Moto GP Roundup: Sepang

In the sweltering heat of a Malaysian race day, all the people were avoiding contact with direct sunlight for fear of either melting or spontaneous combustion. All the normal humans, at least. As for the leather-clad superbeings, they threw the sun a middle finger, and raced through the heat.

By: The Karr Report.


If the Moto3 race was anything to go by, we were in for one insane Sunday.

Initially, the leading pack was fifteen riders deep and, at times, almost as wide. Riders kept their crews awake by attempting to snatch the pit boards on their way down the main straight.

On Lap Four, Fenati became the first faller. The Italian walked off, lowered head shaking at his own misfortune.

But, oh, the upset of Lap Five! 

While the pack were navigating Turn Four, Alonso quite unexpectedly found himself on a rabid motorcycle, which very quickly shook off its rider before falling over mid-pack. Riders went flying in a four-bike bodyslam, some had to resort to grass-tracking in order to avoid the impromptu moshpit, and those unlucky enough to get stuck in it were swept from the race in a muddle of bikes and riders.

It was something of a crash fest...

Apart from Alonso, his fellow Championship hopeful Holgado was taken down in the chaos, along with Moreira and Rossi. Miraculously, nobody suffered severe injuries. Unless you count the damage to Alonso’s and Holgado’s title hopes.

In the background of the feature crash, Furusato’s bike got such a fright witnessing what was happening ahead, that it suffered a stroke. Furusato temporarily levitated above his spinning, horizontal bike, before gravity kicked in and brought him back down.

We almost saw more controversy on the sixth lap, when Masiá tried to dive past Muñoz, resulting in some rear-on-front rubber rubbing. 

How Muñoz saved the resultant Death Slide is anybody’s guess.

Toba fell off at Turn Eight during Lap Twelve. Azman did the same, but at Turn Twelve; the local boy managed to remount, at least.

Not enough drama for you? Alright, let’s have Rueda lose control while overtaking Bertelle, and then sweep his teammate Öncü off the track like a massive KTM branded broom.

Both KTM boys managed to get up and remount in record speed, Öncü doing so with such smoothness and rapidity he should be getting an award for it. We’ll make one up for him. Rapidest Recovery Remount After Teammate Wipes You Out Award goes to Deniz.

(We suggest Rueda avoid the other side of the garage at all costs for the remainder of the weekend, and have a giant cake delivered with ‘SORRY’ emblazoned across it in pearlescent rainbow angel’s tears.)

Veijer is the first the first Dutch rider to take a MotoGP win since 1990, when one Hans Spaan won the Czech Grand Prix.

All the controversies contravened, it now seems the Championship race will be between Masiá and Sasaki, with all their closest contenders being bludgeoned out of contention.

Speaking of: Veijer, Sasaki and Masiá were having a right brawl at the far end of the race, all the crashing having separated them from the rest of the pack. The Husky teammates swapped the lead a few times during the last laps, but what Sasaki hadn’t expected was Veijer coming past him like a freight train to hell on the final lap. 

He even admitted this post-race. Commentators, repeatedly: ‘Surely Veijer is going to pull Sasaki to the final turn, then let him through for the win. Team tactics!’

Nobody told Veijer that. We’re utterly grateful they hadn’t, because forcing someone to relinquish his first-ever victory for the sake of his teammate’s Championship would’ve been cruel indeed.

Veijer kept his lead, Veijer took his first Moto3 victory, and Veijer was beside himself – and nearly his bike, too – the moment he’d crossed the line. 

He is the first Dutch rider to take a MotoGP win since 1990, when one Hans Spaan won the Czech Grand Prix. 

Well done, kid!

Sasaki looked a tad miffed at being second, but had the maturity to congratulate his teammate on his win, and not directly moan about him not letting him past. Alluding to his slight miffness, maybe. Some riders we know would’ve made quite the scene. At least one rider’s name immediately popped into your head there, didn’t it? Who was it?

In third place, a grumpy Masiá came over the line.


The only class with a runaway leader in the Championship at this stage, the KTM Ajo folks were already setting the celebratory dinner tables and chilling the champagne before the race even started. 

But more on that later.

As expected, Canet was given a Long Lap Penalty for crashing under yellow flags in Qualifying.

González was bonked off his wheels between Turns One and Two, making contact with Aldeguer who’d been busy passing him. Naturally González had some arm flailing to do at Fermín, but one would expect that getting TF out of the way of oncoming bikes would’ve been a bit more of a priority at that point.

His bike tried to kamikaze a few others by returning to the circuit mid-Turn Two, but the tide of motorcycles parted around it like the Red Sea, not even one of them getting caught by the sliding machine.

Worth a mention, too, was Arbolino’s amazing avoidance skills as he snaked his way through the freshly-crashed González and his bike like a real pro.

González did initially rejoin, only to pull into the pits by Lap Seven.

Local Wildcard Anuar’s maiden Moto2 race lasted an entire lap before he dropped it at the final turn. In his defence, he rejoined and continued riding until a second crash somewhere along the tenth lap finally did him in.

Arbolino’s slim championship hopes were further marred when he got sandwiched between too many other bikes into Turn Two, on Lap Two, and got pinballed onto the grass. There, he made half-a-doughnut before managing to return to racing.

Somewhere along Lap Two, we lost Tulovic, too.

Something sus was going on at Turn Nine: 

Two near-identical double-crashes occurred there, one on Lap Three and one on Lap Five. The former involved Vietti, who slid off on his own first. He was still grabbing his glove that’d somehow peeled off when, behind him, Guevara and his bike came sailing by. Guevara took a confused moment to lie on the tarmac, watching his bike slide away.

The second incident was basically a carbon copy of the Vietti-Guevara crashes: García was the first to slide off this time, and instead of hunting loose clothing, he was slapping his bike when Nozane came scooting past behind him. 

Glitch in the Matrix this.

Big wheelie from Aldeguer

Not long after serving his Long Lap, Canet plopped down at Turn Two. He threw up his hands in frustration at his obviously questionable luck. 

What happened at the sharp end of the action, you ask? 

In short, Aldeguer booked his flight, and checked out. It took him three laps to pull out a two-second lead, a lead that kept growing like a teenager on a growth spurt: by the final lap, it was over eight seconds.

It was a podium overflowing with exuberant celebrations. First, Aldeguer came across the finish line near-vertical on his rear wheel, so far ahead of the rest that he had time for a snack and a cold one before the rest arrived.

Acosta eventually cruised in to take second in the race, officially becoming the youngest Moto2 World Champion since Dani Pedrosa. 

We’ve never seen the kid that emotional, not even when he’d won his Moto3 Championship.

Ramírez fought hard to hold on to third, his first-ever Moto2 podium finish.

Let the celebrations commence! Acosta almost seemed subdued by his achievement, at times looking like he was going to start bawling his eyes out. But the customary gilded helmet was handed to him by a suspicious-looking shark, after he had a quick walk down a literal memory lane, and it was Real: Pedro Acosta has become one of an elite group of racers to have won both Moto3 and Moto2 Championships. Well done, Shark Boy.


Ten out of ten for post-helmeting burnout; five out of ten for that launch from said burnout.


In comparison to the two races prior, the GP race was kind of… vanilla.

Mir earned his team the questionable honour of a half-century in crashes for the season when he toppled over on Lap Five, going through Turn Four. Not too sure whether that’s an achievement that Repsol Honda was keen on…

On Lap Six, Oliveira became the first Aprilia man down, finding himself on the grass next to the infamous Turn Nine.

An invasion of technical gremlins forced Raúl Fernández to park his bike on the seventh lap.

Rounding off a trio of Aprilia woes, Aleix slid off at Turn Nine, earning the Sparky Award.

Brad toppled off at the tenth turn during Lap Twelve, trudging off through the gravel.

Turn Nine kept up its bloodthirsty tendencies, pulling Nakagami’s bike away from the curb as though a giant magnet had been planted on the outside of the track.

Meanwhile, Bastianini had run away with the lead in a most impressive fashion. Apparently, upon seeing that his Ducati seat for next year wasn’t a done deal, something was set on fire within Enea. 

We approve of this kick-in-the-nads approach to waking up a stagnant rider.

Bastia took his first win of the season, which happened to be his first win for the factory Ducati team. Sprint-winner Márquez (Álex, obviously) claimed a relaxed second, and Bagnaia pulled over ten seconds out of Martín in order to take the third podium spot.

There are two weekends left of the season; with both the Moto3 and MotoGP Championships still fully in play, they’re going to be two nail-destroying, heart-failure-inducing weekends!

~ Karr

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