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MotoGP riders reflect on Sepang – Jack Miller extended cut

MotoGP 2023

Round 18 – Malaysian Grand Prix
MotoGP Riders

Bastianini is the fifth different Ducati winner so far this season along with Bagnaia, Martin, Marco Bezzecchi and Johann Zarco. Ducati equals the record of the most different winners in a single premier class season from Suzuki in 1979 (with Barry Sheene, Wil Hartog, Virginio Ferrari, Dennis Ireland and Boet van Dulmen).
Enea Bastianini – P1

“It’s fantastic and emotional to get back to winning after a difficult period. Today I didn’t want anything else, I just wanted to win, I didn’t care about the rest, and I knew I could do it. In the race I pushed from the start as in qualifying, maintaining the gap, but I was totally at the limit, and couldn’t give anything more but in the end, the victory came. I think that something exploded inside me this weekend and I went back to having fun. Certainly, one of the keys is that we modified the engine braking strategy, coming into line with what we saw from Thailand. What changed also was that I am not continually making mistakes when braking, which until recently happened every lap. I’ve always said that when you get back to having fun, you also go a lot faster.”

Enea Bastianini took his fifth MotoGP win (his first since Aragon last year), all with Ducati. He is now tied in fifth place on the list of the most successful riders in MotoGP with Ducati with Martin, with two wins less than Loris Capirossi.
Alex Marquez – P2

“Maybe the only mistake I made today was that I didn’t try to make a move on Enea at the beginning, but he was really fast today. It’s been a fantastic weekend and we still miss something to make it perfect, but we still have two GPs to try again.  We’re leaving Sepang with a good feeling and we want to keep improving.”

Alex Marquez finished second for his second podium with Ducati (along with Argentina when he finished P3), and his fourth overall in MotoGP.
Alex Marquez finished second for his second podium with Ducati (along with Argentina when he finished P3), and his fourth overall in MotoGP.
Francesco Bagnaia – P3

“For sure it was very important to finish in front of my rival today. It wasn’t easy because after our battle I tried to catch the other two guys, but it was very risky because as soon as I was close to Alex, I struggled with too much tyre movement at the front, and it was better to finish the race and take the points. I’m very happy with everything, we managed to be competitive from the start of the weekend and I was in pole for the first time since Barcelona. Now we move on to Qatar which is another track where I go fast normally. There it will be the same situation and it will be important to fight back like we did today and give the maximum.”

Pecco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini
Jorge Martin – P4

“You know I’m a little bit disappointed about the result but that’s the most I could do so let’s move to Qatar and try to reset from this race. I thought I was able to recover some points today. I was feeling great at the beginning of the race, but at some point, I started to lose the front and risk a lot on the right hand corners so I have to be happy with P4. It’s not what I expected, I expected to fight for the podium or for the victory. But it is what it is so let’s move onto the next one.”

With Enea Bastianini, Alex Marquez, Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin, this is the second Ducati 1-2-3-4 in a GP race classification so far this season along with Italy.
Fabio Quartararo – P5

“I‘m happy. I had a great start and great first lap. It took us so long to overtake Jack, so we lost a lot of tyre performance because of tyre consumption. But I‘m feeling happy. I think the top 5 was the best result we could get today. Being able to fight today was a good mentality boost.”

Fabio Quartararo
Marco Bezzecchi – P6

“Not a fantastic race, but not terrible either. I started off really well, the first lap I was in P4. I tried to stay with Pecco and Jorge (Bagnaia and Martin), but I didn’t have their pace. I lost them, then I tried to push, but Fabio (Quartararo) finished really strong. Overall very good, although I was hoping for better. Full gas to Qatar now.”

Franco Morbidelli – P7

“It was a positive weekend and Race. We were able to be consistent in the Race and recover many positions. I‘m happy with the job we‘ve done this weekend, and after a strong Race I‘m even happier. Today the bike was working very well, and we were able to be fast on the straight and overtake.”

