News Report 19 October 2008

2008 MotoGP Malaysia - Sepang

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5543 m
10 / 19 / 2008
Time to be confirmed

Rossi survives Sepang furnace to take ninth win of the season


2008 World Champion Valentino Rossi rode an inch-perfect race in energy-sapping conditions at Sepang today to take his ninth win of the season and his 150th career podium. He is only the second rider in the history of the sport to pass this milestone, the other being Giacomo Agostini, whose all-time win record Rossi has already broken this season. Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo meanwhile had a disappointing day, with his challenge ending in the gravel trap on lap 12.

With temperatures in excess of 40 degrees as the riders lined up on the grid, today’s race was clearly going to be a test of endurance, both for riders and tyres. Rossi, starting from second, crossed the line for the first time in third but was able to pass Andrea Dovizioso on the next lap, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process, and set off on the heels of Dani Pedrosa. The pair gradually began to open out clear air from the chasing pack but the gap between them remained at just a few tenths of a second for next eight laps. Rossi eventually made his move at mid-race distance, was able to pass Pedrosa on the brakes into the hairpin at turn nine and was then unchallenged to the chequered flag, crossing the line 4.008 seconds ahead of the Spaniard with Dovizioso in third.

The paddock now heads straight to Valencia in Spain for the 18th and final round of the season, with Rossi looking to avenge two bad years at the track and Lorenzo determined to secure the title of Leading Rookie with a positive performance to make up for today’s disappointment.

Valentino Rossi - Position: 1st Time: 43'06.007
“I am so happy with this win today because all of the toughest championship of my career, including with Yamaha in 2004, have been won with nine victories. Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t want to win again next week, but for now I like this number! Today was incredibly hard because it was so hot. Once I got behind Dani I tried to pass many times but he was very fast and very consistent and I had a good battle to get by him. Lap-by-lap I understood better where it was possible and eventually I could make my move and go away from him. Everything worked very well today in such conditions, my M1 and my Bridgestone tyres and I want to thank everyone for making me so fast all weekend. I love winning here because it’s such a great track but today was really a test, especially the last five laps when I really had to make an effort to keep my concentration in such incredible heat. Anyway, it was important to win here because when we came here in the winter I did a very fast race simulation and I promised my new Bridgestone tyre technician, Peter, that we would win the race! I took a gamble in February so I had to win today! Finally I want to congratulate my friend Marco Simoncelli for winning the 250cc World Championship today. I know how hard he has worked to get here and he really deserves it – I am very happy for him.”

Davide Brivio - Team manager
“Nine wins sounds good! Now that we’ve won the world championship it’s great to race for fun and to think only of winning and today was just like that. Valentino rode a perfect race; he started well, followed Dani for some time then passed him and escaped and he did a good job to keep his concentration and rhythm in such hot conditions. This has been another great day in a fantastic season for us and now we’re looking forward to one more in Valencia.”

Disappointing day for Lorenzo as he slides out of Malaysian GP

Jorge Lorenzo’s high hopes for a podium in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang today ended in the gravel trap on lap 12, when the Fiat Yamaha rookie slid out of sixth position. His team-mate and 2008 world champion Valentino Rossi meanwhile led from the middle of the race to take his ninth win of the season.

After being fast all weekend and qualifying on the front row for the fifth race in succession, Lorenzo was determined to make a return to the podium after just missing out at the last two rounds. He got a poor start however, which left him in seventh, and he lacked the grip he’d had all weekend which meant he was unable to replicate the fast race pace he had shown in the practice sessions. By mid-race distance the Michelin-shod rider had begun to improve his rhythm somewhat and he was able to pass Shinya Nakano to move into sixth, but at turn one on lap 12 he lost the front and slid out.

Lorenzo remains fourth in the championship and still leads the Rookie of the Year standings with one round remaining. The final race of the season takes place in Valencia, Spain in just one week’s time.
Jorge Lorenzo - Position: DNF
“I didn’t feel good today and I was riding much worse than yesterday. I was having some problems in braking and acceleration and this is really a pity because I thought I had the chance to be on the podium today. I had many problems with my tyres in the first few laps and in fact I had a lot of warnings about the crash, but in the end I just couldn’t avoid it. I got a bad start and it seems this part of the race is getting more difficult every time. If I had a better start I could have tried to go with Valentino and Pedrosa but today was terrible. We have to change something here because at the moment it’s quite difficult. Apart from these problems I know I didn’t have the same feeling in myself as I had yesterday, so it really wasn’t a good day! It’s a little sad now that we can only be fourth in the championship, but I can still be rookie of the year so I will focus on this because it’s important for all of my team. Congratulations to Valentino for another triumph and now let’s look onwards to Valencia.”

Daniele Romagnoli - Team Manager
“We’re quite disappointed with this result because we thought we had a good chance to be on the podium today. Unfortunately Jorge lacked grip compared to yesterday, especially in the front, and he wasn’t able to ride in the same rhythm. He didn’t get a good start and then lost a lot of places at turn one, so this also didn’t help. He had finally begun to improve his pace and start to catch up when he crashed at turn one, so this was a great pity. Luckily he’s not hurt however and now we’re just focusing on Valencia and finishing the season on a high.”

