Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso come into this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix in bullish mood, each confident of a strong result in the penultimate race of the 2009 season. Both riders finished on the podium at Sepang last year -...
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso come into this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix in bullish mood, each confident of a strong result in the penultimate race of the 2009 season. Both riders finished on the podium at Sepang last year - with Pedrosa in second place and Dovizioso in third - and they will be happy with nothing less than a repeat performance in Sunday's 21-lap race.
Pedrosa has an impressive record at Sepang. In eight races since 2001, he has been off the podium only twice. He was fourth in the 125cc race in his debut Grand Prix season in 2001, and won in the 125cc class in 2003 and again in the 250cc class in 2004. With three MotoGP podiums to his name at Sepang, the 24-year-old Spaniard is looking to add victory at the 5.548km (3.447-mile) circuit to his CV this weekend.
Dovizioso rates Sepang as one of his favourite circuits and arrives ready to put a difficult weekend in Australia behind him. Having shrugged off the upset stomach that hindered him at Phillip Island, the 23-year-old Italian will be looking to build on the confidence he gained during the Australian Grand Prix, where his race pace merited more than his eventual sixth position. Like his team-mate, Dovizioso has visited the podium at Sepang on Honda machinery in all three Grand Prix classes and will be determined to score another top three this weekend.
The Sepang circuit is very familiar to MotoGP riders and teams due to its status as a regular winter testing venue. The combination of tight corners, long straights and challenging, high-speed bends makes it a fine test of race machinery and riding skill. Just as familiar are the weather patterns at the venue, which lies 50km (31 miles) from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Wilting heat, oppressive humidity and torrential tropical rain showers in the afternoon are a common combination at Sepang and, with that in mind, the Repsol Honda Team will be ready for anything when practice begins on Friday afternoon at 13.55 local time (GMT +8 hours).
DANI PEDROSA -- World Championship position: 4th -- 189 points
"Sepang is a good circuit and I always look forward to this race. I've won here previously with Honda in the 125 and 250 classes, and I'd really like to add a MotoGP win to those victories. It could be tough because we know how fast our rivals have been recently, but still, the win is what we'll be aiming for as always - and also to challenge Casey for third in the championship. The track has a fast and challenging layout - plus the hot, humid conditions we encounter here always mean this is a physically demanding race for the riders, although we're well prepared for it. It will certainly be a big contrast to the cold weather conditions we rode in at Phillip Island last weekend. At the moment we are looking to improve the stability of our machine and it's important that from the first moments of practice we use all the preparation time available to us to arrive at the best possible package for this race."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- World Championship position: 5th -- 152 points
"I really look forward to racing in Malaysia as this is my favourite track and I have good memories there. Last year I had a strong race at Sepang and scored my first podium in MotoGP on the RC212V for the Scot Honda team. I'm also confident about this weekend because, during the last part of the race in Australia, my feeling with the bike improved a lot, and if we make a good start in practice on Friday I think we can go on to be competitive in the race. As we saw in Australia, it's so important to secure a good position on the grid if you want to fight for the leading positions. Sepang is an excellent circuit and because of this I enjoy the Malaysian Grand Prix very much. It's a complete track, with a good combination of fast and slow sections, and also the circuit is wide, which lets you try different lines. With a MotoGP bike, it is really fun and it'll be great to get back out there on Friday."