2019 MotoGP Malaysian Grand Prix Preview

After the Australian Grand Prix, MotoGP as well as Moto2 and Moto3 head to Sepang in Malaysia for the final part of the series triple header.

Moto3

Lorenzo Dalla Porta heads to Malaysia having wrapped up the Moto3 title at the first opportunity after winning at Phillip Island while closest rival, Aron Canet, crashed out.

It means that Canet hasn’t scored points since his victory in Aragon. With third placed Tony Arbolino having finished in ninth in Australia it means that the gap between the two is now down to fourteen points with two races remaining.

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Yet Arbolino will still need to be wary of threats behind him with Marcos Ramirez only four points behind the Italian in the championship after Ramirez finished second in Australia and has finished inside the top eight in the three races prior to this weekend.

John McPhee is immediately behind Ramirez in the championship with seventeen points separating the two as McPhee finished fifth compared to Ramirez’s podium finish. McPhee has closed the gap slightly to Arbolino, going to Sepang twenty one points behind the Italian.

Albert Arenas continued his good recent form recording a third consecutive podium finish in Australia, it means he heads to Malaysia eighteen points behind sixth placed Niccolo Antonelli. In between the two are three other riders with Celestino Vietti six points behind Antonelli and five points ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki, who finished fourth in Australia. There is then a six point gap between Suzuki and Jaume Masia who is one point ahead of Arenas.

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Australia GP 2019” by Box Repsol is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You could extend the group a little more by including Dennis Foggia and Ai Ogura who are seven and fourteen points behind Arenas respectively heading to Sepang. Foggia has finished inside the points in three of the last four races, which includes a podium finish in Aragon and a fifth place finish in Thailand. Ogura, similarly, has finished in the points in three of the last four races, the highlight of which is his second place finish at Aragon.

There are other little groups of riders further down the standings which could see a lot of change in the final two races of the season with ten points covering Jakub Kornfeil in thirteenth down to Gabriel Rodrigo in sixteenth. Alonso Lopez is the most in form of this four rider group having finished inside the points in the last four races, which includes a podium finish in Thailand.

Rodrigo is only five points ahead of Ayumu Sasaki after the Japanese rider claimed his fifth top ten finish of the season in Australia. Yet eight points covers five riders from Sasaki in seventeenth down to Darryn Binder in twenty first. Binder is coming on strong in the final races having shown strong race pace in Thailand before eventually getting a sixth placed finish two races later in Australia.

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Thanks to the very large front group and close racing in Australia, Tom Booth-Amos was able to capitalise to claim his best finish in the Moto3 class, eventually being classified in eighth, his second points finish of the season. It was also a strong race for Stefano Nepa who claimed his third points finish of the season after managing to claim tenth in Australia.

Moto2 

Alex Marquez goes to Malaysia still in the lead of the Moto2 championship, although his advantage at the top has reduced further after he could only manage eighth in Australia while nearest rival, Thomas Luthi, claimed third.

It was a long shot for Marquez to clinch the title in Australia and will have another go this weekend. He is currently twenty eight points ahead of Luthi, thirty three ahead of Brad Binder, forty three ahead of Jorge Navarro and fifty ahead of Augusto Fernandez.

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There are a maximum of fifty points still available with the two races remaining and Marquez theoretically can leave Malaysia with a twenty five point advantage knowing he will be champion thanks to his five race wins, with the next highest number of Moto2 wins in 2019 being Fernandez, Binder and Lorenzo Baldassarri who have all claimed three victories.

Marquez’s form going to Malaysia has dipped over the last three races, but has still managed to finish inside the top eight in those races. Luthi by comparison has also finished inside the top eight in the three races prior to this weekend, two of which though have been podium finishes. Binder likewise has finished in the points in the previous three races which include a second place at Thailand and victory last time out in Australia. Navarro and Fernandez are perhaps in slightly worse form, both having only finished in the points twice in the last three races.

Elsewhere in the Moto2 class, rookie Jorge Martin had another impressive race as he shadowed his teammate and claimed his best result of the season, finishing second at Phillip Island. It means he has joined fellow Moto2 rookies Fabio Di Giannantonio and Enea Bastianini in the fight to be the best Moto2 rookie of 2019.

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Di Giannantonio currently leads the trio with Bastianini six points behind while Martin is eighteen points behind but is the more in form of the three having finished inside the top ten in the last four races, of which his two most recent results have been podium finishes. He can’t focus solely on Di Giannantonio and Bastianini as Iker Lecuona is only three points behind Martin.

A mention to Stefano Manzi who goes to Sepang off the back of claiming his third top ten finish of the season after having a strong race at Phillip Island where he finished ninth. It has brought him to within a point of Mattia Pasini who has retired from the three races prior to Malaysia. Lastly a mention also to Bo Bendsneyder who claimed his fourth points finish of the season, finishing fifteenth in Australia.

MotoGP 

Marc Marquez heads to Malaysia having won the last five races as he edges closer to his 2014 win tally of thirteen races in a season.

17 Australia GP 24, 25, 26 y 27 de octubre de 2019, circuito de
GP de Australia 2019” by Box Repsol is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It was unlucky for Maverick Vinales who claimed pole position and led the majority of the race at Phillip Island before a last lap crash meant he goes to Malaysia off the back of his fourth retirement of the season. It has given Alex Rins a reprieve of sorts in the battle for third place with the two now separated by seven points having been level going into the Australia race weekend.

Fabio Quartararo’s impressive run of consecutive top five finishes has ended after he ran wide and was then taken out by Danilo Petrucci on the opening lap. With the two having retired, along with Vinales. It has meant that Valentino Rossi has moved to within ten points of Quartararo and is twenty three points off Vinales having finished eighth in Australia.

Thanks to Vinales’ last lap crash, Jack Miller goes to Sepang off the back of his fourth podium finish of the season after fending off other riders on the last lap to claim third. It means he is now twelve points behind Rossi in the championship, but is only eight ahead of Cal Crutchlow who finished second in Australia, his third podium of the 2019 season.

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Francesco Bagnaia had an impressive ride in Australia and goes to Sepang having achieved his best result in MotoGP to date, fourth place. It brings the Italian to within three points of Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro in fourteenth and seven points ahead of the other Aprilia rider, Andrea Iannone.

The two Aprilia’s head to Malaysia having had a strong showing in Australia with Iannone claiming his best finish in 2019, sixth place, having mixed inside the top three in the early laps. Espargaro also had a strong race claiming his fourth top ten finish of the season, a tenth place finish.

Like Bagnaia, Joan Mir also goes to Malaysia off the back of his best result in MotoGP after finishing fifth at Phillip Island, his previous best being sixth at the Catalan Grand Prix. It also means the Spaniard has finished inside the top ten in four of the last five races and is now twelve points behind the KTM of Pol Espargaro.

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Johann Zarco fared well on his return to racing in Australia as the mixed conditions throughout the weekend hampered his time to get settled on the 2018 spec Honda run by LCR Honda. Despite this he had a race long battle with former teammate, Pol Espargaro and eventually finished in the points in thirteenth and ahead of factory Honda rider, Jorge Lorenzo.

Lastly a mention for Hafizh Syahrin who has been riding one of the Tech3 KTM’s this season. He heads to his home race off the back of claiming his fifth points finish of the season, having moved up to fifteenth thanks to Vinales’ last lap crash.

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