Franco Morbidelli
Jack Miller – P8

“Eighth here in Malaysia – if it feels like I always finish eighth here it’s because I nearly always do, that’s five times in the last six races here! Today’s race though, that’s a bit of a head-scratcher because it wasn’t one where I nearly ran off, did anything silly, nothing like that. Eighth was just our pace, that was where we were compared to the Ducatis, at least the three guys on Ducatis up the front anyway.

Jack Miller

“When you finish 19 seconds off the win after 20 laps, it shows you the homework we still need to do. I suspected after the Sprint that we’d have a bit more for those boys at the front on Sunday, but they could pretty much run Sprint race pace the whole Grand Prix race while we’re ending up nearly a second a lap off. Those three at the front just left, and we were left hanging around there for second-best, you could say.

Jack Miller

“It wasn’t my best race or my worst race … I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong and rode pretty solid, the pace was half-decent. I had (Ducati’s Marco) Bezzecchi in front of me and was eyeing up a move on him, but couldn’t get close enough to even attempt anything so I was kind of stuck at that pace. As the race wore on I got the front-end too hot and dropped off him, and at the end of the race the Yamahas came past, I tried to do what I could to keep them at bay but they had plenty of grip towards the end and I wasn’t able to fight.

Jack Miller

“It’s a bit further back than we wanted, but a solid weekend after Thailand for me, which is what I needed as that one was a bit of a disaster really. The steps that we made on the bike and the feeling I had with the bike was good, and I was running in the (1min) 59s in the beginning and then stayed in the two-minute range, which in any other year would be half-decent around here. Unfortunately today, we were missing around a second a lap to the three at the front.

Jack Miller

“Being back here in Malaysia was good for me as it’s the first repeat track for me on the KTM. Because we’d tested here before the season, I was keen to see how I’d get on. It’s a place I like and a place I felt confident we could do good at, plus being back on the normal rear tyre again was a positive. I always enjoy Sepang and I definitely notice the extra support around the track, it’s a nice easy event for the Aussie fans to get to, a little bit of a second home race! It’s not every race I get that feeling so it makes it more enjoyable, definitely.

Malaysian GP

“We’re getting towards the end of the season now, so it’s logical I was asked about the KTM after nearly one year on it and what it does and doesn’t do well. It’s hard to say because it does kind of everything well, you can’t say ‘it does this terrible or that terrible’ because it’s not really like that. MotoGP bikes in 2023 all do something pretty fantastic, to be honest.

Jack Miller

“I feel we’re finally understanding how to set up the electronics side of things heading into a weekend before we get on the bike a bit clearer now, so that’s a bonus being able to got into a weekend being able to set a plan up a bit easier rather than just winging it. You’re always looking for micro-tenths (of a second) at this stage of the year – braking could always be a little bit better, acceleration a little bit better, more top speed … so I’m happy with it on the whole.

Jack Miller

“There’s always things you can look to improve, tiny things, but that’s easier said than done. Understanding the front more and being able to carry some more corner speed would be nice, but it doesn’t feel like we’re miles off being able to do that.

Jack Miller

“Anyway, we’ll keep working, and I’ll try to get better as well with set-up and maximise what we can for these last two in Qatar and Valencia.”

Jack Miller
Fabio Di Giannantonio – P9

“It was a more challenging weekend than expected after the good performance shown in recent events. In any case we did a good race, we battled with the second group and brought home an important result. Next are Qatar and Valencia to try and do even better.”

Luca Marini – P10

“A very difficult race: I tried to give my all at the start, because I knew it would be the crucial moment. The acceleration wasn’t bad, then I put the second gear, the bike started to move and when the tire hit the ground I lost the front. I had to close the throttle at turn 1 and I lost a lot of positions. The speed wasn’t bad, the Top 6 was possible, but I was struggling a lot in the slipstream. I started having problems with the front tire and then the rear tire dropped. Too bad, let’s go back at work in Qatar.”

