There is no rest for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team. After a thrilling race on Phillip Island – where riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales fought a hard battle for second and third place respectively, they head directly to Malaysia for their third-consecutive fly-away race, at the Sepang International Circuit.
Viñales is eager to claim his first premier class MotoGP victory in Malaysia. In previous years he climbed onto the podium on two occasions, claiming a 125cc win in 2011 and first place in the Moto2 race in 2014. Last year he secured sixth place, his best premier class placement in Sepang, which he is determined to improve on this year.
The Spaniard currently holds third in the championship rankings and is mathematically unable to secure the Rider Title, with a 50-point gap to first place and two races to spare. Instead he will be pushing to claim second place in the standings by bridging the 17-point gap to the rider ahead of him in the rankings.
Teammate Rossi also rode a strong race in Australia and clawed back crucial championship points to climb back up to fourth place in the overall classification, 31 points behind his teammate. This weekend the Italian hopes to be an even bigger threat at the front of the rider field in Sepang.
The Doctor aims to put his experience at the Malaysian track to good use again this weekend. So far, he stood on the Sepang podium 12 times in his career and he will give his all to repeat his previous successes. He secured a 500cc class race victory here in 2001 and claimed MotoGP victories in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Additionally, he also visited the rostrum in 2002, 2005, 2014 and 2016 when he scored second place, and in 2009 and 2015 when he took third.
The Sepang International Circuit was built in just 14 months and held its first Grand Prix in 1999. The track is known to host some of the most exciting races thanks to its combination slow and medium to high-speed corners (five left, ten right), and two long straights (the longest measuring 920 m). However, it’s not just the circuit’s lay-out that provides challenges when it comes to setting up the bikes. The laps are relatively long, thanks to the circuit’s total length of 5.5 km. Add to this extremely hot and humid conditions, and you’ve got one of the most testing rounds on the MotoGP calendar.
Championship: 3rd – Points: 219
“After the podium in Australia we are very motivated to go to Malaysia, it’s a circuit with very different climate conditions to those we’ve had on Phillip Island and in Japan – it’s always very hot and that makes it a very physically demanding race. The bike is working very good now, so it’s a little bit disappointing to arrive in Sepang without the mathematical possibility to win the title, but now securing second place in the standings is our target. We have to try to be as strong as we were at the beginning of the season and be on the podium again in Sepang. We will work hard to achieve it.”
Championship: 4th – Points: 188
“We need to stay modest after the race in Australia. We have worked well and we have taken another step forward, I’m happy about this, but we still have a lot to do. Going straight to Malaysia is important. I don’t expect anything, but we will work hard to make it another nice race. It’s a track that I like a lot and I hope for good weather, so we’ll be able to work in the best way possible. I’m physically okay, in the next few days I’ll rest and next Friday I’ll be ready for another weekend.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“Sunday at Phillip Island was a very good day for us. Not only did both our riders finish on the podium, but we also managed to book some progress with the bike. This weekend we hope to keep building on this at the Malaysian GP, especially with regard to the future. The round in Sepang is always the end of the triple-header and therefore all the more challenging. The riders and team members arrive here after two weeks of non-stop work and will have to cope with the humidity and hot temperatures that are physically demanding. Nevertheless, the whole team will again put in the maximum effort to get top results. Our riders are in great shape and highly motivated after Sunday’s podium, so we are looking forward to meet the Malaysian fans and start work on Friday.”
Highflying Zarco Ready to fight for Success in Sepang heat – Van der Mark to Link Up with Tech3 for Malaysian GP
After a truly memorable performance in Australia, Johann Zarco aims to challenge for a podium finish in Malaysia to strengthen his attempt to complete the year as the Top Independent rider in the World Championship. Meanwhile, the WorldSBK front-runner Michael van der Mark will replace the recovering Jonas Folger at the round 17 event. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 would like to warmly welcome the promising young Dutch rider, who will be making his MotoGP debut. The action begins this Friday at 09:55, or 03:55 in central Europe.
Championship: 6th – Points: 138
“Sepang is a nice track, and I believe my experience after almost a full season, will be useful having tested there at the beginning of the year. The Australian GP was amazing and I am so happy about the feeling that I had on the bike in the race. Therefore, I hope to fight for the podium or even the victory again with the tops guys this weekend. The weather will be difficult as it is always so hot in Malaysia. This is why I need to prepare and manage myself well with the team and save my energy so that I can be strong in the GP. I will take it easy but I aim to battle for the podium once more.”
Michael van der Mark
“It goes without saying that I am really excited. I came quite close to getting the opportunity to ride a MotoGP bike a few weeks ago, but it didn’t work out. Then Hervé called, and although I will have a busy schedule, I could not say no to this chance. I am very happy and I look forward to this adventure. Luckily, I know Sepang, but the MotoGP riders have done a lot of tests there this year, so everyone will be fast. However, I just want to enjoy this weekend, to improve myself and see how it is to ride the YZR-M1. At the moment we have some good momentum in World Superbikes so I think it is the perfect time to jump on the Yamaha. I look forward to riding the bike and I want to thank Hervé and Yamaha for this opportunity.”
Monster Yamaha Tech3 – Team Manager
“After the crazy Phillip Island weekend, it’s good to know that we have a day and a half to recover because everyone is drained and we have no more energy! The team and I are looking forward to Sepang as you can imagine, after the unbelievable race that Johann had in Australia. He missed the podium by 0.016, which is something that was impressive but slightly disappointing. Sepang is a track that he likes a lot and it is where he won his second Moto2 title last year. We had some really encouraging tests there in the winter and we intend to carry on the momentum from the last round. I hope Johann can fight for the top five in qualifying as well as in the race and this will be important. One good thing, as we announced in Australia, is that he is now the MotoGP Rookie of the Year, which was his main mission for the 2017 season. The second objective now that we have to do, if possible, is to win the Top Independent rider position in the championship, but we realise that Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci will give us a hard time. We will work towards this. On the other side of the garage, once again we have a new rider that we are very proud and happy to announce. Michael van der Mark will replace Jonas for this race and he is a young and extremely talented rider from the Netherlands. Michael is part of the factory Yamaha WorldSBK team and he almost replaced Valentino at the Aragon GP, but it didn’t happen for obvious reasons! Now he has a chance with us to see what the YZR-M1 is like and to show what he can do. He will have a strong teammate and an experienced crew so I am sure that he can make the best out of it. I hope that he will gain a sweet memory from his time with us by getting a good result on Sunday. Sepang is a track that he knows, having ridden there in the WorldSBK league, so we want to welcome him to Monster Yamaha Tech3 and let’s see what happens.”
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