MotoGP king Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) finished a brave second in today’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, just 24 hours after taking a heavy tumble in yesterday’s qualifying session.
This remarkable result continues Marquez’s amazing run of 17 top-two finishes from the first 18 races of 2019. It also breaks yet another record for the 26-year-old Spaniard, who has scored 395 points so far this season, an all-time record.
Weather conditions at Sepang were as gruelling as ever, with high temperatures and sweltering humidity making this arguably the toughest race of the season for riders, their motorcycles and tyres.
Life would have been tough for Marquez during a perfect Sepang weekend, but the six-times MotoGP World Champion made life more difficult for himself by falling at Turn Two yesterday. The crash left him battered and bruised, but once again he shrugged off the pain throughout the race to finish just three seconds behind winner Maverick Vinales.
Marquez’s injuries weren’t his only concern following yesterday’s tumble. As a result of the fall he was unable to complete qualifying, which put him outside the top ten on the grid for the first time since Mugello 2015.
And yet he rode an incredible first few laps, using the awesome power of his RC213V to move into fifth place in the first corners and into second place by the end of the first lap. From there he gave chase to Vinales, who was also his main rival in last Sunday’s Australian GP, but he had already overused his tyres in that epic early comeback. Occasionally he did slightly close the gap on his countryman, but considering his physical condition he decided to focus on staying on board in the hot and slippery conditions.
With 18 of 19 races done Marquez’s record stands at 11 victories, six second places and one DNF, when he slid out of the lead in April’s Grand Prix of the Americas.
Marquez secured the 2019 MotoGP Riders World Championship at last month’s Thailand Grand Prix and helped Honda wrap up a record-breaking 25th MotoGP Constructors World Championship at the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago. Two Sundays from now he will aim to help the Repsol Honda Team win the MotoGP Teams World Championship. If rider, manufacturer and team succeed in this endeavour it will be their third consecutive triple crown.
Marquez’s record-breaking result made his day complete, after his younger brother earlier secured the Moto2 World Championship. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) finished second in today’s Moto2 race to make sure of the title with one race remaining. Indeed, the joy of the brotherly celebration helped him forget his injuries when he went out to race his RC213V!
Team-mate Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) rode a determined race, securing his first World Championship points since September’s San Marino Grand Prix. The three-times MotoGP World Champion is still working his way back to full strength and confidence following a four-race layoff due to injuries sustained at June’s Dutch TT.
Lorenzo’s pace through the race, chasing Aleix Espargaro over the line, suggested that he is slowly returning to full-race fitness. The 33-year-old Spaniard also fell yesterday but suffered no ill effects during the race, when he rode with more confidence than he’s had at recent races.
Johan Zarco (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) was very much out of luck. The 29-year-old Frenchman was showing great speed during his second race aboard the 2018-spec RC213V machines of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V), who is recovering from shoulder surgery. Zarco rode a strong race, working his way forward and into the top ten. He was running a very promising ninth with just four laps to go when he was taken out by Joan Mir. The Spanish rookie was sanctioned with a long-lap penalty for his aggressive move on Zarco.
Last Sunday Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) finished a brilliant second to Marquez in Australia after a superb weekend’s work. However, the 34-year-old Briton has had a more challenging time here. He was able to chase faster riders in qualifying to snatch an excellent second-row start, but he struggled to extract maximum performance from his RC213V over race distance. Crutchlow was holding 12th place, unable to find decent front grip, when he slid off six laps before the finish. It was his first fall since he crashed in similarly low-grip conditions at Misano in September.
Today’s Malaysian Grand Prix followed the Japanese and Australian events, on three consecutive weekends. The MotoGP paddock now returns to Europe for the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix in Spain on November 17.