Bautista’s Title Challenge Ends In Sepang Gravel
Well, that’s basically it for this year. Alvaro’s title hopes ended this morning in the Sepang gravel, and even though he’ll surely be longing to deliver a win at Valencia to his fans it’s going to be little comfort in a season that had promised so much.
Whilst many of us always believed the initial “cert” status he seemed to be given for the title was unrealistic, we couldn’t have predicted the way it would desrt him in the latter half of the season where mechanical failures, poor luck and – let’s be honest – unnecessary erros – combined to decimate his challenge.
It’s a shame as it would have been good to see him take a 250 title – and indeed, the last 250 title – before moving up to MotoGP and what must surely be another challenging season.
But it wasn’t to be.
At 13:15 local time the lunchtime 250cc race took centre stage in Malaysia. The penultimate round of the series saw a surprise leader in the early stages, as Jules Cluzel took charge from the start. The favourites for victory were soon back in the picture, however, as the race pace upped rapidly under the sweltering heat. Hiroshi Aoyama clocked a new circuit record of 2’07.597, before tyres started to wear away and falls became a regular occurrence. That favoured a break for the top three, with Aoyama eventually taking victory. He holds the advantage in the overall standings, as the class becomes the only one of the three not to have a victor already decided.
Mapfre riders Mike di Meglio and Álvaro Bautista had a productive weekend that turned sour come Sunday. Once again the two were the victims of a certain amount of misfortune, and both hit the asphalt in race-ending crashes that ruined the hard work put in over the previous two days.
Alvaro made another bad start and worked hard at making a comeback through the field to try and take the lead. One lap after Di Meglio’s fall, it was Bautista who lost the front end on turn nine, ending his race and any chance of a title push.
Álvaro Bautista (DNF):
“Things were going more or less fine, and I had hooked up to the lead group after making up some places. I felt comfortable riding and wasn’t going at full gas, saving a little for the final push. This track is very demanding, and I wanted to be able to seize my opportunity and take the lead when it came around. My goal was to stay in the pack until then. I hit the bakes before going into turn nine, and I crossed the bars and was unable to avoid the crash. It is a pity, because in three races our chance of the title has gone up in smoke, as we gave our all but had some horrible luck. In Valencia I will try to enjoy the last race at home, and look to give the fans a good result to finish off the year.”
Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1. Hiroshi Aoyama Honda 42m55.689s
2. Hector Barbera Aprilia + 6.397s
3. Marco Simoncelli Gilera + 6.397s
4. Thomas Luthi Aprilia + 14.871s
5. Hector Faubel Honda + 19.177s
6. Ratthapark Wilairot Honda + 19.567s
7. Alex Debon Aprilia + 20.255s
8. Lukas Pesek Aprilia + 34.561s
9. Alex Baldolini Aprilia + 50.937s
10. Shuhei Aoyama Honda + 1m04.186s
11. Balazs Nemeth Aprilia + 1m08.917s
12. Karel Abraham Aprilia + 1m10.616s
13. Valentin Debise Honda + 1m17.945s
14. Bastien Chesaux Aprilia + 1m29.669s
15. Vladimir Leonov Aprilia + 1m43.536s
16. Shoya Tomizawa Honda + 1 lap