Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang: Michelin MotoGP race review
Michelin saw its range of wet tyres used to great effect today as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) raced to victory during a rain affected Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang in Malaysia and in the process become the ninth MotoGP™ race winner this season.
Starting from pole position, Dovizioso saw that advantage quickly disappear as Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) led the pack into the first corner.
By the time the riders had completed the first lap of the rain-soaked 5,543m Sepang International Circuit, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) had taken the lead, with rest of the field close behind. In the treacherous conditions – which were caused by a torrential downpour as the bikes lined up on the grid and resulted in a delayed start and a reduction of the race distance to 19-laps – most riders chose the medium MICHELIN Power Rain tyres front and rear.
As the competitors found the optimum grip through the standing water in the early laps, the lead changed hands many times with – considering the conditions – some impressive overtaking manoeuvres. Dovizioso was sitting in third place and on lap-12 overtook team-mate Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) to take second. The Italian then chased down Rossi and seized his opportunity on lap-15 to take the lead and push clear at the front.
Dovizioso never looked back and pulled away to take victory by over three-seconds, with Rossi following him home in the runner-up position. Dovizioso’s second MotoGP victory of his career also makes him the record-breaking ninth different premier class winner in one season.
The final podium place went to Lorenzo as he regained some of his wet weather riding confidence to score a rostrum position. Fourth and the honour of the First Independent Team Rider went to Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) following a great battle with his Ducati team-mate Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) who took fifth. Maverick Viñales (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) was sixth, just ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) in seventh, with Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) eighth. Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) finished in ninth and Danilo Petrucci (OCTO Pramac Yakhnich) rounded out the top-ten.
A huge crowd of 95,316 – a record for Sepang – braved the awful conditions and were treated to some very impressive racing throughout the day. The fans at trackside also witnessed Frenchman Johann Zarco sealing the Moto2™ title, which was an impressive way to sign-off his intermediate career before moving to MotoGP in 2017.
Michelin and the rest of the paddock now travel back to Europe for the 18th and final race of this record-breaking year, as Valencia holds stage for the season finale on Sunday 13th November.
Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team:
“I am so happy with the result, because I had a bit of a vibration from the right side at the start, but this didn’t become worse during the race so I was able to keep a good feeling. I am very happy about the consistency of the Michelins, there was a lot of grip from the new asphalt and a lot of water, but with the harder tyre the grip was really good and I was able to keep the same lap-time from the beginning to the end, this is normally very difficult. We didn’t really ride a lot in the dry, but what we did was quite good. The harder option on the front we didn’t try, because the medium was the best one and on the rear the soft was really good, in a dry race I think the tyres would have been really good”
Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme:
“This has been yet another weekend when the weather has played a big part in the whole event. We never had a single session over the three-days where the track was completely dry, so we didn’t get to see the full potential of the slick tyres we brought here. With the damp patches the riders were quite cautious, but they did report they had very good feeling from both the front and rear and the wear levels looked good. We hoped for a dry race, but that was certainly not the case as the clouds opened and made the track very dangerous, so it was a good idea to delay the start. Throughout the race we saw many impressive overtaking manoeuvres and it was an extremely positive thing that the riders had so much trust to push so hard. The rain tyres worked very well in these conditions and we were very pleased with the consistency through the whole race. I want to congratulate Andrea Dovizioso on his victory, it has been incredible to have nine winners in a season and something that we are delighted to be a part of. We now move on to Valencia and the final round, but it also the beginning of a new season as well because there is an important test the week after, so we will be preparing some new tyres for the riders to try.”