The pace refuses to ease off in the MotoGP 125cc category and Malaysia provides the next step in what has been a close chase for the title throughout the campaign.
With just 13 points currently separating Championship leader Nico Terol, Marc Márquez and Pol Espargaró, the margin for error is practically non-existent in the final four rounds.
With victory last time out in Japan – his seventh of the season – Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) closed the gap on Terol to six points, but the Bancaja Aspar rider’s consistency this year has seen him only finish off the podium once in the races he has started.
Second at Motegi maintained his position at the head of the standings.
Terol’s best previous result at Sepang was fifth last year, whilst Márquez’s two previous outings there have brought little luck for the 17 year-old who has not finished a race at the Malaysian track.
Espargaró (Tuenti Racing), who was fourth in Japan, placed third last season in the Malaysian round and will be looking to close up the gap to Terol in what is a tense Championship.
In fourth position Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar) has recorded back-to-back podiums in the previous two rounds and has the best record of any of the current 125cc riders at the Sepang circuit.
Second place in the last two seasons mean the Brit will be confident, especially given that none of the riders currently competing in the category have won a GP race in Malaysia prior to this weekend. He remains 55 points adrift of Espargaró in the standings.
Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo), Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) and Efrén Vázquez (Tuenti Racing) occupy positions fifth to seventh, whilst home rider Khairuddin Zulfahmi (AirAsia – Sepang International Circuit Team) will be eager to record a season’s best result in front of his home fans.
British rider Danny Kent and Italian Tommaso Gabrielli will continue as substitutes for the Lambretta Reparto Corse and Ongetta Team set-ups respectively.
The Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix gets underway at 12.40 p.m. local time on Friday with the start of the first 125cc practice session.