story and photos courtesy of MotoGP
Dani Pedrosa leads Jorge Lorenzo at soaking Sepang
On a race weekend at the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang that saw all three classes affected by the elements in one way or another it was Moto3™ rider Sandro Cortese that stole the headlines by grabbing his maiden GP title, whilst Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa stunned all with a masterful display in a drenched premier-class race. In a dramatic MotoGP™ race hit by torrential rain and a raft of crashes, Pedrosa took the win ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner, bringing his title aspirations firmly within reach.
It was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo who got the holeshot ahead of Pedrosa, while Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi got a good start from 11th to move into fourth within the first lap. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso, who had a bad start, was carving his way through the pack and soon got past Rossi into fourth to chase down Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner in third.
Lorenzo, having opted for the softer option wet rear tyre, had a small margin over Pedrosa with 18 laps to go, who had the harder rear tyre. All Yamahas on the grid as well as Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham had opted for the soft-rear, hard-front combination, with all others running with hards front and rear. A lap later however and Pedrosa was breathing down Lorenzo’s neck having closed the gap to a fraction of a second.
Further afield Stoner was leading a group, about five seconds off the leading duo, with Dovizioso, Rossi, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista and Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow. With 12 laps remaining, Pedrosa was continuing to stick to Lorenzo’s rear wheel as the pair looked locked in a stalemate out on track. Further back on the same lap, Yamaha’s Bes Spies suffered a heavy crash out of tenth place, putting a premature end to his race. He was taken to the medical centre to check on a shoulder injury, and was later declared ok.
Rossi also dropped from behind Dovizioso back into ninth, as his teammate Hayden fought his way up to fifth. A lap further on and it was drama for Dovizioso as he also slid out of the race, which continued to be pummelled with rain. It was in the final turn of this lap that Pedrosa made a move stick on Lorenzo to take the lead just over the halfway point, and the Repsol rider instantly looked more comfortable in front, pulling a small gap. In the meantime, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards retired with a mechanical option.
As the grid headed into lap nine there were further crashes in the final turn as Crutchlow slid off, followed almost directly in the same place by Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet. It was a crash strewn lap, with Bradl also losing the front of his satellite Honda, and Avintia Blusens’ Iván Silva also crashing out. Back on track Rossi looked in his element as he squeezed past Bautista into fifth. Things were also getting interesting at the front as Lorenzo was being not only dropped off by Pedrosa, but also being closed down by Stoner at a very quick rate.
The rain was coming down heavily with 15 laps left, and Lorenzo suffered a very scary moment, where he saved a near crash just seconds before the Red Flag was shown due to safety concerns. After much deliberating as to whether a re-start would be possible, conditions deteriorated, and the win was awarded to Pedrosa, with Lorenzo and Stoner completing the rostrum. This now puts Pedrosa within 23-points, less than one race-win, of title rival Lorenzo, with 50-points still up for grabs in the final two races. Hayden recorded a fantastic fourth, ahead of Rossi, Bautista, Barberá, De Puniet’s teammate Espargaró, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison and Abraham.
Alex de Angelis leads the Moto2 field in a driving rain
NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis took his maiden-Moto2 win this season in a hugely dramatic and soaking wet Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang, finishing ahead of Anthony West and Gino Rea.
Following a torrential downpour before the start, the race was delayed by half an hour and declared wet by Race Direction. The first corner took its first casualty as Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami dropped his bike out of the lead. A few bends later there was a further crash with JiR Moto2’s Johann Zarco and Tech 3 Racing’s Xavier Siméon, also causing Marc VDS Racing Team’s Mika Kallio to run off track.
The early stages were being led by Blusens Avintia’s Julián Simón, De Angelis and Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Gino Rea, with the Brit making terrific headway in the early stages. Nakagami, who had re-mounted, fell once again after colliding with JiR Moto2’s Eric Granado, who later retired. QMMF Racing Team’s Anthony West had fought his way into fourth and Kallio’s teammate Redding was in fifth 17 laps in, as Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi was handed a ride-through penalty for a jump-start.
A lap later, Rea’s teammate Ratthapark Wilairot lost the front of his bike, as Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez held steady in sixth, ahead of his Tuenti Movil HP 40 title rival Pol Espargaró, who was struggling in 12th. The weather added yet another cruel twist, as sun started to dry out the track rapidly, with a dry line forming quickly. Márquez was not taking any risks, and Petronas Raceline Malaysia’s wildcard Hafizh Syahrin soon made his way past, much to the delight of the home fans.
With 13 laps remaining De Angelis was in the lead, yet Rea was having great ride and was putting the pressure on the San Marino rider, as West made his way into third past Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi. A lap later Syahrin was on a mission as he soon powered past West into third, and then skilfully took De Angelis, and then out-braked Rea for first in an amazing trio of overtakes. With nine laps remaining the rain started to fall heavier once more, and Rea began to fight back with Syahrin holding strong, until De Angelis and West also got involved in the battle for first.
There was however huge drama with seven laps remaining as Márquez lost the front of his bike and crashed out of the race, with Espargaró in a strong enough position to take the title fight to the next race. On the same lap there were also crashes for Kiefer Racing’s Mike Di Meglio and Mapfre Aspar Moto2 duo of Nico Terol and Jordi Torres. A lap later, Lüthi also put his bike in the gravel.
With four laps left De Angelis was pulling out a small gap in front with West in tow, but Rea was fighting back venomously as a three-way tussle ensued. This was however cut short as the Red Flag was shown with two laps to go with too much rain falling on the track. Rea was in the lead when the flag was waved, yet the classification was taken from the previous lap, giving De Angelis his maiden win of the season, with West is second and Rea in third, both taking their first-ever Moto2™ podiums.
