Valentino Rossi Backs Sepang Stoppage

October 22, 2012
Scott Mathews
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Valentino Rossi took fifth in Sepang after race officials stopped the race due to unsafe weather conditions.
Valentino Rossi took fifth in Sepang after race officials stopped the race due to unsafe weather conditions.

Valentino Rossi said the storm-lashed Malaysian Grand Prix was red flagged at the right time after he finished in a somewhat disappointing fifth place at Sepang. The Italian said the decision to red flag the race with seven laps remaining was correct with conditions getting rapidly worse.

Aquaplaning and a lack of visibility were the two main issues and despite a lengthy wait to see if conditions improved, a scheduled restart over seven laps was aborted and Dani Pedrosa was declared the winner for the fifth time in the last six races.

Rossi, who slipped out of podium contention when he lost five seconds after nearly crashing out at Turn 7 on Lap 9, said: “This was the correct time to stop the race because there was a lot of rain and especially too much water on the track. The bikes were aquaplaning and spinning on the straight a lot. You can crash every corner with this aquaplaning. For me it was too dangerous and the right time to stop the race.”

Rossi said the risk of running the race at 4 p.m. local time meant it was harder to restart the race. Sunday’s race started at 4 p.m. to help European TV networks, with the race scheduled to go out at 10 a.m. in the morning in Spain and Italy. But Sepang is often prone to being struck by heavy late afternoon thunderstorms and the later start time puts the race more at risk of being hampered by the weather.

If the MotoGP race had got underway at its usual start time of 2 p.m., it would have been rain-hit with only the Moto3 race, which kicked off at 1 p.m., not disrupted by torrential rain.

Rossi added: “The only mistake is to have the race at 4 p.m. in Malaysia. The risk is too big that you have to stop the race like this. If you start at 2 or 3 p.m. you can have more window to restart the race or wait for better conditions.”

Valentino Rossi at Sepang before race officials called off the contest due to unsafe weather.
The MotoGP race was moved to 4 p.m. to help European TV networks, but late afternoon rains are typical at Sepang and the shift in time put the race at risk of bad weather.

Hopes that the rain would inspire Rossi to a repeat of his brilliant second in a rain-hit French Grand Prix at Le Mans didn’t materialize as he struggled with a visor fogging and lack of grip in the fast corners.

He added: “Our race wasn’t bad because I got a great start despite being so far back and then I managed to be pretty fast. I was riding with Dovizioso and Stoner, when unfortunately I started having some problems with my visor fogging, and in those extreme conditions, with low light and a lot of water, it was very difficult.”

Valentino Rossi’s Crew to Return in 2013

Yamaha confirmed at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia that all of Rossi’s technical crew, led by Australian chief engineer Jerry Burgess, will be back with the Japanese factory next season. In a move widely expected since Rossi confirmed his return to Yamaha in the summer break back in August, the 33-year-old’s crew all signed two-year deals to move back to Yamaha with the Italian during the previous Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi. Rossi left Yamaha with all of his crew at the end of 2010 to embark on a disastrous two-year spell with Ducati.

Burgess and five of Rossi’s crew will return to Yamaha and all have been released by Ducati to work with the nine-time world champion when he makes his much anticipated return to Yamaha at a two-day test session immediately after the final race in Valencia. All but one of Rossi’s current garage crew have been with him since he joined MotoGP back in 2000 in which time he won seven world titles.

Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis said: “We will take back the full group of mechanics, so I can confirm that JB, Alex (Briggs), Brent (Stephens), Bernie (Ansiau), Gary (Coleman) and Matteo (Flamigni) will all be returning to us and they will begin their work with us at the Valencia test.”

Jarvis said Yamaha had not insisted on keeping any of the crew currently working with Ben Spies, who will join the Pramac Ducati squad next season.

He added: “These are not Honda staff joining Yamaha. These are Yamaha guys that went to Ducati. I guess you call it a two-year sabbatical. We don’t need any continuity because Valentino’s crew know the M1 very well and they know Yamaha and all of our systems, so it is very easy for us to take them back into our garage. I am sorry for some of the crew that have to leave us because we have simply run out of jobs. We have some really great people in Ben’s crew and some of them I understand will follow him. I am really sorry we can’t maintain those guys but unfortunately the trend in the paddock has been for a rider to take his entire crew when he moves.”

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