2015 MotoGP of Malaysia: Race and championship preview
- The drivers won't be the only ones hanging on to their seats this race - viewers will, too. MotoGP moves from last week's Australian race to the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia.
Just minutes before the start of Phillip Island I was quoted as saying “Hang On To Your Butts” and boy oh boy did we need to hang on to them. That was the most thrilling dogfight in MotoGP in a long time.
I have to admit I was literally screaming at the television. Many called it the race of the century, and this was only the MotoGP category. The Moto3 was equally nail biting and still no championships decided as Miguel Oliveira closed within 40 points of Kent and emerged as the new title rival in place of Bastianini. But now we fly to Malaysia for the penultimate round of the 2015 season.
This race and the season finale in Valencia will be crucial for 4 riders, namely Miguel Oliveira and Danny Kent who are fighting for the Moto3 title and the 2 Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Who will come out on top in the end?
And will other riders play a crucial role in deciding the title? Malaysia will be a tricky race because of the intense heat and the heavy rain that usually accompanies it. MotoGP pundit David Emmett observed that Rossi is a complete rider due to his vast experience, while Lorenzo on the other hand needs perfect conditions to truly dominate. But that does not mean that Lorenzo can only deliver a powerful performance in the dry, as he is a fair good rider in the wet conditions and only struggles in changing conditions.
The pressure finally seems to be getting to Danny Kent because he has binned the bike for 2 consecutive races and that has allowed Miguel Oliveira, his future teammate, to close in on him although his other title rival Enea Bastianini squandered his championship chances too. With 40 points between them and 50 points ripe for the taking, Kent cannot afford any more mistakes.
For Oliveira to win he needs to win the remaining flyaway race and the season finale and Kent should score less than 10 points. Oliveira will win the championship if things go his way even if there is a tie between himself and Kent because he would have more second place finishes than Kent. But then as I have mentioned time and again Moto3 is known for its unpredictability. Last year’s winner was Efren Vazquez, but it will be difficult for him to repeat that feat.
Prediction: In the event of a wet race, which is very likely, we may be in for a surprise podium of Niccolo Antonelli in P3, Romano Fenati in P2 and Miguel Oliveira taking the chequered flag. Feel free to place your wages!
Although the championship is wrapped up, that doesn’t mean everyone stops racing. This battle will be a matter of pride as well as to attract potential rides next season. Riders like Tito Rabat will be stepping up next year to the big leagues but that’s another story.
Last week’s winner Alex Rins will be gunning to keep up the momentum, but newly crowned World Champion Johann Zarco won’t make things easy for him. The big question will also be “Will Tito Rabat be fit to ride in Sepang?”
Last year Maverick Vinales, who has since then stepped up into MotoGP, won the race. This year it has only been about Tito, Alex and Johann with Sam Lowes occasionally sticking his finger in the winner’s pie. Sometimes, though, the races can be a bit of a turn off due to the lack of battles up and down the order. There is no denying that the rain will spice things up a little.
Prediction: Zarco will add to his collection of winner’s trophies with Alex Rins and Tom Luthi in tow – in that order.
This is the Big One. Marquez won the last round in Australia after an INSANE dogfight between himself, Lorenzo, Iannone and Rossi.
Spoiler Alert: They finished in that very order. People dubbed it the race of the century and the pendulum could have swung any which way. Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa could have joined the fun and made it a hat trick of wins but a problem with acceleration put paid to that. The biggest surprise was Suzuki youngster Maverick Vinales who finished 6th despite being 25kph slower than his rivals.
As we move to a hazy Malaysia the rain factor could throw a giant wrench into the championship machinery. For Rossi to win the championship here are the ideal scenarios:
If he wins Jorge Lorenzo has to finish 6th place or higher.
If he finishes 2nd, Lorenzo has to finish 9th or higher.
If he finishes 3rd, Lorenzo has to finish 13th or higher
If he finishes 4th he cannot win the championship.
Jorge Lorenzo cannot win the championship in Malaysia but if he wins and Rossi finishes 3rd Rossi will have a 2-point advantage going into Valencia.
Prediction: A Yamaha 1-2 with Lorenzo leading Rossi and head to the championship decider with 6 points separating them. Filling in the final podium spot will be Marc Marquez who will want to salvage some of his lost pride. All in all we will be treated to another cliffhanger of the same caliber that we saw in Phillip Island.