Oct 7, 2010
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This weekend's Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix could see Jorge Lorenzo crowned as the 2010 FIM MotoGP World Champion. The Fiat Yamaha rider currently has a 69-point advantage over Dani Pedrosa in the championship standings and only needs to finish ninth on Sunday to lift the title now that Pedrosa has been confirmed as not racing this weekend.
Lorenzo has a solid track record at Sepang, clinching his second 250cc title here in 2007 and storming to a fourth place finish last year after starting from the back of the grid.
"This could be a very special weekend for me, the team and my family," said Lorenzo. "I'm very excited, but I know I also need to concentrate and work hard. I just want to start the race with confidence and speed, not think too much about the points or the championship and enjoy what could be the most important race of my career."
While Lorenzo was keen to focus on the championship during today's pre-event press conference, the assembled journalists were more interested in talking about his wheel-to-wheel battle with Valentino Rossi for the final podium position at Motegi just four days ago. Lorenzo, however, refused to be drawn on the battle, or the war of words that followed.
When questioned about the events at Motegi Lorenzo responded, "We're here for a big thing this weekend, it doesn't matter what happened in the past only that it doesn't happen again now or in the future."
While Lorenzo has been both vocal and critical about Rossi's riding in Motegi, the reigning World Champion is adamant that it was simply a good battle between two rivals at the top of their game.
"The battle with Jorge at Motegi was great and very funny," declared Rossi. "I love always the battle and it looked good on television and even better from the bike. It was very aggressive and nothing more."
Rossi lifted the World Championship here last year with a podium finish and, of all the current MotoGP riders, has the most impressive record at the Sepang circuit. However, the reigning World Champion is making no promises for this weekend's race in Malaysia, where the shoulder he injured in a motocross crash earlier in the season could still cause problems.
"This is one of my favourite tracks. Every time I ride this track I love it and it's very exciting. I have great memories of races and championships here. I'm curious to see how much pain I will have with the shoulder here at Sepang, as it's a difficult track."
When asked about the rumours that he'll end his season early to undergo surgery on his damaged shoulder, Rossi answered, "It's 99 percent certain that I will go to Australia and, if I don't have any more pain from the shoulder, I will finish the season."
After a difficult start to the year Casey Stoner got his season back on track with back-to-back victories at Aragon and Motegi. The Ducati rider took victory at Sepang last year and could still finish second in the championship with a strong run of results to close out the season.
Stoner is the only rider to win in all three Grand Prix classes at Sepang and the Australian would be quite happy with another win this weekend, to add to his premier class victories in 2007 and 2009.
"We came here with more confidence after Motegi," declared the Australian. "We started well in Japan but then had a bit of a downturn followed by an upturn. It was an important race win for us. We haven't had the best of seasons and I haven't really been able to give Jorge or Dani a run for their money, but we'll keep working and see how it goes this weekend."
Andrea Dovizioso made a return to the podium in Japan and the Repsol Honda rider, who started from pole at Motegi for the first time in his MotoGP career, is another rider with an impressive track record at the Sepang circuit. The Italian clinched the 125cc World Championship with second place here in 2004 and then secured his first ever MotoGP podium with third place in 2008.
After impressing last time out in Japan, the sole representative of the Repsol Honda team is keen to fight it out at the front of the race once again this weekend in Malaysia.
"We made a really good weekend in Japan; the best this year," said Dovizioso. "We arrive here with more confidence and our bike always goes well at this circuit. It will be an interesting weekend and there's a good chance we can battle for the podium and maybe even the race win I hope."
Currently ninth in the championship standings, Marco Simoncelli equalled his best result of the season so far with a sixth place finish in Japan. The Italian is confident that the consistency he showed during the race at Motegi last weekend will stand him in good stead here at Sepang.
"Motegi was a great weekend," stated Simoncelli. "I had the pace all through practice, qualifying and warm-up and in the race I was consistent, whereas in the past my performance has dropped off towards the end. Now we are not far behind the leaders, but we need to work hard to catch them. I hope that I can improve my results between now and the end of the season, starting this weekend in Sepang."
Earlier in the day Marco Melandri got his weekend off to a winning start by taking victory in the annual Sepang kart racing challenge. The San Carlo Gresini rider got the better of Mika Kallio in the closing stages to take the win, with Dominique Aegerter flying the flag for the Moto2 riders by finishing in third place.
