Marquez Fourth As Honda Takes 2017 MotoGP Constructors Crown
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) took a safe fourth-place finish in the rain-soaked Malaysian Grand Prix. The result gives him a 21-point World Championship lead over title rival and Sepang winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) as the thrilling battle for the 2017 MotoGP crown goes to the final round at Valencia, Spain, next month. Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) started from pole position and finished the race in fifth position.
At Valencia on November 12th Marquez will need a minimum of an 11th-place finish, if Dovizioso wins the race, to take a remarkable fourth MotoGP title in five seasons.
Marquez’s fourth-place finish here may not have secured him the Riders World Championship with one race remaining, but it did seal the 2017 MotoGP Constructors World Championship for Honda. Thus the company retains the title it won last year and makes it an amazing six constructors crowns over the last seven seasons with its mighty RC212V and RC213V V4 machines. Honda has won a record 23 constructors titles in the premier-class since its first success with the RC181 four-cylinder four-stroke. The Repsol Honda Team also leads the Teams World Championship, taking a 44-point advantage to Valencia.
The premier-class title is the only riders crown still to be decided, after impressive Italian youngster Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) made sure of the title in the Honda CB600-powered Moto2 World Championship. Last Sunday Joan Mir (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) took the Moto3 crown. Honda had already wrapped up the Moto3 Constructors World Championship, giving the Japanese manufacturer both constructors titles in MotoGP’s two open categories: MotoGP and Moto3.
Marquez began the race in awesome attacking style, charging through from the third row of the grid to take the lead into turn one, albeit very briefly. He then settled into a rhythm behind early leader Johann Zarco (Yamaha) and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) before Dovizioso came past.
Fully aware of the implications of a mistake, Marquez rode intelligently as he watched Dovizioso move into the lead, the 24-year-old Spaniard doing the points arithmetic while staying fast and focused all the way to the checkered flag. He decided that the 13 points for fourth place was the right result for his title hopes after a few worrying moments on the slippery surface.
Pedrosa was set on victory after taking an excellent pole position, his third of the year. His pace in dry practice was very strong and the fact that he had won three of the last four races here made him confident of fighting for another Sepang victory. The former 125cc and 250cc World Champion was foiled by a change in the weather, but still benefited from a late wet set-up change that provided him with greater rear-end feeling to come home a strong fifth.
Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) is always fast in the rain, but his hopes of another podium charge were dashed by a lack of feeling at the rear. Starting from 12th on the grid, Miller acclimatized to the conditions then started moving forward. By lap 14 of 20 laps he had passed Scott Redding (Ducati) for eighth, a place he maintained to the checkered flag. The 22-year Australian, who broke his right tibia last month, was nonetheless happy enough with his sixth top-eight finish of the season. Miller was strong all weekend, regularly inside the top six in free practice.
Briton Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) was frustrated with his 15th-place finish at the end of a tough weekend. The Briton struggled with rear-tyre issues and a lack of front-brake feeling, possibly caused by the spray thrown up by other bikes during the opening laps, which saw him drop to 22nd. After that the two-time MotoGP race struggled to find traction, forcing him to settle for a single World Championship point.
Former Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) also endured a challenging afternoon in the rain. The low-grip conditions didn’t suit the Spaniard who came home in 18th place.
In the Moto2 race Morbidelli celebrated his debut World Championship on the podium with a solid third-place finish, behind the dominant Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) and impressive rookie Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM).
In fact, Morbidelli secured the riders title before the race, after his only rival Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten Kalex) crashed heavily in qualifying. The 31-year old Swiss rider fractured his left ankle in the fall, so Morbidelli went into the race with an insurmountable 29-point advantage.
Morbidelli is Italy’s 14th world champion in the intermediate category, and the first since the late, great Marco Simoncelli secured the 250cc crown in Malaysia nine years ago. This is the second Moto2 crown for the Marc VDS team in four years and the sixth for chassis constructors Kalex since 2011.
Starting from pole, the 22-year old was keen to celebrate his title with a ninth win of the year, but Oliveira had other plans. Already by the end of the second lap the Portuguese rider had a one-second lead, a margin he increased as the race went on. Only when a light rain shower fell in the closing stages did his pace relent. He crossed the finish line 2.3 seconds ahead of Binder for his second win in seven days. Binder’s second place in as many Sundays made this another one-two for the Ajo KTM squad, the South African pulling clear of Morbidelli in the closing laps.
Behind the podium men, Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) took a fighting fourth place, after putting late moves on talented rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) and Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40 Kalex). Bagnaia took fifth, while Quartararo’s pace faded badly on the final lap, allowing local rider Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex) through for an excellent sixth in front of his hugely enthusiastic home crowd.
Behind Quartararo came Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing Tech 3), who took his third top-eight finish in as many races. Isaac Vinales (SAG Team Kalex) and Tetsuta Nagashima (Teluru SAG Team Kalex) rounded out the top ten.
Honda once again dominated the Moto3 race, with newly crowned World Champion Mir powering to his tenth win of a superb season. The 20-year old Spaniard again showed his speed and intelligence, winning a hotly-contested three-way fight with Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) and Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW).
The three men were locked together for much of the race, until Mir assumed control three laps from the flag. Within a quarter of a lap, he had established a half-second advantage, then made the most of his pursuers fighting among themselves to come home 0.7 seconds clear.
Mir’s tenth victory of the year is testament to his great feeling with Honda’s high-performing NSF250RW, which has won 16 of the 17 races so far. If he wins at Valencia, Mir will equal Valentino Rossi’s 20-year old record for the most number of wins in the junior class across a season.
Martin took second after a smart move on Bastianini at the final corner. His pace in morning warm-up pointed to a victory challenge. Indeed, the Spaniard had a 1.8-second lead after the first three laps, but then he lost some rear grip and that illusive debut GP win.
Bastianini rode an excellent race to take his third podium of the year, just 0.039 seconds behind Martin at the flag. Mir’s team-mate Livio Loi (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) followed his Phillip Island podium with another excellent showing, coming home fourth.
Briton John McPhee (British Team Honda NSF250RW) finished fifth to make it an all-Honda top five. The 23-year old McPhee, who started from the front row, recovered brilliantly after avoiding a stricken Nico Antonelli (KTM), an incident which forced him off the track and back to 13th.
Title runner-up Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW) was seventh, then Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) eighth, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) ninth.
MotoGP Rider Quotes
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team: 4th
“Today the race was the most difficult one we could have had for the championship because we had rain conditions and the track was extremely slippery. Anyway, I got a good start, and I tried to push at the beginning because I didn’t want to be stuck in the middle of the group. Then I tried to find the feeling and the pace, but I saw that both the Ducatis were very fast, so I decided to not take too many risks, to be calm, and to get good points for the championship. I thought about trying to get Zarco but the risk was too big just to have an advantage of 24 points instead of 21. This wasn’t the race to win the title but rather one to get closer to it. I’m happy because after a difficult weekend, at a track where we always struggle, we still managed to finish fourth. Of course now we need to keep focused, to train well this week, and to work to be at 100 percent on Sunday in Valencia without relaxing too much with the advantage we have. Today we won the constructors title, and that’s a first step!”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team: 5th
“Overall I’m happy with the result, and I’d like to thank my team for giving me a bike that allowed me to be competitive. Of course, after earning pole yesterday, the expectations would have been high if conditions had been dry, and when I saw the rain starting to fall I thought we might go from first to last. But in the end we changed the setting, trying something we had never used before in an effort to get more rear grip, and it worked! That and the choice of the soft rear tyre gave me confidence. The feeling still wasn’t perfect because the tyre was spinning on the straights, but at least it gave me edge grip and I was able to lean the bike. We’ve learned something that I think may also be helpful for the technicians in the future, so we can be satisfied. Today Honda won the constructors championship, and that’s important. It’s another title for the company, and I’m happy about that.”
Honda Moto2 Rider Quotes
Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Ajo: 1st
“Today I had to give everything, I can hardly speak. This was not the strategy I had in mind before we started, because Franco and Brad had a very good pace, so my plan was to ride behind them. But I saw that I could give a little more on the first few laps and I went for it. I gave everything I had and I am very proud to have succeeded. At the beginning of the season I did not imagine that we would be able to achieve these results. I thought we would be competitive but not that we would do so well. We deserve this end to the season.”
Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Ajo: 2nd
“At first, during the opening three or four laps, I didn’t feel too comfortable. But little by little I felt stronger as the race progressed. My bike was amazing, and I have to thank my team for that. When I saw that it was beginning to rain, I told myself that I had to give everything and get away from Franco. To finish second is incredible: I want to thank my team again for all the effort they’ve put in, and I’m looking forward to Valencia.”
Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 3rd
“This is an incredible feeling and now the reality is sinking in after the race. I am so happy for myself but also sorry for Tom Luthi who could not race today. However I have done a great season with fantastic support from my team, even though we suffered some down days. I wanted to make a good race today and get on the podium on the day we secured the championship.”
Honda Moto3 Rider Quotes
Joan Mir, Leopard Racing: 1st
“It was a really tough race, on the limit! In the first laps I touched some opponents while Jorge started to push and open a gap. Then I improved my feeling with the tyres and I started to recover previous tenths. I tried to manage the tyres because it was impossible to get to the top with that rhythm. In the last laps, I rode very hard to get to the finish line! I have never looked at the numbers or records of other riders, and I will probably do the same for the next race – I will only think about having fun on the bike! Even if I did not win today, it would not have been a problem; it was not my goal; but I also think that winning is the best way to honour a world title. Finally, I want to dedicate this victory to Stefan Kiefer: he was my first team manager at CEV 2015. A hug to all his family.”
Jorge Martin, Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3: 2nd
“Given my pace in warm-up, I tried to give my all at the beginning of the race to pull away, and I almost did it. It was the right thing to do because we had everything we needed to do it, but it wasn’t enough. We are competitive everywhere and that’s out there for everyone to see. The team is working extremely well, so I hope we’ll keep the momentum going at Valencia.”
Enea Bastianini, Estrella Galicia 0,0: 3rd
“It was a really difficult race. I didn’t get a good start and was passed by several riders. After two or three laps I saw that I had a good pace, so I was able to move up positions. Mir and Martin had already escaped, so I had to push a lot to cut the gap. That meant that the front tyre was put under a lot of pressure, because I did a lot of hard braking. When I got to the front, I tried to slow down a bit to rest. There were few laps left and Martín tried to out-brake me; I went a little wide and I had to push again to get back in with a chance of victory. I tried to win at all costs, but in the end it wasn’t to be.”
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2017
Round 17: Malaysia Race
|1||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|2||Jorge LORENZO (Ducati Team)|
|3||Johann ZARCO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|4||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|5||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|6||Danilo PETRUCCI (OCTO Pramac Racing)|
|7||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|8||Jack MILLER (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|9||Maverick VIÑALES (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|10||Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|11||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)|
|12||Bradley SMITH (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|13||Scott REDDING (OCTO Pramac Racing)|
|14||Hector BARBERA (Reale Avintia Racing)|
|15||Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda)|
|1||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|3||Franco MORBIDELLI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|4||Mattia PASINI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|5||Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|6||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)|
|7||Fabio QUARTARARO (Pons HP40)|
|8||Xavi VIERGE (Tech 3 Racing)|
|9||Isaac VIÑALES (BE-A-VIP SAG Team)|
|10||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA (Teluru SAG Team)|
|11||Simone CORSI (Speed Up Racing)|
|12||Augusto FERNANDEZ (Speed Up Racing)|
|13||Andrea LOCATELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|14||Iker LECUONA (Garage Plus Interwetten)|
|15||Jesko RAFFIN (Garage Plus Interwetten)|
|1||Joan MIR (Leopard Racing)|
|2||Jorge MARTIN (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)|
|3||Enea BASTIANINI (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|4||Livio LOI (Leopard Racing)|
|5||John MCPHEE (British Talent Team)|
|6||Andrea MIGNO (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|7||Romano FENATI (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers)|
|8||Aron CANET (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|9||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)|
|10||Bo BENDSNEYDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|11||Adam NORRODIN (SIC Racing Team)|
|12||Ayumu SASAKI (SIC Racing Team)|
|13||Juanfran GUEVARA (RBA BOE Racing Team)|
|14||Gabriel RODRIGO (RBA BOE Racing Team)|
|15||Manuel PAGLIANI (CIP)|