Maverick Vinales – P11

“It wasn’t a fantastic race, but it was what we could do today. By now we have figured out that, if you’re in the middle of the group, you might even have a good pace, but you aren’t able to fully express it. You have to overtake and not let anyone overtake you and manage tyre temperature – all factors that ultimately limit your overall performance. I’m looking at the positive: a race like this allowed us to collect lots of information. Maybe we won’t be able to use it straight away in Qatar, but the Aprilia engineers will certainly have a lot of data to help them in developing the 2024 bike.”

Johann Zarco – P12

“It was hard, I expected better because the Sprint had been good but there was no way to ride the bike exactly the same and it seems to me that I had a very small technical problem on the bike: the gearbox which gave me a few full angle jolts. It looked like the gears weren’t engaging properly and it was as if it was the chain that was jumping on the crown but in fact no it was in the gearbox and so we’re afraid something and it’s hard to stay focused. You’re always afraid of having a mechanical problem, it’s hard to pin down but everything comes down to so few things that it disturbed me.

“I didn’t manage to get this pace under two-minutes and I would have thought I would then get back up a little at the end but the heat, the bike slipping and this bad feeling didn’t allow me to get back into this group and finally I rode like this group. I had a good fight with Aleix, I was faster at the start but he fought well, I had difficulty tightening the corners and we lost time on the first group who were fighting for 7th or 8th place. When he fell I made sure to catch Vinales but there was no way. A long race therefore, the first satisfaction is to finish it, to take these 4 points and to return to 5th in the championship. That’s all the positives from today.

“The fight with Aleix was cool, it’s like you were fighting for a podium. Whether it’s for second place or not, the intensity in the fight remains the same and that’s pretty cool. But if I could take 37 points in Qatar I could approach Valencia a little cooler.

“It was a more difficult race than yesterday, whether it was due to having double the fuel I don’t know, it’s hard to pin down. I had the speed but I lacked ease and there I saw on the times that the pace of the first drivers was faster than in the Sprint and that’s incredible with double the fuel. The first ones really went very quickly and there was no way for me to keep up with them.”

Marc Marquez – P13

“It has been a difficult Sunday to end a complicated weekend, really it all came from Qualifying on Saturday. From 20th is always difficult and my feeling with the bike was similar to what it was in the Sprint race. Yesterday I pushed and crashed, today I managed everything and was able to at least get some points. We have another tough race coming up in Qatar where we can try and improve our situation and results. Let’s keep on going and get ready for the next one.”

Augusto Fernandez – P14

“I am not very happy about the race to be fair. Even if we are back in the points after a few difficult rounds, we had more potential than a P14. This weekend, I have been struggling more with the race pace than with the time attacks. I think that I have lost a bit of the feeling with used tyres so we will try analyzing everything well and understand how to be good on both ends the next two rounds.”

Pol Espargaro – P15

“I had quite a bit impact with Joan Mir in the first lap, lost many positions and I was last behind Bautista. I started recovering positions, with better lap times until I found myself behind my teammate Augusto Fernandez, and that was pretty much it until the end of the race. It was really hot, I feel a bit on the limit with my current physical conditions, so I look forward to heading to Qatar with potentially cooler conditions, and hopefully we will be able to enjoy the last two races of the year.”

Iker Lecuona – P16

“I’ve enjoyed the race and felt good on the bike. Of course, the main goal was to help the team and do my job, replacing the official rider. I’m quite pleased because I could fight and have fun. Many thanks to LCR; it’s always a pleasure working with them”.

Alvaro Bautista – P17

“I certainly don’t want to make excuses and in fact, that is why I have never mentioned this problem in the last few days. I didn’t even say anything to my technicians when they asked me about the reason for the difference in performance between the right and left-hand corners. It was not a matter of pain but a real lack of strength in my left arm. That’s why I will definitely do more thorough checks when I get home. It’s a pity because I was convinced I could definitely do better. Anyway, I’m happy about this experience and I thank Ducati and once again for allowing me to ride the Desmosedici GP again”.