With Márquez’s title rival Espargaró finishing in 11th place, Márquez was unable to secure his title with only a 48-point lead and will have to try once more in Phillip Island. Fourth place went to Syahrin, ahead of Simón, Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone, Kallio, Smith, Technomag-CIP’s Dominique Aegerter and Espargaró’s teammate Esteve Rabat.
At this weekend’s race at the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese won the inaugural Moto3 world title after an enthralling victory ahead of Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Jonas Folger.
The race got underway in scorching hot but dry conditions with AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin taking the holeshot into the tricky turn one, with Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger taking the led within a few bends. JHK t-shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez was mixing it up in third from the start, with Cortese fighting him for the podium spot. Mahindra Racing’s Ricardo Moretti crashed out of the race a few laps in, yet fortunately walked away from the incident unhurt. Racing Team Germany’s Louis Rossi had made his way into fourth with 16 laps left, as he attacked Cortese for third. Behind him, RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom had fought his way up to fifth, as a leading group of five started to pull away at the front with 13 laps remaining.
On the same lap there was drama for Frenchman Rossi, as he crashed out of contention, fortunately avoiding any of the other riders and escaping unscathed. This gave Estrella Galicia 0,0 duo Miguel Oliveira and Alex Rins, as well as Red Bull’s Danny Kent a chance to close in on the group. Ten laps from the end and Salom made his way past Cortese on the home straight, as the Spaniard looked to keep the title race alive.
A lap later and Mahindra’s Danny Kent had his race ended prematurely with mechanical problems, whilst Cortese got back past Salom, who had a wobble on track. With eight laps remaining another twist was added as a few rain flags came out in some corners on the track. And this prompted Khairuddin to make his move on Folger to take the lead, much to the delight of the local crowd. But Folger was fighting back fiercely, though with the Malaysian sporting superior speed on the home straight.
And it was fairing to fairing with the front two as Cortese stalked the pair from behind. Salom, who had dropped off, was battling Oliveira heavily for fourth. Cortese however was not content to stick it out, as he went past Folger into second to hunt down Khairuddin. And it was a typically breath-taking Moto3 last-lap, with Cortese passing the Malaysian in the final turn to deny him victory at his home track.
Cortese’s victory made him the first man ever to take the Moto3™ title, whilst Khairuddin took his first ever GP podium. Folger completed the rostrum closely behind. Cortese is now the youngest-ever German to win the lightweight class, and only the fourth of his countryman to do so. It is also the first time that a MotoGP category has been won by a KTM machine. Fourth spot went to Salom, ahead of Oliveira, Kent, Rins, Vázquez, TT Motion Events Racing’s Niklas Ajo and Vázquez’s teammate Adrian Martín.
Cortese made his 125cc Grand Prix debut after a lengthy spell in the German championship in 2005 with the Kiefer-Bos-Castrol Honda team in Jerez, Spain, where he finished in 30th. His maiden season saw him finish 26th in the overall standings, after which he lined up for the Elit-Caffe Latte team for the following three years on a Honda, steadily improving season by season, culminating in 8th place in the championship on 2008.
2009 saw Cortese make his first big mark on the world scene after his switch to Ajo Interwetten on a Derbi saw him finish the first race in Qatar in third. As well as his maiden pole position in Assen that year, he took two further podiums in Portugal and Australia, seeing him end the season in sixth. He partnered Marc Márquez in 2010 in the Ajo outfit, yet was unable to improve on his previous year, prompting a switch to Intact-Racing Team Germany on board an Aprilia for 2011.
That season yielded his first ever GP win in Brno, a win in Australia as well as four other podiums, seeing the German finish fourth in what was a strong field in the final year of the 125cc class. For the inaugural Moto3™ season Cortese switched to the Red Bull KTM Ajo team taking pole position at Qatar and third in the race. In what was a continuous scrap with rival Maverick Viñales all season, Cortese’s thirteen podiums in the first fifteen races revealed the German’s speed, skill and composure, which ultimately led to him taking the title in Malaysia, after a hard fought win in a battle with Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Jonas Folger.
Sandro Cortese facts:
Sandro Cortese is the first ever winner of the Moto3 world championship.
Cortese is the fourth German rider to win the lightweight class world title, joining: Werner Haas (NSU/1953), Dieter Braun (Suzuki/1970), Dirk Raudies (Honda/1993)
At the age of 22 years and 289 days he is the youngest-ever German rider to win the lightweight class world title.
He is the first rider to take a world title, in any of the three MotoGP categories, riding a motorcycle manufactured by KTM.
He has finished in the top six at all fifteen races so far in 2012, including thirteen podium finishes.
Birth date: 06/01/1990
Birth place: Ochsenhausen, Germany
First Grand Prix: SPA – 2005 – 125cc
First Pole Position: NED – 2009 – 125cc
First Podium: QAT – 2009 – 125cc
First GP Victory: CZE – 2011 – 125cc
Grand Prix Starts: 131
Grand Prix Victories: 6
Podiums: 24 Pole Positions: 9
Race Fastest Lap: 1
World Championship Wins: 1 x Moto3
2005: 125cc World Championship – 26th position on a Honda, 16 starts, 8 points
2006: 125cc World Championship – 17th position on a Honda, 16 starts, 23 points
2007: 125cc World Championship – 14th position on a Honda, 17 starts, 66 points
2008: 125cc World Championship – 8th position on a Honda, 17 starts, 141 points
2009: 125cc World Championship – 6th position on a Derbi, 16 starts, 130 points
2010: 125cc World Championship – 7th position on a Derbi, 17 starts, 143 points
2011: 125cc World Championship – 4th position on an Aprilia, 17 starts, 225 points
2012: Moto3™ World Championship – 1st position on a KTM, 15 starts, 280 points