The fairytale continues for Ducati


Clouds loomed large overhead on Saturday, but the sunshine prevailed.

Down on the track Marc Marquez (Honda) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) managed to make their way through to Q2. Marquez kept his performance up and claimed 3rd place for Sunday, while Bagnaia unfortunately fell and could only manage 9th on the grid, ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia). Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) managed 11th place, after also crashing.

Making up the rest of the front row was Enea Bastianini (Ducati) who took 2nd and pole went to Jorge Martin (Ducati), who did a phenomenal lap to not only take pole (his 4th this year and 2nd in a row) but also a new lap record – 1:57.790.


The weather remained the same through to Sunday and the pressure was mounting. With 20 laps till the end, the drama continued:

Martin started well and kept hold of his lead, but it was Bagnaia who made a fantastic start going straight to 2nd by the first corner. He wasn’t the only one though – Fabio also managed to make up 6 places, but Espargaro fell back to 11th.

Leading on the first lap was Martin from Bagnaia, Bastianini and Marquez.

Leading the group. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The championship hunt was on!

Lap 2 of 20 and Bastianini looked like he was ready to line a pass up on Bagnaia but would he? Ducati had already confirmed there were to be no team orders, but he would still need to be careful with his decisions.

Martin soon took fastest lap and continued to lead, Bagnaia, Bastianini and Marquez. The leading group had started to break away from Quartararo in 5th.

While some Ducati’s were soaring unfortunately Luca Marini (Ducati) had to retire from the race early on – the first time this season he hadn’t managed to finish a race.

With 17 laps to go: Bastianini still looked menacing behind Bagania for second. Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) took his long-lap penalty (which was enforced following on from qualifying sessions and rejoined the race in 10th) and Fabio managed to pass Marquez for 4th – keeping his championship hopes alive.

Marquez in 5th looked like he was in trouble from the two Suzuki’s following closely behind him. On lap 7 Joan Mir managed to pass, forcing Marquez back to 6th. Behind them Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) had also passed Alex Rins (Suzuki) for 7th.

Yellow flags were suddenly waving and a Pramac Ducati was in the gravel – Martin had crashed out of first place on turn 5. All of a sudden, the championship leader was in the lead, with his 2023 teammate following closely behind. Fabio was also up to 3rd. The battle continued.

Next lap Marquez passed Mir back, but Bezzecchi had better pace and managed to pass both riders to go to 4th. Could Bezzecchi help Bagnaia by passing Quartararo?

With 13 laps to go, Bagnaia led Bastianini, Quartararo and Bezzecchi.

Pecco led The Beast. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Gapping had started to appear between the top 4 riders – Bagnaia and Bastianini were 3.156 seconds ahead of Fabio who was 1.156 seconds ahead of Bezzecchi. But Bezzecchi was eating away at his gap to Fabio. Could he fight for a podium spot?

Half-way through the race, Bastianini couldn’t hold back any further and on turn 4 he managed to make a move on fellow Italian Bagnaia to take the lead. Ducati had said no team orders, were they going to commit to this rule? Audiences were on the edge of their seats wondering what would happen next.

With 7 laps to go Bagnaia re-passed Bastianini on the start-finish straight and managed to hold onto first place into turn 1 (lap 16). Every championship point counted, with only one round left.

The lead for the two Italians at the front had decreased to Fabio in 3rd to 1.620 seconds, could he catch up and fight for the win? Bezzecchi behind him seemed to have had tyre issues, after fighting hard early on in the race as the gap between himself and Fabio had increased to 1.523 seconds.

With only 3 laps to go Mir crashed out of his race on turn 1, leaving his teammate to battle Marquez.

The pressure from Bastianini remained constant throughout the entire race even down to the final lap.

Close racing. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Last lap – would Bastianini make a last lap move on the championship leader? He certainly tried too. On turn 9 he made an attempt to pass but went slightly wide leaving Bagnaia free to take his 7th victory this season.

