Imperious Pedrosa Completes Honda MotoGP Hat-Trick

Imperious Pedrosa Completes Honda MotoGP Hat-Trick

Credit: Honda Worldwide

Honda MotoGP rider Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) took an imperious start-to-finish victory in today’s Malaysian Grand Prix; making it two wins in three races for the Spaniard and completing a Honda hat-trick at the last three races at Motegi, Phillip Island and now Sepang.

Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa
Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa
Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa

Team-mate and Australian GP winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) was the victim of a controversial battle several seconds behind the winner. Disputing third place with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), the reigning MotoGP World Champion crashed out after the title-leading Italian made contact with him.

The incident was investigated by Race Direction who gave Rossi three penalty points for making ‘deliberate contact’ with Marquez, but the race result remained unaltered.

Headlines about the battle between Marquez and Rossi, which had been simmering off-track all weekend, will inevitably and unfairly overshadow Pedrosa’s superb achievement.

It was emphatic proof of the former 125 and double 250 World Champion’s return to full fitness and top-of-the-class form, after having to withdraw at the start of the season for arm-pump surgery. The factory Honda veteran of ten years missed three race and was still recuperating when he returned.

He qualified on pole position for this race, the fourth time he has done so at Sepang. Seizing the lead into the first corner, he was never headed, eventually crossing the line 3.6 seconds clear of second-placed Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha). It was his third MotoGP win here among seven podiums, plus two more wins in the smaller classes.

Victory in Malaysia follows an equally masterful first win of the season (the 50th of his career) two races ago at Motegi in Japan. It also gained him one more championship place: now lying fourth, after having been as low as 15th on his return from surgery.

Marquez’s disappointment followed directly after his own 50th career victory the previous Sunday in Australia. That was the fifth win this year for the 2013 and 2014 champion, whose chances of retaining the crown slipped away with a series of mishaps earlier in the season.

He had qualified second on the grid for this race, and was still in touch with the leaders when his race was abruptly cut short on the seventh of 20 laps of the 5.543-km circuit. Gesturing in frustration, he returned to the pits simmering with anger.

This latest misfortune and zero-points score does not, however, affect his championship position. Still able to show the dominant strength that swept him to two successive crowns, his five race wins mean he is a secure third overall.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) took a strong fifth in the race, his fifth time in the top six in his first Honda season. The Briton was again the better of the pair riding the powerful Factory-spec Honda RC213Vs. His compatriot Scott Redding (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) finished eleventh, three seconds short of his goal of adding another top-ten result to his scoresheet.

Honda’s 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden (Aspar Team Honda RC213V-RS) emerged victorious in an almost race-long battle for 16th with fellow Open-spec Honda rider Jack Miller (LCR Honda RC213V-RS). Twenty-year-old Australian Miller is currently one point ahead of veteran Hayden in the fight to be top Open Honda rider in the championship.

Two more riders campaign Honda’s Open-spec machine. Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team Honda RC213V-RS) finished 19th, with Anthony West five seconds adrift in 20th. West was contesting his second race as stand-in for injury victim Karel Abraham (AB Motoracing Honda RC213V-RS).

Already crowned champion in the all-Honda Moto2 class, Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport Kalex) waited until the last of 19 laps to pounce on pole qualifier and race-long leader Thomas Luthi (Derendinger Racing Interwetten Kalex). The French winner had saved enough of his tires in the blazing heat to draw more than half a second clear at the checkered flag.

It was win number eight for the rider who has dominated the middle category, where all riders use race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines supplied by the organisers.

Australian Grand Prix winner Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) had been trailing the pair in third until half distance, at the same time fending off a determined Jonas Folger (AGR Team Kalex). Then the star rookie, who took over second in the standings from absent defending champion Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), pushed too hard and crashed out.

This left a lonely third to Folger, who already has two wins this year, and one other podium finish.

Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Kalex) emerged victorious in a strong battle for fourth; eventually outpacing Italian teenager Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Kalex).

More than five seconds behind, Luis Salom (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) had a strong race, coming through from 13th in the early laps to sixth. His last victim, less than half a second behind, had been former Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex). Malaysian star Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex) dropped back from this group for ninth, having caught and passed German GP winner Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex)

A furious Moto3 race saw the final result in doubt until the flag, with positions changing corner by corner, and seven riders over the line almost abreast, within just over half a second. It also saw kept alive a championship battle that many expected to have been over some races ago, as long-time points leader Danny Kent (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) found himself shuffled to the back of that group.

Team-mates Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder (KTM) played tactics to close out the top two positions, pushing Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) to third. It was the class rookie’s third podium finish of his first season, all in the last four races.

Double race winner Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250RW), who had also led, was a close fourth.

Enea Bastianini (Junior Team Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) was eighth, a little way behind Kent and narrowly ahead of Alexis Masbou (SaxoPrint RTG Honda NSF250RW). John McPhee (SaxoPrint RTG Honda NSF250RW) was only three seconds behind his team-mate, making a total of six Hondas in the top ten of this ultra-competitive class.

Kent’s lead over Oliveira is now 24 points, with one race – offering 25 points for a win – still remaining.

That season finale takes place at Valencia, Spain, on November 8, where both MotoGP and Moto3 titles will be decided.

Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa
Cal Crutchlow
Cal Crutchlow

Honda MotoGP Rider Quotes

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team: 1st
“I am very happy because it was a very nice Grand Prix! We had a good feeling from Friday, we were able to manage the weekend well and above all we had a bike that worked very well during every practice. The setup we used at this circuit in February during testing helped me a lot and I’m very happy to take this win for my team, who have been behind me all the way. I am especially pleased to finish the season very positively, as it has been a hard year but we are now recovering well and we’re in good form. Australia is always the hardest race of the year for me, but that turned out fine and I’m really glad we completed the flyaways like this.”
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team: DNF
“We were having a good race up until the incident. At the beginning I made a mistake, but then I regained confidence. Valentino overtook me, I followed him for half a lap, and I saw that I could go faster than him, so I tried to overtake him back. We started a fight between us and I always passed without making any contact with him. At Turn 14 he passed me on the inside, I sat the bike up, he kept going straight ahead and I saw him looking at me. I didn’t know what to do. Then he kicked out at me, knocking my brake lever, and I crashed. I will leave the sanction in the hands of Race Direction. All I know is that I scored zero points and ended up in the gravel, but thankfully I’m fine. Both what Valentino said to Race Direction and what he did on the track has made me disappointed. I’ve never seen anything like it: a rider kicking another rider. It might be down to nerves, but I want to try to forget about all this and the important thing is that I’m fine physically. I hope, for the sake of the sport that this ends here.”
Cal Crutchlow, LCR: 5th
“Obviously we all felt the heat was more today. More for the bike than myself. I felt physically fine but I had a problem with the front brake. I had a strange feeling with the front lever especially when I caught Dovizioso. I couldn’t then keep consistent brake pressure. I never had the best rear grip, or the best front grip for that matter. I could have managed that, and I’m disappointed not to have beaten Bradley [Smith]. We should have done that for sure. You saw my pace at the start of the race: I was able to catch Dovi easily and pass him. I never like to take anyone out. I’ve had it done to me before and I went to apologize to Dovi straight after the race.”
Scott Redding, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 11th
“It was a hard race because I was struggling with front grip from the start. I was trying to push to stay on the back of the group ahead of me, but I kept closing the front, and if the rear had grip it was pushing the front as well. I was also struggling to stop the bike in the slower corners because the front was sliding and I lost contact. That made it harder because I was alone for most of the race. But, the fact that we finished is a big positive. I used to struggle here in Sepang, but to have no real problems with the heat and humidity today is good for my confidence. A tough race and one in which I was happy to see the checkered flag.”
Nicky Hayden, Aspar Team: 16th
“Another 16th! I don’t know how many of those I’ve had this year but way too many. I expected a little something better today. I got an okay start, got roughed up a little on the first lap, which was my fault, and then I started picking some guys off. I felt like I was on the limit on the front but I was making some passes and doing some decent lap times. Then I had one big moment on the front and then another one and eventually I had to slow down or else there was no way I was going to finish. Some of the guys came back past me and it was heart-breaking to see them get away. As the fuel load went down over the last three laps I was able to do some decent lap times again and get back in front of Jack [Miller] and pull a little gap on him. Unfortunately the gap to the rest was already too big to make up.”
Jack Miller, LCR: 17th
“It was a difficult race. We had problems with front and rear grip throughout and by the end I had no rear grip left. I was in a bit of a battle with Nicky but he got the better of me at the end. I’m disappointed. I thought I could have collected some points today. There have been positives this weekend. I continued to try and work on my style. I’m getting used to riding this bike more and more but I still have some way to go. The heat was a killer and track conditions didn’t help us today.”
Eugene Laverty, Aspar Team: 19th
“To be honest I thought I could be racing in the 2’03s today but there was no grip, we were on ice out there. I could see Nicky and Jack ahead of me and the gap to them stayed consistent but I’d lost so much in the early laps I couldn’t get back to them. I am disappointed. So far this weekend in the cooler conditions in the morning the other guys have been fast, and then in the afternoon heat I have been faster. Unfortunately the track conditions today were completely different to the past two days and I didn’t have the same feeling at all.”
Anthony West, AB Motoracing: 20th
Even without this heat the track is long and physical. The heat makes it twice at hard. I was having to take my foot off the peg during the race because the heat was so extreme. The brakes were overheating a bit. I didn’t feel it until warm-up this morning. Up until then the brakes had felt really good. On the second lap they got worse and I overshot and missed a corner. Originally I thought it was the engine braking. I tried to keep up but was overshooting the turns everywhere. I had to change my braking points everywhere and then I found my pace, started picking it back up and by the end I was matching the pace of Laverty and some of the other ‘Open’ Hondas. So it was good but the first laps destroyed my race.”

