Contrasting fortunes in Australia for Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo mean the defending MotoGP World Champion is primed to take the 2009 title this weekend at the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Second place at Phillip Island for Rossi combined with Lorenzo’s crash at turn one on the first lap extended the former’s lead at the top of the standings to 38 points. That means a top-four finish at Sepang this weekend – regardless of where closest title rival Lorenzo places – will secure a seventh premier-class title for the 30 year-old.
“Phillip Island was like gold dust for us in terms of points and now we go to Malaysia, another of my favourite tracks, with our first ‘match point',” said Rossi, who has five premier-class GP wins at the circuit, including last year. “Of course anything can happen but it's a great track for me and generally the Yamaha works well there so we have a good chance.”
“We worked brilliantly in Australia and we know that if we can do the same at Sepang then we can have another good weekend. There is no chance for us to relax – everyone is focused, motivated and excited now that we are at this stage, and our number one target for the weekend is to try to close out the championship. We will do our best and see where we are on Sunday night.”
At Sepang, Lorenzo will race on a track on which he secured his 250cc world title in 2007, and the Spaniard is focused on a potential second-placed MotoGP World Championship finish in only his second premier-class season.
“After the disappointment in Australia I am glad to have the chance to be back on the bike so soon. I am not hurt and I will be in good shape to race,” said the 22 year-old. “We don't think about the championship now; my target is to confirm second place in the championship and, in just my second season in MotoGP, I think that this is a great achievement and I will be happy if I can do it.”
“I like Sepang a lot, I know it well from testing and I have some great memories, especially in 2007 when I took the 250 title there. This time my team and I will just be focused on having a good weekend and getting as many points as we can in order to achieve our target.