Marc Marquez’s rivals have a mountain to climb at the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang this weekend to chase down the Repsol Honda Team rider’s 39-point lead in the MotoGP™ World Championship with only four races to go.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo is Marquez’s closest challenger and will be giving his all to try and haul back points on the Honda rookie, who last time out in Aragón made the headlines for not only his latest win. His contact with teammate Dani Pedrosa, which led to the rear wheel sensor of the latter failing – resulting in a big highside – will be discussed by Race Direction this Thursday.
Pedrosa, who now sits 59 points behind Marquez, is well aware that his title chances rely on him winning the remaining races whilst needing some worse results from his opponents. This is perhaps where Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi could come in, as the Italian is desperate for another win and showed true glimpses of such pace in Aragón practice and qualifying. He will aim to take the next step to challenge the top three.
Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow will hope that his lack of top speed from his new engine is solved before the race on the fast Malaysian circuit, whilst rookie teammate Bradley Smith is pleased to not have to learn a new track on a MotoGP™ bike, as he has spent a good amount of time testing at Sepang like the others on the grid. The satellite Hondas in the form of GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl had a great battle at MotorLand, which is something they will no doubt want to repeat – albeit with a podium finish.
For the Ducati Team it will once again be a weekend of trying to get the bike closer to the Japanese manufacturers, as Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden battle it out for best teammate honours. The satellite Pramac Racing outfit will be hoping for a positive weekend as in north-eastern Spain, where Ben Spies’ replacement due to injury, Yonny Hernandez, continued to get to grips with the Ignite Pramac machine. Alongside Andrea Iannone on the Energy T.I. bike, Hernandez hopes that his riding style can reap good results on the Desmosedici.
Among the CRT ranks, it is confirmed that Italian Luca Scassa will be in for Karel Abraham at Cardion AB Motoracing until the end of the season, while Australian Damian Cudlin will continue to stand in for Hernandez at PBM. Both made great progress in Aragón and will hope to get their bikes as close as possible to CRT front-runner Aleix Espargaro on his Power Electronics Aspar ART.
Starting at Sepang, a maximum of 100 points remain on offer in the 2013 season.