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MotoGP Sepang: Gossip, rumour and intrigue

Valentino Rossi started some mind games on Sunday at Sepang when talking about the 2015 Valencia MotoGP finale and whether he would get involved in the title scrap. Rossi senses a conspiracy two years ago when Marc Marquez appeared to not pass Jorge Lorenzo in order for his compatriot to take the title.

The Spaniard, of course, denied it even though he had superior pace and Rossi said that Marquez had always said that he did nothing, so Rossi said he will do the same. “He has always stressed that he has done nothing. So I'm going to do nothing,” before quickly adding: “Joking aside. I will drive my own race, as I have always done in my career.”

Britain’s Cal Crutchlow has blamed another woeful wet-weather performance on a bad rear Michelin which he says caused him to go from tenth to last on the first lap of Sunday’s race.


His LCR Honda team described the tyre as ‘misshapen’ as Crutchlow struggled to find any grip from it. He recovered to 15th place in the race - some 50s behind winner and former Monster Yamaha team-mate Andrea Dovizioso – but said he knew he had a problem on the warm-up lap.

"The warm-up lap, I had a big vibration, no rear grip immediately. I cruised around, unable to even open the throttle. I was wide everywhere because I couldn't lean the bike, the rear grip was that bad,” he opined.

“I just rode round, making sure I finished the race because it looked like I would get points if I just rode round. The only time the tyre started to work was the last lap.”

Dovizoso kept his title chances open with the win - assisted by an error from Ducati team-mate Jorge Lorenzo when he almost crashed at the turn 15 - but said he hadn’t for team orders to be put into place.

"I'm not one who goes to talk with the bosses about these things. I'm a sportsman and victory has to be earned on track. I did not ask Ducati for anything,” he said. Lorenzo had a on-dash message saying ‘mapping 8’ which was code for slow down and let Dovi past but the former champion says he didn’t see it. Yeah, right ho.

As the factory Yamahas struggled again in the rain, Johann Zarco put the 2016 M1 on the podium and says he isn’t too worried that next year he will get the ex-factory bikes which are currently slower than his in some conditions.

“I don’t think Yamaha did something wrong with the 2017 because they are not doing big changes. They will not give it if something is weak because it makes no sense; for Yamaha the target is to have four bikes on the grid and four bikes competitive,” said Zarco.

“so I think what we did this year with the 2016, because we have given more information from the year before to compare – why not have the 2018 from the factory and let’s see what we can have, but even better bike.

Herve Poncharal’s Tech3 squad are always presented with the current works bikes after the Valenica chequered flag to use in the subsequent test. Apparently, Guy Coulon in preparing a ‘Gone for lunch, back in three days’ sign for the garage door.


Bradley Smith for once was the first of the Brits home but didn’t have enough time to change his KTM’s setup 100 per cent. The Oxfordshire copper-top said he was pleased with the result as he cur his gap to the leader from the last wet race by 12s. “This is a significant advance, with which we can be satisfied. We also know exactly where we need to improve and how we can implement it,” he said.

Team-mate Pol Espargaro ended up in a scrap with the factory Yamahas and he only got busted by Vinales on the last lap, which is some sort of improvement for the comparatively-small Austrian effort. “ We can be proud of, but of course want to be even better. Since the first MotoGP race of KTM, much has happened, our development is incredible,” he squeaked.

Jonas Folger’s dad was at the Sepang race as he had booked the flight some time ago and wasn’t about to lose all that cash. He reported his son was smiling and had gone to stay with a cousin in order to get the most rest possible. He should be back for Sepang testing in January. Jonas, that is, not his dad.

Loris Baz started the Sepang race well, opting for the soft rear tyre and was in a fight with Rossi until he crashed, so then wasn’t.

Tom Luthi might miss his MotoGP debut slot at Valencia as he is to undergo surgery on the ankle he injured in qualifying at Sepang and the recovery period is six weeks.

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