2018 Malaysia MotoGP Results: Márquez Wins; A Bitter Pill For The Doctor
2018 MotoGP World Champion Marc Márquez returned to the top step of the podium at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit in front of a boisterous crowd of over 100,000 people. Márquez inherited the win on lap 17 (of 20) when leader Valentino Rossi lost his rear tire and crashed in turn 1. A charging Alex Rins took P2 on the final lap, passing a struggling Johann Zarco. Last week’s winner Maverick Viñales finished two seconds off the podium in P4.
1. Valentino Rossi grabbed a holeshot and was never shown a wheel until his lap 17 crash. Starting in the middle of the first row, Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) ran off to the front and slowly pulled away from polesitter Johann Zarco. After Márquez passed Zarco for P2 on lap 5, Rossi extended his lead to over one second by lap 10, with it peaking at 1.247 seconds on lap 12. One lap 13 Márquez started a charge, though Márquez was never able to get within a half-second of Rossi. However, Rossi’s soft rear tire was steadily wearing, and it finally gave way in the first corner of lap 17. Rossi remounted, finishing in P18, two seconds ahead of backmarker Scott Redding.
2. Marc Márquez overcame a third row start to take the victory. Although Márquez (Repsol Team Honda) had earned a pole in the rain on Saturday, he was penalized six grid positions for impeding Andrea Iannone in FP2. Known for his blistering starts when off the front row, Márquez moved into P4 by the end of the opening lap. A lap later, Márquez moved past a quickly fading Jack Miller before overtaking Zarco on lap 5. From there, Márquez settled in behind Rossi before mounting a charge on lap 13. Rossi’s crash allowed Márquez an easy pass for the lead and a comfortable win.
3. Joann Zarco returned to the podium for the first time since round 4 in Jerez. Starting from the pole, Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) kept Rossi honest early. After being passed, Zarco hung in behind Márquez until lap 11 when he fell over a second behind Márquez. Zarco looked lonely and safe in P3 with a three-second lead over Alex Rins after 12 laps. At that point, tire wear troubles slowed Zarco down while Rins sped up. Rins easily passed Zarco on the final lap for P2, as Zarco lacked the grip to defend himself or retaliate.
4. It was a big day for Alex Rins, as he moved from 10th to 5th in the standings thanks to a P2 finish. It was Rins’ fourth podium of the season, and second podium in three races. Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) did it the hard way, starting from eighth on the grid. Rins methodically worked his way through toward the front, putting in the fastest lap of the race on lap 5 when he completed the circuit in 2:00.762. Rins returned to the :00s on lap 18, as he pulled to within one second of Zarco in P2. With Márquez cruising and Zarco suffering, Rins rode the only :01 final lap to secure P2. Rins passed Zarco, Danilo Petrucci, and teammate Andrea Iannone, plus the injured Cal Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo to move into fifth in the standings, tied with Zarco on points at 149.
5. Phillip Island winner Maverick Viñales couldn’t overcome his 11th spot on the grid to make it to the podium. Like Rins, Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) worked his way steadily through the pack. Viñales’ final pass was of Dani Pedrosa on lap 14, in addition to motoring past downed teammate Rossi on lap 17. Viñales looked to be suffering from the same tire issues as fellow Yamaha riders Rossi and Zarco late in the race. Viñales had been coming along with Rins, and was less than one second behind Rins as late as lap 17. At that point, Rins turned it on and Viñales had nothing to offer. Viñales finished over two seconds behind Zarco.
6. Dani Pedrosa’s fifth-place finish tied his best—along with Le Mans and Aragon—for his swan song season. Until the middle of the race, Pedrosa (Repsol Team Honda) looked like a possible podium threat. Pedrosa was running in P4 for laps 6 through 11, though he never got within two seconds of P3 before being passed by Rins on lap 12. Pedrosa still holds the record for the fastest motorcycle lap at Sepang International Circuit with a 1:59.053 in qualifying in 2015. As late as last year, Pedrosa sat on the Sepang pole.
