2014 Sepang MotoGP Preview

The penultimate round of the 2014 MotoGP Championship at Sepang International Circuit concludes a grueling period of three back-to-back “flyaway” rounds.

It all began two weeks ago at Japan’s Motegi, where Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo took the win. But the round was more significant to the second-place finisher Marc Marquez; the Repsol Honda RC213V pilot clinched the 2014 MotoGP title there.

MotoGP then headed directly to Phillip Island in Australia. Though he had the title in hand, Marquez refused to rest. He took his 12th pole of the season – equaling the record of most poles in a single season with Casey Stoner and Mick Doohan – and was quickly in the lead.

But after opening up a four-second lead on the field, the two-time MotoGP Champ tucked the front end of his RC213V, crashing out with 10 laps to go. This allowed Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi to earn victory following some back-and-fourth battling with teammate Lorenzo.

The 35-year-old Italian secured his 82nd premier-class victory for a total of 108 wins across all classes. It was also the nine-time World Champion’s 250th GP start. The win allowed Rossi to move into second place in the standings, breaking his tie with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.

As the series heads this weekend to Sepang, all eyes will once again be on Marquez. If the 21-year-old Spaniard wins, he will tie Mick Doohan’s 1997 record of 12 wins in a single season. But first, he most overcome his crash at Phillip Island.

“It was a shame what happened in Australia, but anyway I was trying a different tactic and I’m lucky to be able to do this with the Championship already won,” Marquez says.

“On the way to Malaysia we visited Jakarta for an event with Honda, riding a MotoGP machine there for the first time which was a nice experience. Sepang is a circuit I like and the Honda performed well there last year with Dani first and myself second. Finding the best setup is very important here, especially in the braking so we will have to work hard on Friday and Saturday to prepare for the race.”

Marquez has one win at Sepang in the former 125cc class (2010, Derbi), and finished second last season behind teammate Pedrosa.

Pedrosa’s luck in Malaysia is much different. The Spaniard has won at Sepang the past two years, and will look to redeem himself from a DNF at Phillip Island. While running up front, Pedrosa was run into by a crashing Andrea Iannone on the Pramac Racing Ducati GP14. Pedrosa was forced to pit due to damage, and suffered a DNF.

Due to not finishing, he moved to fourth in the championship standings – 25 points behind second-placed Rossi, and 17 behind third-placed Lorenzo. The fight is on for second, and with two rounds remaining, Pedrosa still has a chance of finishing second overall for fourth time since joining the premier class in 2006.

As for Lorenzo, the Spaniard called his second-place in Australia the “luckiest second place of my career” due to his pace drastically dropping during the second half of the 27-lap event. That was his eight-straight podium of 2014 MotoGP.

As Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa vie for second overall, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso is comfortable in fifth place with 166 points. Dovi finished fifth last week at Phillip Island. His closest challenger – NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro – is sixth in points, 49 behind. Aleix – the top open-class rider all season – also crashed out of Phillip Island.

Dovizioso’s teammate Cal Crutchlow was in place to finish second at Phillip Island for another podium aboard the GP14, but crashed out with a half of lap remaining. The Brit, who joins LCR Honda in 2015, is 13th in points with 63.

A point behind Aleix is his brother Pol Espargaro on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha. Pol’s teammate Bradley Smith, who finished third at Phillip Island, is eighth in points, eight behind Pol. Rounding out the top 10 in points are Iannone with 102, and LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl with 96.

As for the sole American in all of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden is 15th overall with 44 points.

2014 Sepang MotoGP TV Schedule

Fox Sports 1 will provide live coverage of Sepang MotoGP on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2014. The coverage begins at 3 a.m. EST, with a replay of Phillip Island MotoGP. Sepang race action begins at 4 a.m.

2014 MotoGP Point Standings (after 16 of 18 rounds):

Pos. Rider Bike Nation Points
1 Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 312
2 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 255
3 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha SPA 247
4 Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 230
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 166
6 Aleix ESPARGARO Forward Yamaha SPA 117
7 Pol ESPARGARO Yamaha SPA 116
8 Bradley SMITH Yamaha GBR 108
9 Andrea IANNONE Ducati ITA 102
10 Stefan BRADL Honda GER 96
11 Alvaro BAUTISTA Honda SPA 89
12 Scott REDDING Honda GBR 69
13 Cal CRUTCHLOW Ducati GBR 63
14 Hiroshi AOYAMA Honda JPN 62
15 Nicky HAYDEN Honda USA 44
16 Yonny HERNANDEZ Ducati COL 44
17 Karel ABRAHAM Honda CZE 33
18 Hector BARBERA Ducati SPA 14
19 Alex DE ANGELIS Forward Yamaha RSM 14
20 Danilo PETRUCCI ART ITA 13
21 Colin EDWARDS Forward Yamaha USA 11
22 Michele PIRRO Ducati ITA 11
23 Broc PARKES PBM AUS 7
24 Mike DI MEGLIO Avintia FRA 6
25 Michael LAVERTY PBM GBR 5
26 Katsuyuki NAKASUGA Yamaha JPN 4
27 Leon CAMIER Honda GBR 1