Sunday, October 26

MALAYSIAN GP: A RETROSPECTIVE

World Championship Grand Prix racing arrived in Malaysia in 1991 when the old Shah Alam circuit hosted the country’s world championship.  A week before the race a test session was held so the teams could get their bikes set-up for the relatively tight circuit, a layout that suited American John Kocinski perfectly.

The young American had finally got the Marlboro Yamaha team to set his YZR500 up so it steered more like a 250 and he quickly started clicking off lap times Kevin Schwantz (Suzuki RG500), Wayne Rainey (Yamaha YZR500) and Aussies Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan (Honda NSR500s) just could not match.

So obsessed were Rainey and Schwantz with knocking Kocinski off his perch, they pushed too hard, crashed and injured themselves too badly to take part in the races.  They were flown back to the USA.

In the race, Gardner took up the cudgels on behalf of the ‘old guard’, but despite riding in his typical all-action style, Kocinski steadily edged away and went on to win his first of xx 500 class grand prix wins.

Asked at the post-race press conference what the difference was between winning on a 250 and winning on a 500, Kocinski looked either side of him, then leaned forward to the microphone.

“These guys (jerking a thumb back towards Gardner and Doohan) just don’t give up.”

He then said that just when he though he could ease off a little, Gardner started closing the gap, forcing him to speed up again.

Kocinski’s winning margin was 6.145 seconds.

The Malaysian GP continued on at Shah Alam until 1997.  In 1998 the race was held at the Johor Baru circuit, then moved to Sepang in 1999 where it has remained.

Kenny Roberts Junior won the 1999 and 2000 races at the new showcase circuit then Valentino Rossi s scored his first Malaysian MotoGP win there in 2001.

Rossi is the most successful MotoGP rider at Sepang, with five race wins to his credit.  Next most successful of the current riders is Dani Pedrosa who has won twice, in 2012 and 2013.

Pedrosa is one of three riders with a brace of race wins at Sepang.  The others are American Kenny Roberts Junior (back-to-back wins in 1999 and 2000) and Casey Stoner (2007 and 2009).

The other Sepang winners are Max Biaggi (2002) and Loris Capirossi (2005).

SEPANG MOTOGP WINNERS

1999:  Kenny Roberts (Suzuki), 44m 56.033s
Pole:  John Kocinski (Honda) 2m 06.848s
Lap record:  Mick Doohan (Honda), 2m 07.213s
2000:  Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) 15 laps (dry, then red-flagged?
2001:  Valentino Rossi (Honda), 44m 46.652s
2002:  Max Biaggi (Yamaha), 44m 01.592s
2003:  Valentino Rossi (Honda), 43m 29.146s
2005:  Loris Capirossi (Ducati), 43m 27.523s
2006:  Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 43m 07.829s
2007:  Casey Stoner (Ducati), 43m 04.405s
2008:  Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 43m 06.007s
2009:  Casey Stoner (Ducati), 47m 24.834s
2010:  Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), 41m 03.448s
2011:  Race red-flagged and not re-started
2012:  Dani Pedrosa (Honda), 29m 29.049s (red flagged after 14 laps, race declared at 13 laps).
2013:  Dani Pedrosa (Honda), 40m 45.191s (race record)
Lap record: Marc Marquez, 2m 01.415s
Pole Record: Marc Marquez, 2m 00.011s