Honda Moto2 Rider Quotes

Johann Zarco, Ajo Motorsport: 1st
“From the beginning I felt good, but Luthi was even better. What I did was try to follow him as best I could; things were a little different than I thought, so I tried to stay calm and not even look back because I had a very good pace. I figured that if I stuck to him it would be the two of us fighting for first and second place – and that was how it ended up. From the middle of the race I saw that he was faster than me; but at the end I was able to catch him and on the last lap I tried to overtake him to finally cross the line first. This latest win is fantastic, and I am very happy. It has been a very long three weeks and it’s been hard mentally and physically.”
Thomas Luthi, Derendinger Racing Interwetten: 2nd
“I knew Johann was there all the race. It was maybe one of the toughest races in my life because the pressure from Johann was so big. When he passed me I saw that he had better drive coming out of the corners but I tried to get by him immediately to lead again and make a break. It didn’t work out and I knew third place was far away already so I tried to stay focused and concentrated all the way through, but it was really tough. I knew if it was hard for me it would also be hard for Johann. I didn’t have the drive, it was just a little bit less. I pushed too much in the middle of the race and I didn’t have enough tire at the end.”
Jonas Folger, AGR Team: 3rd
“I’m happy with a consistent weekend. It was the toughest race of all. I was tired even before the race started. I’m just happy to finish, especially on the podium. Today was quite good in the beginning. Alex [Rins] was just ahead of me and I tried to stay behind. I didn’t expect him to crash. Then when he did I had no one in front so it was hard to keep the concentration to keep Nakagami and the other guys behind me.”

