Marquez Ties Record at Sepang

Moto GP 2014

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez returned to the top step at Sepang, taking his 12th victory this year and tying Mick Doohan’s 1997 record for the most wins in a single season. Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi finished in second followed by his teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, in third.

Off the start Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, led the way with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Rossi and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl following through fifth. Marquez, meanwhile, settled into sixth after making contact with Lorenzo in the first corner, a move which sent this year’s champion wide. Lorenzo was undeterred by the touch and pushed ahead, passing Dovi and Pedrosa within the first rotation.

The incident-packed event saw misfortune hit a number of competitors early. On the second lap  NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro and Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista both dropped their machines in separate incidents. Pedrosa’s fortunes also turned on Lap 2, the Honda ace losing the front and taking a slow speed slide into the gravel while batting for podium position. Pedrosa took wins the past two years at Sepang and was strong through the practice and qualifying sessions this time around as well. He was able to right the bike and rejoin the action from the back of the pack, getting to 11th before crashing a second time during the latter portion of the race.

“For some reason on lap two I lost the front end and went down,” explained Pedrosa. “I don't know what could have happened, because I wasn't riding on the limit. Luckily I was able to pick the bike back up, continue the race and regain positions. I rode very well afterwards, with a good feeling, and then the same thing happened again. I wasn't riding on the limit and I crashed a second time, in the same way as before. We are going to look at what might have happened, because it occurred twice in a row and on the same side of the tire.”

Lorenzo held to the lead after Pedrosa’s first off, with Rossi trailing in second and Marquez in third. The three riders proceeded to break away from the field and hold position until mid-race. Marquez explained afterward in a post-race press conference that he was biding his time to let the tires and brakes cool after his push up the ranks in the opening laps. Conditions were scorching at the Malaysian circuit, with near 130-degree Fahrenheit track temps, 96-degree air temps and 50% humidity. “It was probably the hottest race in Malaysia in the whole 12 years that I have competed,” said Lorenzo. 

As the race reached mid-point the attrition rate grew, with Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden crashing out and Dovi’s teammate, Cal Crutchlow, exiting the race after an electrical issue caused his engine to quit. At the front the action heated up when Rossi began to challenge Lorenzo for the top spot, the two Yamaha riders swapping position a handful of times before Rossi made a pass for the lead stick. Marquez was right behind in third and couldn’t wait any longer, making a pass by Lorenzo soon after Rossi’s move to the front. Marquez trailed the Doctor for a lap before moving to the lead when Rossi ran wide with 10 to go.

The final laps saw Rossi fight to keep up with Marquez and Lorenzo become a non-issue back in third. Rossi proved unable to keep the Honda ace within reach however, and coasted across the line as the runner-up. Later both Yamaha riders explained that the tire drop during the last rotations made it impossible to contend with Marquez for the lead.
“This was one of the toughest races of the year for me physically and I'm happy to have equaled Mick Doohan’s record,” said Marquez. “We knew to expect this kind of weather in Malaysia but it was especially hot today and we all found it hard to finish the race.”

Behind the front runners, Dovi had maintained a solitary fourth until the final laps when a mechanical issue forced him to slow and cede position to Bradl and others before the finish. Bradl came through to finish in fourth followed by Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro in fifth and sixth, respectively. Pol powered through a broken left foot to compete in the race. Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez got up to seventh while Dovi crossed the line in eighth.

Marquez added another 25 to his season total with Rossi trailing in second. The Doctor put four more points between himself and Lorenzo, who sits third, after his performance at Sepang. Pedrosa is fourth after his second consecutive DNF and Dovi is fifth.

MotoGP Sepang Results 2014 
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 
2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 
4. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 
5. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 
6. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 
7. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 
9. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 
10. Scott Redding (Honda) 
11. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 
12. Michael Laverty (PBM) 
13. Mike Di Meglio (Avintia) 
14. Broc Parkes (PBM)

MotoGP Championship Points 2014
1. Marc Marquez, 337 
2. Valentino Rossi, 275 
3. Jorge Lorenzo, 263 
4. Dani Pedrosa, 230 
5. Andrea Dovizioso, 174 
6. Pol Espargaro, 126 
7. Bradley Smith, 119 
8. Aleix Espargaro, 117 
9. Stefan Bradl, 109 
10. Andrea Iannone, 102
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