It’s a sizzler in Sepang once again for the Shell Advance Malaysian MotoGP 2014. Here’s our comprehensive report of how Sunday went down in Sepang.
Sunday in the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) kicked off early on Sunday starting with Malaysia’s finest in the Malaysian Super Series (MSS) Bikes races. Shortly thereafter, the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup season finale race kept the adrenalin alive at noon (read our comprehensive race report here).
Off the black-top, the Mega MotoGP carnival also took centre stage as various bike and bike accessories brands made their presence felt in the circuit’s Mall Area.
Welcoming visitors first at the circuit’s Welcome Centre was title sponsor Shell Advance and its showcase. Plenty of activities were held, and the BikesRepublic.com team were present here as well, facilitating our friend’s at Shell with exciting activities, notably with our race bike simulators.
For the rest of the day, fans were treated with plenty of on-track action from the day’s Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP races, lasting right up until the late afternoon. Providing one of the day’s most exciting action was the Moto3 race, giving fans their ticket money’s worth of thrills and spills.
Winning the 18-lap Moto3 race was Efren Vasquez from the Honda-powered SaxoPrint-RTG team. Taking the second podium spot was championship leader Jack Miller from the Red Bull KTM Ajo outfit, with the Aussie’s podium finish keeping his title chase alive against nearest rival Alex Marquez. Taking the final podium spot in the class was Estrella-Galicia Honda rider Alex Rins.
Unfortunately, the three Malaysians in the Moto3 saw their home race campaign end on a less than positive note. SIC-AJO riders Hafiq Azmi and Hafiza Rofa could only finish the race in 13th and 20th respectively on their KTM race machines.
Team Ongetta Air Asia rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin, on the other hand, suffered another blow to his struggling career after crashing out early in the race as well. It appears the Banting native will have his hands full next year when he joins the newly formed SIC Moto3 team.
The action and excitement continued with the Moto2 race shortly after. Spaniard Maverick Viñales from the Paginas Amarillas HP40 team took the race win, followed closely by Finnish rider Mika Kallio of the Marc VDS Racing Team.
However, the day’s glory went to Kallio’s teammate and third place winner Esteve ‘Tito’ Rabat. With the podium finish, 25-year-old Tito effectively secured his title as the 2014 Moto2 world champion in Sepang.
Just like Moto3, the Malaysian riders’ campaign in Moto2 was also dismal. Petronas Raceline rider Hafizh Syahrin, who was in line for a top ten finish, crashed out around the halfway point of the race. His Idemitsu Honda Team Asia counterpart Azlan Shah, on the other hand, could only settle for a 20th place finish, ending the Malaysian encampment with no results again this year.
Suffice to say, only Shafiq Rasol’s maiden win the day before in the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup series was the only time the Negaraku was played on the podium throughout the weekend.
All eyes were then focused on the black top for the main event, the premier MotoGP class race. And, just like the Moto2 and Moto3 races preceeding it, fans got their ticket money’s worth here as well.
The first upset came when the ‘Sepang Specialist’ Dani Pedrosa from the Repsol Honda outfit crashed out at Turn 15 in the first lap. He subsequently suffered another crash later on, ending his campaign in Malaysia early.
To the delight of many Yamaha fans, both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino ‘The Doctor’ Rossi charged up ahead of double world champion and Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez. The two Movistar Yamaha works riders later gave fans more thrills as they battled for the lead up until the mid-point.
From the mid-point, pole-sitter Marc Marquez finally recovered from his bad start, and began battling against Rossi for the race lead. But, with just a handful of laps remaining, Marquez showed why he is the double world champion, passing Rossi, and keeping him at bay right up until the chequered flag.
With the win, Marc Marquez finally charted another record, equalling himself to with legendary Aussie rider Mick Doohan’s 12 wins in a season. Already crowned as the 2014 world champion, Marc Marqeuz’ win was certainly popular with the local crowd, but the overwhelming number of Malaysians donning the iconic number 46 yellow tee-shirts in the grandstands was hard to ignore.
As the day comes to a close, the annual Malaysian MotoGP weekend once again proved that the passion for two-wheeled racing amongst Malaysians is strong as it has ever been. With over 130,000 spectators filling the grandstands on raceday, SIC management surely has got a new benchmark for next year’s edition.
Below are several mega galleries from the weekend, with some additional images courtesy of Dorna/MotoGP.com, and the SIC Photo Desk. More pictures from the weekend can also be viewed at the official BikesRepublic.com Facebook page.
Additional images by Dorna/MotoGP.com and SIC Photo Desk