Sepang MotoGP: Malaysia Preview

Malaysian MotoGP

With four rounds of the 2010 MotoGP Championship remaining, Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo may possibly clench the title this weekend at the Shell Advance Malaysian GP in Sepang, the second of three back-to-back races.

The Spaniard will enter Sepang 69 points of Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who is currently recovering from surgery. Pedrosa, also of Spain, broke his collarbone at practice last Friday for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.

Due to recovery, Pedrosa’s apperance on the Sepang circuit is highly doubtful, but he says his target for competing on the RC212V again will be Phillip Island in Australia, which is the week following Sepang.

Dani Pedrosa says: “I am still very stiff in my neck and across the back of my shoulders, so the target is to get back to racing in Australia. There is a very small possibility of going to Malaysia, but the realistic target is Australia. I had another check-up today and it shows clearly that the plate on my collarbone is very well fixed and the progress has been good after the operation.”

Going into Motegi last weekend, Lorenzo lead Pedrosa by 56 points. With Pedrosa out hurt at Motegi, Lorenzo had a great chance to clinch the title even earlier, but his teammate, Valentino Rossi, kept Lorenzo off the podium after some racing that brought back the spirit of the golden age of racing.

The two teammates bumped a few times on their M1 motorcycles, but Rossi got the best of Lorenzo. Although Lorenzo still placed fourth, he said some of Rossi’s moves during the battle were “on the limit.”

Also, the nine-time world champion took another podium from Lorenzo; during 14 rounds, Lorenzo was on the podium 12 times, which includes seven wins.

Lorenzo has some great memories in Sepang. He clinched the title there in 2007 in the former 250cc Class, and last year he still managed to finish fourth there, although he had some technical problems.

Jorge Lorenzo says: “Last year was a bit crazy with the rain and then I had to start from last on the grid! I would definitely prefer it to be dry this year. The team and I will focus in the same way we have all season, working hard from Friday and with the goal of podium or victory. We hope for the best result we can get.”

As Lorenzo chases the 2010 MotoGP title, Casey Stoner chases his third consecutive win ont the GP10. The Ducati Team rider, who currently holds third in the championship with 180 points, won at Aragon and Motegi, and also took victories in Sepang during his championship-winning year (2007) and last year.

Twenty-one points behind the Australian Stoner is Pedrosa’s teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, who had his best result of the year last week at Motegi, the Italian finishing in second after taking his first MotoGP pole. Also, Dovi took his first-ever podium finish in the premier class at Sepang in 2008.

Rossi trails Dovi by three points, and has won at Sepang an impressive five times. VR 46 also clenched last year’s title with a podium finish there last MotoGP season.

Two Americans hold the sixth and seventh spots in the championship, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Ben Spies and Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden, respectively. Spies has little experience except a few pre-season tests at the circuit, but Hayden has finished fourth at Sepang five times.

Rounding out the top ten in the championship are LCR Honda’s Randy de Puniet, Can Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli, and the last American currently competing in MotoGP, Spies’ teammate Colin Edwards.

MotoGP Championship Points (after 14 of 18 rounds):

1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 297

2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 228

3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 180

4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 159

5. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 156

6. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 139

7. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 129

8. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 88

9. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 84

10. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 81

11. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 79

12. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 69

13. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP GSVR 58

14. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team 52

15. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 41

16. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Interwetten-Honda MotoGP 35

17. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team 34

18. Alex de Angelis (ITA) Interwetten Honda MotoGP 11

19. Kousuke Akiyoshi (JPN) Interwetten Honda MotoGP 4

20. Wataru Yoshikawa (JPN) Fiat Yamaha Team 1

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One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).