Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) have arrived in Malaysia for the third and final leg of the challenging series of three overseas end-of-season races, which will see the MotoGP teams notch up around 35,000 kilometres of flight distance in less than one month.
The penultimate round of the season takes place at the Sepang International Circuit, a track that most riders enjoy to the full, and which has a series of characteristics that make it perfect for modern-day MotoGP bikes: long straights, a wide track and numerous passing spots. All the teams came to Malaysia for the MotoGP pre-season tests in February, and once again it will be the stifling heat of the equatorial country, together with the heavy rains, that will be a key factor throughout the entire weekend.
The Ducati Team has won four times at Sepang thanks to Loris Capirossi, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso, who scored his first win for Ducati and second in MotoGP here exactly twelve months ago. After the 2016 race in Malaysia, the last twelve months have been a whirlwind of wins and podiums for the Italian driver from Forlimpopoli, which have led him to fight for the title, right until the last round held at Phillip Island a few days ago. In the Australian GP Dovizioso only scored a thirteenth place, but even after this sudden stop, Andrea will try to keep the battle open with two rounds remaining, despite a gap of 33 points to leader Marquez.
Jorge Lorenzo would also like to quickly forget the Australian weekend, which saw him line up for the start of the race with bruising and a sprained left ankle, the outcome of a nasty crash during free practice. The Malaysian circuit is one of the few where the Spanish rider has never won in MotoGP but, with the exception of a DNF in 2008, Lorenzo has never been outside the top four place both in qualifying and in the races, twice finishing second and four times third at the flag.
With two rounds still to go before the end of the championship, Dovizioso is in second place in the overall standings with 236 points, while Lorenzo lies seventh with 117 points.
The Sepang weekend programme gets underway on Friday morning with the first free practice session at 9.55 am (03.55 CET), while the 20-lap race is scheduled for Sunday at 15.00 (08.00 CET).
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2nd (236 points)
“Unfortunately I lost a lot of points at Phillip Island and now my shot at the title appears to be compromised. But I always think positively and we are here in Malaysia at a very challenging circuit, together with the heat, where I won last year and where anything can happen. If Marquez keeps on being so fast in the last two races, it’s going to be a tough task, but at this point we must only try and bring home the best possible result and we are going all out to do that.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 7th (117 points)
“Sepang will be a completely different story to Phillip Island, because it’s a circuit that is more suitable for our bike, with two long straights. We must give our maximum in these last two races and finish the season in the best possible way. It’s important to begin the weekend well right from Friday’s free practice and demonstrate that now we are much more competitive to what we were in February for the winter tests. I can’t wait to get out on track in Malaysia to put the Australian weekend behind us.”
The Sepang International Circuit
The Sepang circuit, located about 50 km south of Kuala Lumpur, is one of the most modern and spectacular tracks in the world. It was built as part of a vast complex that also includes a hotel, shopping centre, golf course and other sports facilities. It was built in just 14 months, held its first GP in 1999 and set the standard for race circuits worldwide. With four slow corners following two long straights and ten medium to high-speed corners, the wide track is particularly favourable to overtaking and plenty of throttle. One of the longest laps in MotoGP is made all the more gruelling for riders by intense heat and humidity.
Fastest Lap: Pedrosa (Honda), 1’59.053 (167.6 km/h) – 2015
Circuit Record: Lorenzo (Yamaha), 2’00.606 (165.4 km/h) – 2014
Best Pole: Pedrosa (Honda), 1’59.053 (167.6 km/h) – 2015
Top Speed: Iannone (Ducati), 339.6 km/h – 2015
Track Length: 5.5 km
Race Distance: 20 laps (110.9 km)
Corners: 15 (5 left, 10 right)
Race Start: 15.00 (08.00 CET)
Podium: 1st Dovizioso (Ducati), 2nd Rossi (Yamaha), 3rd Lorenzo (Yamaha)
Pole Position: Dovizioso (Ducati), 2’11.485 (151.764 km/h)
Fastest Lap: Dovizioso (Ducati), 2’11.950 (151.230 km/h)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 04
Age: 31 (born on March 23rd 1986 in Forlimpopoli, Italy)
Residence: Forlì (Italy)
Races: 274 (176 x MotoGP, 49 x 250cc, 49 x 125cc)
First GP: 2001 Italian GP (125cc)
Wins: 16 (7 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
First Win: 2004 South African GP (125cc)
Pole Positions: 18 (5 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 9 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2003 French GP (125cc)
World Titles: 1 (1 x 125cc)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 99
Age: 30 (born on May 4th 1987 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain)
Residence: Lugano (Switzerland)
Races: 266 (172 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
First GP: 2002 Spanish GP (125cc)
Wins: 65 (44 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First Win: 2003 Brazilian GP (125cc)
Pole Positions: 65 (39 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2003 Malaysian GP (125cc)
World Titles: 5 (3 x MotoGP, 2 x 250cc)
Words and Photo by Ducati.com