Alvaro Bautista
Takaaki Nakagami – P18

“It’s been a difficult race; we are still looking for a solution because I didn’t feel good with the rear tyre, and I felt a drop in its performance. I lost the front and crashed, which jeopardised the plans. We are not giving up and will push to improve in Qatar next week”.

Brad Binder – DNF

“I had a good warm-up session and felt really good but then just struggled in the race. It was hard to stop the bike and if I carried any corner speed then the front end would wash. It was a fight to stay clean and to try and pick guys off. Unfortunately, I just washed-out in Turn 11 and there is not much more to say. We tried a few different things for the race today and with the heat and the grip level they didn’t really work. Lessons learned for Qatar and moving forward.”

Brad Binder
Aleix Espargaro – DNF

“A weekend to forget, without a doubt. In the warm-up session, we tried a very different setup on the bike and, to be honest, I was fast but I realised straight away that I was closer to the limit with the front end. The most difficult thing to accept is not so much the crash – these things can happen – but rather the gap we had behind the leaders. When I crashed on turn nine I was twelfth, without the pace to even think about a serious comeback. We need to think about this and find a solution to get back to being competitive.”

Miguel Oliveira – DNF

“Unfortunately I crashed in turn nine, I lost the front there a bit early than what I would normally feel as a limit on the front locking. We saw the data, there’s nothing that can really justify the crash. The only thing that came to mind is I touched with Raul a little bit in turn one and I broke the wing on the left side. It was completely off, so it created some imbalance and some difficulties to stop the bike. On the track we knew we had a hard race ahead of us, it was difficult or nearly impossible to overtake. We don’t give up and hopefully we can move past from this in Qatar. We’re going on a new tarmac on a completely different time of the season and hopefully we can turn up competitive there.”

Raul Fernandez – DNF

“Honestly we didn’t have the pace to be with the Ducati or to be in the top 10 at this circuit, it is difficult. We need to understand why we are in this situation, I think when we have a difficult weekend we need to do the kilometres to understand, but we couldn’t go until the end. I would like to say thank you to everyone who is working with me, the crew that I have around me is amazing, they work more than they should to make sure I have a good bike. I am the rider and I give my feedback and do my maximum, the team and myself have to work more to find some solutions.”

Joan Mir – DNF

“The summary of our weekend is that I am still working, I am still pushing, and I am not giving up – that’s why I crashed. Today I was able to be close to Marc and fight with him for a bit but the pressure with the front tyre was very high. We gain under braking but in the hot conditions like Malaysia you have to manage everything. It’s nice to fight with Marc, in another year that would have been fighting for the podium! We try again in one week.”

Team Managers

Luigi Dall’Igna – Ducati Corse General Manager

“It was a great weekend for the Ducati Lenovo Team. Both riders with our Desmosedici GP bikes were competitive and I really want to thank all the guys who work here and at home because they are doing a fantastic job and we are truly having a superlative season. Having said this, I am also really happy for Enea. After all the misfortunes he had this year, he finally managed to achieve a very important result which I believe boosts the morale and confidence for him and the whole team. Congratulations also to Pecco that with his third place after a strong weekend has made the day even more beautiful for us!”

This is Ducati’s seventh win in seven successive MotoGP races, which is a new personal record for the Bologna factory.
The win for Bastianini is the 15th for Ducati so far this season, equalling the record of the most wins in a single premier class season from Honda, set in 1997 and in 2003.
Massimo Meregalli – Monster Yamaha Team Director

“It was a very demanding race: 20 laps in these hot conditions asks a lot of both the riders and the tyres. We knew it would be hard, but we had learned from Saturday, and we had the confidence that we could do well today. Fabio had a much better start, and thanks to his great and unfailing pace, he was able to battle for fifth place. Morbidelli also made some great overtakes. Riding from P15 to P7 is not easy, but he managed the situation well whilst pushing all the way to the chequered flag. It was nice to see both our riders being competitive, and we aim to continue the momentum we gained today next week in Qatar.”

