Sepang MotoGP: Valentino Rossi backs race stoppage

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Valentino Rossi said yesterday’s 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 nine, told MCN: “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 4pm local time meant it was harder to restart the race.
Sunday’s race started at 4pm to help European TV networks, with the race scheduled to go out at 10am 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 2pm, it would have been rain-hit with only the Moto3 race, which kicked off at 1pm, not disrupted by torrential rain.

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

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 materialise 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.”

For seven pages of reaction from the Sepang MotoGP race, see the October 24 issue of MCN.


Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt