Yamaha arrived in Australia on their worst ever losing streak but after a stunning victory for Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) at Phillip Island, the drought is over.
Now we head for a very different venue in a very different climate: the Malaysian masterpiece of Sepang International Circuit. Sepang is far from the cool breeze and chilly evenings of the Island and could well throw up a very different race.
Viñales looked unstoppable in Australia and was back on the top step for the first time since Le Mans in 2017, boosting his confidence and adding a spring to his step on the way to Malaysia - he'll be one to watch.
— Maverick Viñales (@maverickmack25) October 29, 2018
For teammate Valentino Rossi it wasn’t quite the same weekend, however, as the ‘Doctor’ fought for second before then being relegated to sixth by the flag. Viñales has reversed the trend of late and that means the two are now separated by only 15 points in the Championship.
15 points is now also the gap between Rossi and second overall Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) – so it’s all in play behind newly-crowned Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
Dovizioso's teammate last time out, Alvaro Bautista, also had great pace at the Island on the GP18 so it wasn’t a one-pony trick for the Borgo Panigale factory. But he now returns to the Angel Nieto Team as, in turn, Jorge Lorenzo returns from injury.
Second last year was a good showing but even more pivotal was Lorenzo’s form in testing earlier in the season: he was at his poetry-in-motion best to put in the fastest ever lap of Sepang International Circuit.
Lorenzo & Ducati: learning to dance in red@lorenzo99 broke the lap record on his way to topping the times at the first test of 2018 in Sepang
— MotoGP™ (@MotoGP) March 10, 2018
Not so fast, however – at least on paper. The fastest official lap, from a race weekend, remains Dani Pedrosa’s 2015 1:59.053 and the ‘Little Samurai’ has some serious form at Sepang: five poles and three premier class wins. Higher temperatures raise expectations too, so what can Pedrosa do coming back from a DNF in his second last MotoGP™ outing?
Meanwhile his teammate Marquez, also ended up with a 0 in Australia. Hit from behind by Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and sustaining too much damage, he agreed it was a racing incident but both didn’t manage to finish – leaving a few usual suspects out of the mix at the front. Marquez has only one win at Sepang in the premier class, taken in 2014.
— MotoGP™ (@MotoGP) October 29, 2018
The heat is on at Sepang and another piece of the puzzle will be played out at 300km/h around the fast and challenging circuit – so who can tame the Malaysian masterpiece? Find out on Sunday 4th November 6:00pm AEDT.