Pablo Nieto – Sky VR46 Team Manager

“Overall a very solid weekend, with placings always in the Top 10. Something was missing to be truly competitive and be able to fight for the top positions, but we didn’t lose too much. Marco is closer to the final P3 overall, which for us, in our second year in the Championship, is a great result. Luca did well and confirmed himself among the fastest guys. Excellent sensations to better face the next weekend in Qatar and then the final race at Valencia.”

Francesco Guidotti – Red Bull KTM Team Manager

“We were confident of a good race today after the way the weekend had gone and after the Sprint on Saturday but it did not happen. Brad crashed and Jack was doing quite well but not what we were expecting. Both were complaining of the same problems so we have to be more focused on this matter. A strange day and we have to understand how we can be better for Qatar.”

Nicolas Goyon – GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 Team Manager

“Conditions were tricky today in Malaysia with a track boiling hot, but the positive of the day is that both Augusto Fernandez and Pol Espargaro scored points. I would say that the highlight of the weekend was Augusto’s qualifying because he missed Q2 by only a few tenths, so he was competitive. We expected good races from him, but somehow he never really found a good race pace, and at that point of the season, we can say that a P14 is a disappointing result for him, even if it is the first time since Catalunya that he scores points on the dry. We all want more for him, so hopefully he will make a step in the next two rounds. We knew that the heat would not be a positive factor for Pol Espargaro because his body suffers much more in these conditions. In the first lap, he got hit by Joan Mir, but kept his focus to ride at a decent pace and eventually get one point. These are not the positions we are targeting, but at the moment this is what we have. Let’s refresh a little bit and head to Qatar with cooler conditions, so we can hopefully achieve better results.”

Razlan Razali – CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Principal

“Well I really don’t know where to begin, but the feeling that we are having right now, we are extremely disappointed, frustrated and also angry about the results today. Again, this is the third DNFs for the team, and for it to occur at my home Grand Prix, it’s very difficult to accept. But it is what it is and we have to move to the next final two races. As a team, we really need to figure out what went wrong, find a solution together with Aprilia, work extremely hard to do the best for our riders at least for the final two races, and the best that we can hope for is to maintain in eighth position at the end of the championship. We now prepare for the Valencia test and for a better season in 2024. We’re sorry to disappoint all our fans especially our Portuguese, Spanish and Malaysian fans, it’s not the result that we hoped for but we will not give up, we will move forward and come back stronger for Qatar.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Manager

“We have had quite a hard Sepang race weekend. For the Aprilia boys it was very difficult to be competitive, we struggled to qualify in a good position. In the Sprint race, we did what we wanted to do basically to make good lap times, but it wasn’t enough to get points. For the main race, we made some adjustments to the bike and Miguel was quite pleased with that this morning, but after the race started, he unfortunately touched another rider and I think he was missing his wing and the front was quite unstable, so he lost it in turn nine. Meanwhile, Raul had a technical issue in lap seven and he had to stop and retire. We need to investigate further what really happened.”

Piero Taramasso – Michelin

“Like last year, our  Michelin Power Slick in Medium compound was the number one choice. Despite a track made difficult by the various bumps, and the partial replacement of the asphalt between turns 7 and 12, the riders were immediately on the pace and were close to the circuit record from the first tests. This fast pace was maintained, with five riders beating the previous all-time circuit lap record during qualifying, which confirmed that the developments of the Grand Prix motorcycles and our tyres complement each other perfectly. During the Sprint race all riders opted for the same tyre strategy, and we saw a very high pace throughout the ten laps. For the Grand Prix, the tyre choice was the same but the management of wear required a different race rhythm. We nevertheless noted, due to the consistent performance of our tyres, that the average speed was high throughout the race. Despite difficult conditions, we demonstrated once again that our tyres offered versatility which allowed the riders to express themselves and put on a show without a change of pace throughout the whole event.”

