Lorenzo Escapes Title Disaster at Sepang

October 22, 2012
Scott Mathews
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There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Jorge Lorenzo almost went down just before officials called off the race at Sepang.
Jorge Lorenzo had a near-crash just moments before race officials red flagged the MotoGP race at Sepang.

Jorge Lorenzo admitted he got out of jail after he almost threw away 20 precious points in a rain-lashed Sepang MotoGP race. Just moments before the scheduled 20-lap race was red flagged on Lap 14 as torrential rain battered the Sepang track, Lorenzo had survived a massive fright when he lost the front of his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine at the final turn.

Had the Spaniard tumbled off into the gravel, he would be traveling to this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix with just a three-point lead over in-form title rival Dani Pedrosa, who enjoyed a major career breakthrough to win the first wet race of his career.

Lorenzo though will take to the track in Phillip Island with a cushion of 23 points and if he were to win this Australian race, then he will become a double MotoGP world champion. Lorenzo says he has been riding as hard as possible to achieve the best result without letting thoughts of the championship occupy his mind too much.

“All I can do is be as fast as possible with this bike,” said the Factory Yamaha ace. “In these conditions the other Yamahas struggle a lot but I kept focused and this second place is very good for us. I have pressure but it would be more if Dani was only three points behind or even in front. If I crash in Australia the situation changes but I hope not to crash and get on the podium again.”

Lorenzo said the timing of the red flag to stop yesterday’s race was correct, though many felt his arm waving to signal he wanted it halted put unnecessary pressure on Race Direction to act.

He added: “I think it was the right time to stop the race, or maybe one corner before as this would have been better for my health. It was very difficult and when it started raining I didn’t feel very safe because I have a lot to lose and not so much to win. But I tried to be very focused from the first corner. When I couldn’t change my rear (soft) tire on the grid I thought it was going to be a tough race for us. But I tried to be very smooth with the throttle and save the tire as much as possible. But Dani with the hard tire in the middle of the race, he had an advantage and he started to be much faster than me. I couldn’t follow him with the rear starting to slide and when it started to rain a lot I struggled so much. I almost crash in the last corner and I was very lucky to finish second.”

Cal Crutchlow crashed out in the wet race at Sepang.
Cal Crutchlow crashed out of the race at Sepang while running in fifth-place, saying later that “in the rain I didn’t have anywhere near enough grip.”

Cal Crutchlow Loses More Ground in Hunt for Fifth

Fifth-place in the overall MotoGP world championship standings slipped further out of Cal Crutchlow’s reach yesterday after he tumbled out of a rain-soaked Sepang race in Malaysia while battling inside the top six. A fourth DNF in the last six races has seen Crutchlow fall 19 points behind Alvaro Bautista in fifth place in the rankings.

The British rider was looking to bounce back from the bitter disappointment of running out of fuel while battling for the podium on the last lap in Japan the previous weekend. And he was running in a strong fifth position when he was one of several riders to succumb to appalling conditions at the Sepang International Circuit.

After making a tentative start that saw him lose five places on the opening lap, the 26-year-old brilliantly fought back into fifth when he crashed out in treacherous conditions at the final corner on lap 11.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider later said: “Obviously it is another big blow for the championship and it is very disappointing not to finish. The last thing I needed was another DNF, especially when I was in front of Alvaro and Valentino (Rossi) because I’d have picked up a few points back. I was confident for the race in the dry because we made a big step, even if the lap time didn’t show it. But in the rain I didn’t have anywhere near enough grip. I was a bit cautious at the start because after what happened in Japan I didn’t want to throw away another load of points. I wanted to build up thinking the tire was cold but in the end I just had zero grip. After the crash I stood at the corner and watched for a couple of laps and the grip Jorge (Lorenzo) had compared to us was unbelievable. We ran the soft like he did but I was having moments everywhere. Off throttle were the worst moments because you are not in control of the bike and it is like riding on ice. At the end of the day though the mistake was mine but I don’t think I deserve to be in the position I am in the championship. I ran out of fuel in Japan, which was really bad luck, and my pace is a lot better than my position suggests.”

The 2009 World Supersport champion said his crash came because he was having to push harder on the brakes to make up for the time lost with a lack of rear grip on corner exit.

He added: “I had to make up all my time on the brakes and I was pushing and got caught out. When I crashed the rain had really started to fall heavily and I was braking upright. I must have hit some standing water but I was down with no chance to save it.”

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