Despite snapping his chain during the qualifying race, Danny Webb took fourth place ahead of Bradley Smith in fifth. Jules Cluzel and Jasper Iwema finished sixth and seventh respectively, despite a big coming together on the final lap. Danny Kent, Kenny Noyes and Alberto Moncayo rounded out the top ten.
Valentino Rossi withdrew from the event with a sore shoulder, while his personal assistant Uccio failed to qualify after one of the wheels fell of his kart.
More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing Team:
GREAT SECOND POSITION FOR MIKA KALLIO IN THE RIDERS KART RACING
Thursday before the weekend of each Grand Prix is usually dedicated to collateral activities that don't have many think to do with speed. But this is not the case of Sepang's Grand Prix where some riders were asked to compete on a track near the circuit but this time they were not riding a bike but driving a kart. The race was attended among others by Marco Melandri, Valentino Rossi, Pol Espargar brother of the Pramac Racing Team rider Aleix and Dominique Aegerter Moto2 rider. The race have saw as leading of the Pramac Racing Team rider Mika Kallio who have finished the race in the second position with a gap of one second from Melandri. There were two qualifying session with twelve riders each, the 10 best lap times riders where then allowed to participate to the final race. Mika started the race from the third position and had fight with Melandri and Aegerter from the beginning to the end. After he had conquer the second position he was then demoted to the third place after a collision with Marco Melandri. In the second last corner he was able to traced a trajectory that has left Dominique no possibility to overtake him again, concluding on the finish straight in the second position just one second behind the winner. It is very important to say that Mika was able to set the fastest lap of the day, stopping the clock in 51,740, while the second best time was clocked by Melandri in 52,080 with a delay of about 3 / 10 from the white-green Finnish rider. Starting from tomorrow think we'll become serious with the first free practice of the twentieth Malaysian's MotoGP Grand Prix.
More, from a press release issued by Rizla Suzuki:
Rizla Suzuki aiming to join in the Malaysian Grand Prix celebrations
Rizla Suzuki has travelled to Sepang in Malaysia for the second leg of the Pacific Ocean triple tour with both riders in a confident mood.
Ãlvaro Bautista heads to Sepang following a strong performance last weekend in Japan. His seventh position there came after three successive eighth place finishes in the previous races and he is determined to keep that improvement going, on a track that he knows well and likes a lot. Sepang is one of the only circuits on the MotoGP calendar that Bautista will visit for a race weekend with previous knowledge of riding at on a MotoGP bike following tests there earlier in the year he hopes that information, allied with the improving Suzuki GSV-R, will serve him well at a circuit where he has tasted victory in both the 125cc and 250cc classes.
Loris Capirossi is in a determined mood after last week's events, as he returns to a circuit that he has also won at. Capirossi looked like making an attack for a top five position at Motegi, but an electrical problem robbed him of that opportunity. He is looking forward to the race at a circuit he classes as one of his favourites of the season. Capirossi is the only rider in the field to have raced at every Malaysian Grand Prix and also the only rider to win the event in each class, taking victory in the 125cc category in 1991, winning the 250cc race in 1999 and topping the podium in MotoGP in 2005.
The Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix is celebrating its 20th year this weekend at the Sepang International Circuit a venue that has staged the event since 1999. The first Malaysian GP was at Shah Alam in 1991, before it moved to the Johor circuit in 1998. The current home is one of the most modern on the MotoGP calendar, the 5,548m circuit has 15 corners which are interlinked by two long straights and overlooked by some of the most amazing spectator grandstands to be found anywhere in a sporting arena.
Rizla Suzuki takes to the track on Friday - for the first of two free practice sessions - the second being held on the following morning. Qualifying for the 20-lap race will take place on Saturday afternoon, with the main event getting underway at 16.00hrs local time (08.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 10th October.
"I am really looking forward to this weekend because this is one of my favourite tracks and one of the only ones that I will ride at this year with some reference points for a MotoGP bike. That will help me from the start and make sure that I can work on setting the bike up immediately. I like this track a lot and I have good memories about the place, I still hold the 125cc lap record, so I know how to go around here quickly I now need to do that on a MotoGP bike. I am sure we can get a good result here in Sepang and be up in that top six where we should be."
"We showed last week that we have the pace to run closer to the front and it was a very good weekend for us except for the very end. I am sure we can repeat, or even better that performance here this weekend. I love the Sepang circuit and really enjoy racing there, so hopefully we can get on with everything right from the start and be able to show what we can do."