The grid is set for the Malaysia Grand Prix in Sepang, Round 15 of the 2010 MotoGP Championship, with Fiat Yamaha rider and series leader Jorge Lorenzo starting from the pole.
If the Spaniard finishes ninth or higher, he will clinch the 2010 MotoGP title. His teammate, Valentino Rossi, clinched last year’s title at the same race in Sepang.
Joining Lorenzo on the front row are Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden and Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso.
Here’s an offical history or MotoGP racing at Malaysia since GPs started there 20 years ago. The first Malaysian Grand Prix was held in 1991 and has taken place every year since, with three different venues having been used; Shah Alam, Johor and Sepang.
Below is a reminder of the notable highlights of the previous Grand Prix events in Malaysia.
1991/Shah Alam – The first Malaysian Grand Prix saw a debut win in the premier-class for John Kocinski riding a Yamaha. Italian riders dominated the smaller classes with Luca Cadalora (Honda) winning the 250cc race and Loris Capirossi (Honda) in the 125cc class.
1992/Shah Alam – Mick Doohan (Honda) won the 500cc race, which was stopped and restarted when it started to rain, from great rival Wayne Rainey. Alex Criville finished third – the first 500cc podium by a Spanish rider. Luca Cadalora repeated his victory of the previous year in the 250cc class, while the 125cc race was won by Alessandro Gramigni on his way to becoming the first rider to win a world title riding an Aprilia.
1993/Shah Alam – Wayne Rainey (Yamaha) scored a clear start-to-finish victory in the 500cc race from Daryl Beattie and Kevin Schwantz. There was controversy in the 250cc race when six riders were adjudged to have jumped the start and given a one minute penalty with the final result being the first ever all Japanese podium in the 250cc class with Nobuatsu Aoki (Honda) scoring his only Grand Prix victory from Tetsuya Harada and Tadayuki Okada. Dirk Raudies (Honda) took the honours in the 125cc class and was to become the 1993 world champion.
1994/Shah Alam – Mick Doohan took a comfortable victory on his way to winning the first of his five world titles. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) scored the first of four successive victories in the 250cc class.
1995/Shah Alam – Mick Doohan took his third victory in Malaysia, this time from fellow Australian Daryl Beattie. Garry McCoy had his first ever Grand Prix victory in the 125cc class for which he was awarded half points due to the race being stopped after twelve laps when it started to rain.
1996/Shah Alam – Luca Cadalora won the opening 500cc race of the year on his debut, riding a Honda prepared by Erv Kanemoto, after Tadayuki Okada had claimed pole position on the debut of the V-twin Honda 500cc two- stroke.
1997/Shah Alam – This was the seventh and final visit to the Shah Alam circuit and both Mick Doohan and Max Biaggi (now riding a Honda) won for the fourth time in their respective classes. Valentino Rossi (Aprilia) won the 125cc race on his way to taking his first world title.
1998/Johor – The one and only visit by the Grand Prix riders to the Johor circuit resulted in another victory for Mick Doohan on his way to the last of his five world titles.
1999/Sepang – On the first visit to the Sepang circuit Kenny Roberts Jnr won on his debut riding the factory Suzuki. Loris Capirossi started the defense of his 250cc title with a narrow victory from Tohru Ukawa. Masao Azuma won the 125cc race riding a Honda shod with Bridgestone tires.
2000/Sepang – Kenny Roberts repeated his victory of the previous year on his way to becoming the 500cc world champion. The 250cc class was a battle between Yamaha team-mates Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque, with Nakano taking the win.
2001/Sepang – Valentino Rossi (Honda) won the last 500cc race to be held at the Sepang circuit. Daijiro Kato (Honda) took the victory in the 250cc class to clinch the world title.
2002/Sepang – Max Biaggi, riding a Yamaha, won the first race at Sepang for the four-stroke MotoGP era, from great rival Valentino Rossi.
2003/Sepang – Valentino Rossi (Honda) won the MotoGP race to clinch his third premier-class title. Spanish riders dominated the smaller classes with Toni Elias (Aprilia) winning the 250cc race and Dani Pedrosa (Honda) winning in the 125cc class to take his first world title at the age of 18.
2004/Sepang – Valentino Rossi repeated the victory of the previous year but this time on a Yamaha. Having moved up to the 250cc class, Dani Pedrosa won for the second successive year at Sepang. Andrea Dovizioso clinched the world title by finishing second in the 125cc race behind Casey Stoner, who scored the first ever Grand Prix victory for KTM.
2005/Sepang – Loris Capirossi won the race with team-mate Carlos Checa finishing third – the first time that Ducati had two riders on a MotoGP podium. Valentino Rossi finished second to clinch his fifth world title in the premier-class. Casey Stoner (Aprilia) won the 250cc race after championship leader Dani Pedrosa had crashed on lap 2. Thomas Luthi (Honda) took the win in the 125cc class by just two thousandths of a second from Mika Kallio.
2006/Sepang – Valentino Rossi took the MotoGP victory after a race long battle with Loris Capirossi. The grid positions had been decided by the times in the free-practice sessions after torrential rain had flooded the circuit, causing the MotoGP qualifying session to be cancelled. The smaller classes were both won by Spanish riders who would become world champions in 2006; Jorge Lorenzo (Aprilia) in the 250cc class and Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) in the 125cc class.
2007/Sepang – The dominant rider of the first year under the 800cc capacity rule, Casey Stoner (Ducati), won for the tenth time in 2007. Gabor Talmacsi (Aprilia) won the 125cc race on his way to becoming the first Hungarian rider ever to win a world title in Grand Prix motorcycle racing.
2008/Sepang – Valentino Rossi won for the fifth time at Sepang from Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, who finished on the podium for the first time since moving up to the MotoGP class. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) won the 250cc race, but a third place finish for Marco Simoncelli (Gilera) was enough for him to clinch the world title. Gabor Talmacsi repeated his victory of the previous year; this was the last time Talmacsi stood on the top step of a GP podium.
2009/Sepang – Casey Stoner won the MotoGP race last year in Malaysia, which was delayed by over 30 minutes due to heavy rain falling, as riders assembled on the grid. The race was run in wet conditions, with the riders lap- ping around 12 seconds off the lap record. Valentino Rossi finished third to clinch his ninth world title and seventh in the premier-class. The two smaller classes were won by riders who would take their respective world titles in 2009 – Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) and Julian Simon (Aprilia).