Monday, October 27

SEPANG: RACE OF TWO HALVES

By MICHAEL ESDAILE

THE 2014 Malaysian MotoGP race at the Sepang International Circuit was played out in two halves, with Merciless Marc Marquez coming out on top to score his 12th win of the season, equaling Mick Doohan’s 1997 record.

With back-to-back wins in Malaysia the past two years and a strong practice and qualifying performance, Marquez’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa was expected to be a strong challenger.  While Marquez got into an early encounter with Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo in the first corner, Pedrosa took the early lead.  However, Lorenzo recovered from his first corner tussle to sweep through into the lead before the first lap was over, with Pedrosa and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso in tow.  Behind them were Valentino Rossi and Marquez.

Expectations were high that Pedrosa was about to settle in for a race-long cat-and-mouse game with Lorenzo but the Honda man made a rare mistake, going down in the final corner at the end of the second lap.  He restarted and had worked his way back into the points before he crashed a second time and retired.  He was running 11th at that point.

Out front, Lorenzo tried to get away but Rossi, with Marquez in tow, dispatched Dovizioso and gave chase.

Lorenzo led the first nine of 20 laps before Rossi made his move, snatching the lead at the midway point, to the delight of the Yellow Hordes on both sides of the main grand stand.

But Marquez had been steadily closing the gap to the two Yamaha men and after letting Rossi have his moment in the sun, the Repsol Honda man pounced.  From that point he was never headed, though Rossi tried his best.

And Lorenzo?

The two-time MotoGP champ said he had not been able to train as hard as he would like at the three ‘fly-away’ races (Motegi, Phillip Island and Sepang) so he just didn’t have enough left in the tank in the second half of the race, and was having trouble with his braking.

That left the young Honda man and the Yamaha veteran going at it for most of the second half.  But just as Rossi thought he was in with a chance, Marquez upped the pace, dipping back down into the 2m 01s bracket, similar to what he had been recording around laps six to eight.

Rossi was unable to live with that, easing back to a 2m 3s lap on his penultimate circuit, leaving Marquez to go on to win by two and a half seconds.

Marquez’s race time was 40m 45.523s, a whisker slower than Pedrosa’s 2013 race record.

For full results, click here