Top 10 Finishers:


F. Bagnaia


E. Bastianini


F. Quartararo


M. Bezzecchi


A. Rins


J. Miller


M. Marquez


B. Binder


J. Zarco


F. Morbidelli

Congratulations to Ducati for winning the team championship. 

It’s a team game. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top 4 Championship:


F. Bagnaia

258 points


F. Quartararo

235 points


E. Bastianini

211 points


A. Espargaro

211 points

It is now down to the wire – who will be crowned World Champion in the next round?

In the words of Fabio – “…even if the chance is super small, we bring it to Valencia”. We will see you there!

Then there were two. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.



(Featured image – “Victory tastes sweet”. Courtesy of: Moto GP website).

Malaysian Grand Prix Preview, Can Ferrari Bounce Back?

Sepang International Circuit, Sepang, Malaysia.
Thursday 28 September 2017.
World Copyright: Zak Mauger/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _X0W6776

Formula One, is heading to Malaysia for the last time this weekend, as the government decided that the race is not profitable any more. Sepang International joined F1 in 1999, it was a part of Bernie Ecclestone’s plan to expand Formula 1 in countries around the world. Bernie’s idea has not worked very well so far Turkey and South Korea had the same fate with Malaysia and maybe more countries will follow.

Sebastian Vettel would like to say goodbye to the Malaysian Grand Prix with a victory, if the German wins it will be his fifth victory in Malaysia. Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso have won three times in Malaysia, whilst Kimi Raikkonen celebrated two victories in Sepang Circuit.

The leader in the drivers’ championship, Lewis Hamilton, has won only once, in 2014, since the track re-joined Formula 1 in 2007. Lewis is facing difficulties in Malaysia, but the Brit has the advantage of the 28 point gap, a finish ahead or close to Vettel will be positive for him.

2006 Malaysian Grand Prix – Wednesday Preview
Sepang, Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia. 15th March 2006
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic 
ref: Digital Image YY8P1797.

This weekend a new driver will make his appearance on the grid, the French Pierre Gasly will replace Daniil Kvyat and he will be racing for Toro Rosso in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Sepang International Circuit

Laps: 56

Circuit Length: 5.543 km

Race Length: 310.408 km

Lap Record: 1:34.223 (Juan Pablo Montoya – 2004)

Sepang is one of the most technical circuits in the calendar, designed by the German architect Hermann Tilke, it combines long high speed straights and tight twisting turns like turn number five and six.

High temperatures are the biggest challenge for the drivers, the average air temperature during the race is about 30 C which means that the temperature in the cockpit is around 50C and the drivers must race under these conditions for one hour and thirty-five minutes. Rain is expected in all sessions this weekend, which will be an extra challenge for the drivers.

Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) – “I am not worried, I am excited about making my debut in Sepang this weekend. I have worked hard to prepare for this and to get to F1. I am very happy to have this opportunity. I know it will be different to anything I’ve done before and the other drivers have been racing all season, so I will have a lot of things to get used to and learn about. It’s a super challenge and I can’t wait for it to start. I have raced in Sepang. It was last year, when I took pole position for the GP2 race, so clearly it’s a track I like. It is very tough with the high level of humidity but I am well prepared physically.”

Esteban Ocon (Force India) – “Sepang is such a beautiful track. I really love it. I enjoy chicanes and there are quite a few in Malaysia, with some nice combinations of fast and medium-speed corners. When you have a good car in qualifying, you can just feel the grip; it’s very enjoyable. On the other hand, it’s a very tough race because of the heat and humidity. The rain can play a big part – at least I am told! Last year everyone kept telling me that, but it was just mega sunny and warm all weekend. It’s sad we will be racing here for the last time because it’s such a cool track. I am going to miss it.”

Watch Max Verstappen talking about the fitness in Formula One, by Mobil 1 the Grid

Victor Archakis

Twitter @FP_Passion

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