kept my rhythm and was able to finish in second place. I’m very happy today. I also want to congratulate Valentino on the world championship; nine titles is amazing. Now we go to Valencia and we’ll be trying hard again there. It’s a track that I love and there will be a lot of fans too, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Nicky Hayden rode hard to...
Nicky Hayden rode hard to a well-deserved fifth place finish in the wet at Sepang.
“We’ll take a top five, that’ll work for us,” said Stoner’s teammate Nicky Hayden after fighting his way to well-deserved fifth place. “I was quite excited when it started to rain because I’ve been on the pace with this bike in the wet this year and I felt I could do something special. Unfortunately I struggled a lot on the brakes in the beginning and a lot of guys came past. From there I had a lot of fun passing and fighting with people, trying to close down the gap to the lead group, but I was just missing a little bit to really go with Rossi and Lorenzo and try to fight for the podium. When Vermeulen came I knew he was a rain specialist so I pushed hard to make sure he didn’t see a crack in the door and think he could push it open. I’ve been fourth here five times so I’m only one spot off my mark! After Phillip Island it seems every time we try to get something going we have huge bad luck but I’m thankful I have a team who keep working and never give up – we’re trying to build something here together and we’re making progress. Even this weekend we were consistently up near the top. I have to say congratulations to Casey and Valentino. It wasn’t a terrible day for us either but now we go to Valencia and try to build on it again.”
Colin Edwards could never...
Colin Edwards could never get going during the Sepang MotoGP weekend, and his struggles continued in the race where he ended up a disappointed 13th.
A disappointed Colin Edwards was circumspect about his difficult 13th place finish, even though he gained valuable points on Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovisioso in their battle for fifth in the championship when the Italian crashed out of the race on the 14th lap. “The weekend wasn't great to be honest,” admitted Edwards. “The bike wasn't fast in the dry for some reason and I just couldn't get going all weekend. We tried a different setting this morning and it felt better, but it certainly wasn't a miracle spark. But with the rain coming like it did it just made it a guessing game. I did two warm-up laps behind Valentino to check the conditions and from that moment the front feeling wasn't great. Even then I was worried I wouldn't be able to get any weight on the front and that's exactly what happened. I could carry the lean angle I wanted but the front wouldn't load at all, so I couldn't get the bike turned. When it was properly wet I felt like I was upping my pace and closing in on the group for tenth, but then the tires started heating up and I was sideways all of the time. In the final laps I was losing a lot of time. I'm going to Valencia still fighting for fifth in the championship with Dovizioso crashing, but I don't like taking profit from the mistakes of other people. I just want to say congratulations to Yamaha and Valentino. He's done another amazing job and nine world titles is just a phenomenal achievement."
1. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA Yamaha
4. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha
5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati
6. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki
7. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda
8. Marco Melandri (ITA) Kawasaki
9. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Suzuki
10. Mika Kallio (FIN) Ducati