The next two weekends, with the Malaysian and Comunitat Valenciana GPs, will bring the curtain down on the 2008 season The 2008 season is coming to a close and it will do so without practically any rest. If it was Australia" turn two weeks ago...
The next two weekends, with the Malaysian and Comunitat Valenciana GPs, will bring the curtain down on the 2008 season
The 2008 season is coming to a close and it will do so without practically any rest. If it was Australia" turn two weeks ago and Japan" three weks ago the World Championship says farewell to Asia this weekend with a race in Malaysia.
Sepang hosts the penultimate round of the season this Sunday and the race is well-known for its tough nature owing to the very high temperatures and the high levels of humidity. This makes the race into a test of endurance, very demanding for the riders physical condition as well as affecting the reliability of the engines. After the cold and rain in Australia comes the suffocating storms of Malaysia.
In MotoGP the two Repsol Honda Team riders go to Malaysia eager to fight for a podium finish after their differing results in Australia -- Nicky Hayden third, and a fall for Dani Pedrosa on the second corner and on the first lap. Sepang, a circuit that is well-known by the two riders -- the Repsol Honda Team frequently goes to this track to train -- does not bring back good memories for Pedrosa because in the latest pre-season he fell, to be exact on 22nd January, and he damaged his right hand. However, the young Repsol rider accepts that he made a mistake in Australia and hopes that he can reward his team and fans with a good performance in Sepang, in spite of still being in pain after the fall in Australia - his right knee is a bit swollen.
Nicky Hayden, optimistic after his third place in Australia, hopes to maintain the progress that he has made in the last few races and so be in the fight with the race leaders. The American in the Repsol Honda Team knows this circuit very well and likes it, and he has confirmed that he wants to end the season on a high, with two good results and so bring a happy end to 2008.
In 250cc Julian Simon, after getting two fourth place finishes in the last two races, will once again be out to try and get a podium finish this season, something he has not been able to do so far. His visible improvement in the last two races means that the Team Repsol KTM 250cc can be optimistic in Sepang, a circuit he likes. Marc Marquez has another circuit to get to know this weekend, one that is a complete unknown for him, and his teammate Rabat has another chance to complement the good performance he put in in Australia, where after being in an intense battle with his teammate and other riders, in the end finished seventh.
Dani Pedrosa >>
"We were not so lucky at Phillip Island, sometimes you have some bad luck in racing, but already we are looking forward to Malaysia where I am determined to make up for the mistake I made in the last race. I had a very good feeling at Sepang in pre-season testing before the crash.
I had a good pace from the beginning and I hope to start this weekend in the best way with the new bike and tyres. I've got still some pain from the accident, my left knee is a bit swollen, but I hope I will soon be in perfect condition. The circuit of Sepang is an interesting track. It is quite long with a good combination of right-handers and left-handers, many of which are quite long. The motorcycle needs tyres of a tough compound for this race, and tyres play a very important role in the heat. Both the front and rear tyres are of a similar compound because they both have to work very hard: there is a lot of heavy braking at Sepang, which asks a lot of the front end, and there is a lot of hard acceleration, which affects the rear. The track has a lot of different corners and sections, so the riding style you use is quite varied. It is a physically demanding track because of the heat. Compared with many of the other places we go to, you don't get such a big crowd there and so this race doesn't usually have a lot of atmosphere."
Nicky Hayden >>
"The last few races have been a lot of fun and made me pretty happy. We need more, but it's nice to be competitive. I owe a big thanks to everyone involved -- Honda, Michelin and all the guys from Yamano [Repsol Honda team manager] all the way through, because it would have been real easy to fold up on me, but the easy way is just not our style. Just need to keep it rolling!
No one can say they say they don't know Sepang, it seems like we spend half the year there. Last year we did three tests and a race there, so the nearby airport hotel is like your second home. We spend about four weeks a year there, so you walk in and it's scary because the people know you! Sepang is a great track. I like it, our bike has been running good, and you need a bike that's running fast there. The track has got a little bit of everything: some hard braking, some pretty quick corners like turns five and six. I think that's why we test there so much, you can't fake it there because both the bike and the rider have got to be able to do everything pretty good."
Julian Simon >>
"Sepang is a circuit that I like a lot, and there I have put in some great races. Both last year as well as in the previous year when I rode well getting close to a podium finish. In 2007 I was 6th, not far behind the leading riders.
This is a circuit I have good memories of. And I think that KTM has good potential there. Last year Hiroshi Aoyama won the race and Kallio was close behind him. After two races where we have done things better than in the previous ones we will be more confident. We know how to set things up so they go well, and we will be working hard to get that podium finish that we aiming at in the final two races."
Esteve Rabat >>
"This race will be quite difficult because in Malaysia it is very hot and that not only affects us physically, it also affects the bike as it suffers a lot more, above all the engine but also the tyres.
And there are two long straights that do not help us, but on the other hand the rest of the circuit compensates for that, as it is quite twisty. The corners are fast ones and I like them but once we are there we will see where in fact we really are. I think that it will be a complicated weekend, but we will make a special effort to find the right set up as quickly as possible so that we can finish as close to the leaders as we can. I can't wait to get going and I think I am well prepared to have a good one this weekend."
Marc Marquez >>
"I was able to see last year" race and I realised that the Circuit of Sepang is one where you have to string a lot of corners together one after the other.
And there are two long straights where you need a good engine, but from what I have been told the big problem is the heat. Once we are there we will see how well I get used to that and what the circuit is like on a bike. I can't wait to race there because at the moment I have a good feeling with the bike. I personally am looking forward to it and the season is coming to an end so I will have to do things well."