Honda Moto3 Rider Quotes

Jorge Navarro, Estrella Galicia 0,0: 3rd
“Today’s race was chaotic and very difficult from beginning to the end, because there were many riders in the first group and it was hard to stay at the front. With the smallest mistake, you lost three or four places at once. I managed things well in every moment of the race. It was a shame that I was passed by Brad [Binder] and Miguel [Oliveira] at the last moment because I reached the end with the tires in good enough condition to push hard; however, I am very happy with the race I had. I think the whole Estrella Galicia 0,0 team have worked well throughout the weekend, in which we have always taken steps forward and, like every Sunday, come out ready to fight for the victory. I am pleased with our progress at the flyaway rounds.”
Niccolo Antonelli, Ongetta-Rivacold: 4th
“The race was crazy but in these conditions it was so hard. I was very tired. I think it’s the same for the other riders. I’m happy, but I wanted to be on the podium and if I was I would be much happier. In the race I go first, but I was tired and not very concentrated. I did a mistake. But, no problem, I don’t think it’s where I lost the race. We did good work this weekend and now I’m two points from Fenati in the championship so in Valencia we have to try and take this position.”
Danny Kent, Leopard Racing: 7th
“Well, apart from this frustrating outcome of the weekend it was a very difficult race, as we lost the front group straight off the line and it took a while to catch them again. However, as soon as I was racing amongst the front group it was clearly to see that our bike was too slow, I wasn’t able to pass anyone out of the slipstream. I was well aware that if I will finish the race in fifth place everything is on the safe side. However, to do so it would have been necessary that one of the riders of the front group should mistake, because at this track you win the race just in the last sector due to the two long straights here. So we now go to Valencia where we need to score two points if Oliveira wins again there. For sure it’s frustrating again; as we would like to have won the championship here. But it all comes to the finale in Valencia now.”
Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2015
Round 17: Malaysia Race
MotoGP Class
Rank Rider (Team) F/O
1 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team) F
2 Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) F
3 Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) F
4 Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) F
5 Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda) F
6 Danilo PETRUCCI (Pramac Racing) F
7 Aleix ESPARGARO (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR MotoGP) F
8 Maverick VIÑALES (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR MotoGP) F
9 Pol ESPARGARO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) F
10 Stefan BRADL (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) F
11 Scott REDDING (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) F
12 Yonny HERNANDEZ (Pramac Racing) F
13 Hector BARBERA (Avintia Racing) O
14 Toni ELIAS (Forward Racing) O
15 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) F

* F=Factory option, O=Open category

Moto2 Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Johann ZARCO (Ajo Motorsport)
2 Thomas LUTHI (Derendinger Racing Interwetten)
3 Jonas FOLGER (AGR Team)
4 Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)
5 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Forward Racing)
6 Luis SALOM (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)
7 Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)
8 Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)
9 Simone CORSI (Forward Racing)
10 Xavier SIMEON (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)
11 Axel PONS (AGR Team)
12 Mika KALLIO (QMMF Racing Team)
13 Sam LOWES (Speed Up Racing)
14 Ricard CARDUS (JPMoto Malaysia)
15 Franco MORBIDELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)
Moto3 Class

Rank Rider (Team)
1 Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
2 Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
3 Jorge NAVARRO (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
4 Niccolò ANTONELLI (Ongetta-Rivacold)
5 Romano FENATI (SKY Racing Team VR46)
6 Jakub KORNFEIL (Drive M7 SIC)
7 Danny KENT (Leopard Racing)
8 Enea BASTIANINI (Gresini Racing Team Moto3)
9 Alexis MASBOU (SaxoPrint RTG)
10 John MCPHEE (SaxoPrint RTG)
11 Jules DANILO (Ongetta-Rivacold)
12 Jorge MARTIN (MAPFRE Team MAHINDRA)
13 Stefano MANZI (San Carlo Team Italia)
14 Isaac VIÑALES (RBA Racing Team)
15 Philipp OETTL (Schedl GP Racing)
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