Sepang MotoGP Race Results

Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 Enea BASTIANINI DUCATI 39m59.137
2 Alex MARQUEZ DUCATI +1.535
3 Francesco BAGNAIA DUCATI +3.562
4 Jorge MARTIN DUCATI +10.526
6 Marco BEZZECCHI DUCATI +16.946
7 Franco MORBIDELLI YAMAHA +18.553
8 Jack MILLER KTM +19.204
10 Luca MARINI DUCATI +19.740
11 Maverick VIÑALES APRILIA +21.189
12 Johann ZARCO DUCATI +23.598
13 Marc MARQUEZ HONDA +27.079
14 Augusto FERNANDEZ KTM +28.940
15 Pol ESPARGARO KTM +29.849
16 Iker LECUONA HONDA +50.960
17 Alvaro BAUTISTA DUCATI +53.564
18 Takaaki NAKAGAMI HONDA +1m42.162
Not Classified
DNF Brad BINDER KTM 9 laps
DNF Joan MIR HONDA 16 laps

MotoGP Max Speeds Across Race Weekend

Pos Rider Bike Speed
1 Jorge MARTIN DUCATI 337.5
3 Francesco BAGNAIA DUCATI 336.4
4 Brad BINDER KTM 335.4
6 Maverick VIÑALES APRILIA 335.4
8 Marc MARQUEZ HONDA 335.4
9 Luca MARINI DUCATI 334.3
11 Joan MIR HONDA 334.3
12 Jack MILLER KTM 334.3
13 Johann ZARCO DUCATI 334.3
15 Alvaro BAUTISTA DUCATI 333.3
18 Miguel OLIVEIRA APRILIA 332.3
19 Augusto FERNANDEZ KTM 332.3
20 Takaaki NAKAGAMI HONDA 329.2
21 Iker LECUONA HONDA 329.2

MotoGP Championship Points

Pos Rider Points
1 Bagnaia 412
2 Martin 398
3 Bezzecchi 323
4 Binder 254
5 Zarco 200
6 Espargaro 198
7 Viñales 175
8 Marini 171
9 Quartararo 156
10 Miller 156
11 Marquez 149
12 Di Giannantonio 100
13 Morbidelli 93
14 Marquez 84
15 Bastianini 76
16 Oliveira 76
17 Fernandez 69
18 Rins 54
19 Nakagami 52
20 Fernandez 40
21 Pedrosa 32
22 Mir 24
23 Espargaro 13
24 Savadori 9
25 Folger 9
26 Bradl 8
27 Pirro 5
28 Petrucci 5
29 Crutchlow 3
30 Lecuona 0
31 Bautista 0

2023 MotoGP Calendar

Rnd Date Location
1 Mar-26 Portugal, Portimao
2 Apr-02 Argentina, Termos de Rio Honda
3 Apr-16 Americas, COTA
4 Apr-30 Spain, Jerez
5 May-14 France, Le Mans
6 Jun-11 Italy, Mugello
7 Jun-18 Germany, Sachsenring
8 Jun-25 Netherlands, Assen
10 Aug-06 Great Britain, Silverstone
11 Aug-20 Austria, Red Bull Ring
12 Sep-03 Catalunya, Catalunya
13 Sep-10 San Marino, Misano
14 Sep-24 India, Buddh (Subject to homologation)
15 Oct-01 Japan, Motegi
16 Oct-15  Indonesia, Mandalika
17 Oct-22 Australia, Phillip Island
18 Oct-29 Thailand, Chang
19 Nov-12 Malaysia, Sepang
20 Nov-19 Qatar, Lusail
21 Nov-26 Valenciana, Valencia


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