Edwards claims top ten, Toseland crashes in scorching Sepang
Colin Edwards rode his Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 machine to his best ever Malaysian MotoGP result today, the American finishing a scorching hot 21-lap encounter in eighth position.

With air temperatures nudging an energy sapping 40 degrees, Edwards lost four places in a frantic jostle for positions at the first corner, but quickly found the pace that saw him top the timesheets on the opening day of free practice.

The 33-year-old immediately dropped his lap times into the 2.02 bracket and seized eighth place from Loris Capirossi with a clinical move at the second corner on lap four. That move left Edwards glued to the back wheel of fellow Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo as an exciting six-rider dice from third to eighth unfolded in front of 38,500 fans. Edwards was promoted to seventh when Lorenzo was unlucky to tumble out on lap 11 at the first corner, but he slipped back down to eighth on lap 15 when Capirossi pounced. With track temperatures hitting 42 degrees, Edwards began to encounter small grip issues and was unable to mount a counter attack. He kept a consistent pace in the extreme heat for the final few laps, but despite a determined ride, he couldn't close back in on the group in front.

James Toseland was unable to capitalise on significant steps he made with the set-up of his Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 in this morning’s warm-up session. He improved front-end braking stability, but the 28-year-old slipped down to 16th after a hectic opening two laps while he tried to get the better of Anthony West and Randy de Puniet. Pushing hard to move back into the points, Toseland crashed out when he lost the front-end at turn six on lap three. He emerged unscathed from the spill, and will be looking to end his rookie season in style in next weekend’s final round in Valencia.

There is still plenty to fight for the Tech 3 Yamaha team in Spain next Sunday, with Edwards still pursuing a top six World Championship finish, and Toseland a top ten overall placing. Tech 3 Yamaha is also still firmly in the hunt for fourth place in the Team World Championship.
Colin Edwards - Position: 8th Time: +0'18.802
“I thought I’d got a good start and I must have done because I nearly tangled with Jorge off the line and he was on the front row. It was pretty close but luckily we didn’t touch. But at the first corner people started coming around me and there was a bit of bumping and barging and I lost a couple more places. Nakano and Capirossi came by but in the first eight laps I felt pretty good and I got into the high 2.02s. I was right on the back of the bunch but I felt like I was losing a bit on acceleration. As much as I’d close up on the brakes, I’d lose coming onto the back straight and the front straight. It was so hot and the track temperature was so high that the balance of the bike changed around the halfway point. Once the rear grip goes down a bit, it stops transferring weight on the front. When Jorge crashed I almost went down in the exact same circumstances going into the first corner because the rear tyre wasn't holding as well as it did at the start of the race and it wasn't driving the front tyre into the track. And when that happens it is hard to turn the bike. That was my issue and after that it was difficult. I kept my head down and tried to push because I could still see the group in front. But I couldn’t get any pace going coming out of the corners and I made a couple of little mistakes. I’m really disappointed even though it is my best result ever at this race. But eighth is well below where I want to be. I leave here knowing I did the best I could do and I hope I can give the team and Yamaha a strong finish in Valencia next week before we starting looking to 2009.”
James Toseland - Position: DNF
“Things never clicked from the start of the weekend, although this morning we found a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. But getting it nearly right on Sunday morning means you don’t have time to get a proper feeling with the setting and we made a big change with the front. We raised the front and got it to steer better because that was the main issue we had. It was causing me a problem on the brakes and entry and that was messing me up for the rest of the corner. I could brake better and it made the bike more balanced for the entry and exit. Qualifying 12th though makes it tough, especially here and I got boxed in a bit at the first corner. I braked after everybody else and made a couple of places up but ran wide and then it was a real dogfight. I was having a close battle with de Puniet and West but then when I picked up my pace I went down. I had to run a harder front tyre to make the race distance and I think it just needed another lap to get the temperature in it. I just pushed it too hard and lost the front at turn six. I paid for pushing too hard trying to make up the time I’d lost. I was confident after this morning when I was eighth and we'd make progress with the bike, so it is a bit disappointing. But I’ll be going all out to make amends in Valencia and finish on a high."

Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
“Honestly it is a bit of a disappointing outcome because we started the weekend very well. Colin was very competitive on race tyres from Friday and he performed very well in qualifying to get on the second row. We were pretty confident that he could make a good challenge in a dry race and possibly fight for the top five. Colin didn’t get a great start but he always looked in contention behind the group. He rode hard but he just couldn’t get close enough to mount an attack. With James we also thought we might have got both of them in the top ten, because James was confident after the warm-up this morning that the changes he made with his crew were a big step in the right direction. Unfortunately it didn’t happen for him. James didn’t get the start he wanted and he was pushing hard and crashed. But if you don’t try then you only follow everybody, so while it was a disappointing for him, at least he was fighting. It has been a difficult race but will try and finish the season in Valencia on a high note. Fourth in the Team World Championship is still a possibility and everyone at Tech 3 will be giving their maximum effort as always next weekend.”