7. Ducati went 6-7-8-9. Although Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) were expected to have good pace, they were also-rans at the finish. Miller and Dovi ran 3-4 after the first lap, but that was the last time they were seen near the leaders. Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) finished in P7, behind Dovizioso and ahead of Miller, with Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) in P9. There were huge gaps between the four Ducatis at the finish.
8. Home country hero Hafi Syahrin finished in the top 10 after staring at the back of the grid. It was an emotional day for Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), as he was the first Malay to race in the MotoGP class at the Malaysian GP—he was in tears as the national anthem was sung. Starting 23rd on the grid, Syahrin had a miraculous first lap that took him to P11 at its conclusion. Syahrin briefly passed Petrucci when Petrucci made an error and went wide, though Petrucci quickly repassed Syahrin. Syahrin moved into P10 when Rossi crashed, and Syahrin finished over two seconds ahead of Aleix Espargaró. At the conclusion of the race, Syahrin was again moved to tears by his top 10 finish and the reaction of his countrymen.
9. It was an unlucky opening lap for Andrea Iannone. The Team Suzuki Ecstar rider started on the front row, but was shuffled back to P5 going into the final turn of the first lap. Losing the front end, Márquez had a near crash just a few feet ahead of Iannone. When Iannone got on the brakes to avoid what looked like would be a downed Honda RC213V, Iannone lost the front end and his race was over. Iannone had inherited a front row starting position when Márquez was penalized for impeding Iannone in a wet P2.
2018 Malaysia MotoGP Results, Sepang International Circuit
1. Marc Márquez, Honda; 40:32.372
2. Alex Rins, Suzuki; +1.898
3. Johann Zarco, Yamaha; +2.474
4. Maverick Viñales, Yamaha; +4.667
5. Dani Pedrosa, Honda; +6.190
6. Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati; +11.248
7. Alvaro Bautista, Ducati; +15.611
8. Jack Miller, Ducati; +19.009
9. Danilo Petrucci, Ducati; +22.921
10. Hafizh Syahrin, Yamaha; +26.919
11. Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia; +29.503
12. Franco Morbidelli, Honda; +30.933
13. Stefan Bradl, Honda; +30.933
14. Takaaki Nakagami, Honda; +37.912
15. Bradley Smith, KTM; +39.675
16. Thomas Luthi, Honda; +41.820
17. Xavier Simeon, Ducati; +43.978
18. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha; +58.288
19. Scott Redding, Aprilia; +36.348
Pol Espargaró, KTM; 4 laps
Michele Pirro, Laps; 15 laps
Karel Abraham, Ducati; 17 laps
Andrea Iannone, Suzuki; 0 laps completed
2018 MotoGP World Championship Standings (after 18 of 19 rounds)
1. Marc Márquez, 321 points (9 wins)*
2. Andrea Dovizioso, 220 (3 wins)
3. Valentino Rossi, 195
4. Maverick Viñales, 193
5. Alex Rins, 149
6. Johann Zarco, 149
7. Cal Crutchlow, 148 (1 win)
8. Danilo Petrucci, 144
9. Andrea Iannone, 133
10. Jorge Lorenzo, 130 (3 wins)
11. Dani Pedrosa, 106
12. Alvaro Bautista, 105
13. Jack Miller, 91
14. Franco Morbidelli, 50
15. Aleix Espargaró, 44
16. Hafizh Syahrin, 40
17. Tito Rabat, 35
18. Pol Espargaró, 35
19. Bradley Smith, 30
20. Takaaki Nakagami, 23
21. Scott Redding, 15
22. Karel Abraham, 10
23. Mika Kallio, 6
24. Stefan Bradl, 3
25. Katsuyuki Nakasuga, 2
26. Xavier Simeon, 1
27. Michele Pirro, 1
* Clinched title