After qualifying in second place for the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) went on to win the penultimate round of the 2019 MotoGPTM World Championship. He was joined on the Sepang podium by Marc Márquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). The day’s top three featured three different bikemakers and three different Michelin tyre pairings.
Racing onmedium MICHELIN Power Slicks front and rear, Viñales completed the first of the Malaysian GP’s 20 laps in front, chased by Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), Márquez, Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who was first out of Turn 1 after starting from third on the grid. Márquez, meanwhile, had leapt from 11
Viñales posted a series of quick, consistent laps to pull gradually clear and ultimately cross the line more than three seconds clear of the 2019 champion. It was the factory Yamaha rider’s second success of the season after Assen (Netherlands) and his seventh at MotoGP
It was on Lap 3 that Márquez (medium/soft tyres front and rear) eased past Miller to take second spot and he held that position all the way to the flag to become the first rider to secure 17 MotoGP
Dovizioso (softs front and rear) shrugged off pressure from Rossi (mediums front and rear) to clinch third place.
Fifth was Alex Rins (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR), ahead of Franco Morbidelli and his Petronas Yamaha SRT team-mate Fabio Quartararo who posted a new track lap record to win qualifying after dominating free practice.
Miller, Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Joan Mir (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) rounded out the afternoon’s top 10.
Michelin’s tyres contributed to several new records at Sepang. Free Practice 1 saw Quartararo beat Pedrosa’s effort of 2015 (1m59.053s) to establish a new track lap record (1m59.027s) which he bettered in FP2 (1m58.576s) and then again in qualifying (1m58.303s).
Five other riders succeeded in squeezing beneath the previous benchmark in qualifying.
The fastest race lap was the work of Rossi (1m59.661s) who went a second faster than Lorenzo in 2015. Last but not least, Viñales completed the distance in a time of 40m14.634s, an improvement of 18 seconds over the previous record clocked last year by Márquez.
Four of the six Michelin tyre specs available in Malaysia were selected for the race, with only the front and rear hards not making it onto the grid, despite having been tried in practice.
While Márquez and Dovizioso had made sure of the season’s gold and silver medals before the trip to Sepang, the fight for bronze is still on. Viñales (201 points) is now third in the provisional standings, tailed by Rins (194) and Petrucci (176). The 2019 championship’s final podium order will therefore be settled at the last round in Valencia, Spain, in two weeks’ time.
Everyone at Michelin Motorsport would like to share their condolences with the family, friends and fellow team members of Afridza Munandar who died tragically in the opening Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup race on Saturday.
Next round: Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, Valencia, Spain (November 14-17)