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First championship shot for Lorenzo as MotoGP heads to Sepang

MotoGP moves south this week for the second leg of its eastern flyaway tour at Sepang in Malaysia. After the exciting battle between Rossi and Lorenzo on Sunday in Japan, this race presents the first championship ‘match-point’ for Jorge Lorenzo, who can seal his maiden premier-class title this Sunday.

Lorenzo lost out narrowly to his team-mate at Motegi and finished off the podium for only the second time this season, but his focus lies entirely with the championship and he knows he needs just a handful of points on Sunday to become 2010 MotoGP World Champion. His only title rival, Dani Pedrosa, is almost certain to miss the race while he recovers from surgery on his collar-bone and if so Lorenzo will need just six points on Sunday to fulfil his dream. The 23-year-old is a fan of the fast and flowing track, where he clinched his second 250cc title in 2007. Last year at Sepang a sighting lap problem forced him to start from the back but he charged through the field to finish fourth, overtaking 12 riders on his way.

Motegi saw a resurgent Rossi back on the podium after the close-fought battle with his team-mate and he is hoping that Sepang will be just as kind to his shoulder, which caused him much less trouble than expected in Japan. He was delighted to find that he and his crew had also made some effective steps forward with their setting and the current World Champion is hopeful of being able to finish the season in fighting form. Rossi has a love affair with the Sepang track which has seen him take five wins and the Italian names it as one of his very favourite tracks, along with Phillip Island. He has twice won the title for Yamaha there, in 2007 and again last year, when he clinched his ninth crown with a determined charge to third after slipping back as far as tenth at one stage.

The tropical venue of Sepang was built as a state-of-the-art motor racing venue in 1999 and will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a series of special events over this weekend’s MotoGP. It is one of the widest tracks on the calendar, some 16 metres across in places, and with its fast and frequent changes of direction and some tight hairpins it provides a stern work out for the bike, while the temperatures and high humidity turn it into a test of endurance for the riders.

Jorge Lorenzo – “First chance at my dream”
“All I am thinking about is Sunday and if I can win the title…it’s been one of the dreams of my life and it would be great to get it here in Sepang. I like Malaysia a lot and I’ve done so many kilometres there testing on my M1, plus I have great memories from winning the 250 championship there in 2007. The track is long and modern but the weather can be a problem because it can be too hot and also rain can cause problems. Last year was a bit crazy with the rain and then I had to start from last on the grid! I would definitely prefer it to be dry this year. The team and I will focus in the same way we have all season, working hard from Friday and with the goal of podium or victory. We hope for the best result we can get.”

Valentino Rossi – “One of my favourite tracks”
“Japan was very exciting for us and it felt good to be fighting at the front through all the sessions and the race; it’s been a long time since we were that strong. I don’t know until I start riding how Sepang will feel on my shoulder but it is one of my two or three favourite tracks in the world and I am always excited to go there. We were strong there in winter testing, obviously a lot has changed since then but we made some good improvements to our bike in Japan so I hope we can be in the same kind of form this weekend.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – “Hoping to achieve our target”
“This is our first chance to achieve our target and take the title and we are excited to arrive at this point after everyone’s hard work. It seems like Dani won’t be riding and if that is the case then we only have to take a few points on Sunday to win the championship. We will keep calm and focused and hopefully everything will come together.”

Davide Brivio – “Let’s see what we can do!”
“Motegi was very good for us and now we’re excited to get to Sepang and see what we can do there. Valentino’s shoulder wasn’t such a big problem in Japan but we have to wait and see how it will be in Malaysia, which is a very different track. Anyway we made some good progress with our setting and you can see that it worked because we were really competitive all weekend, which was a good feeling!”

Valentino Rossi : Information
Age: 31
Lives: Tavullia, Italy
Bike: Yamaha
GP victories: 104 (78 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 237 (177 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 59 (49 x MotoGP/500cc, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
World Championships: 9 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 6 x MotoGP)

Jorge Lorenzo: Information
Age: 23
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
Bike: Yamaha
GP victories: 33 (13 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 142 (48 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 40 (14 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 2 (250cc, 2006/7)

Sepang: Record Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2007, 2’02.108

Sepang: Best Lap
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2009, 2’00.518

Grand Prix Results: Sepang 2009
1. C.Stoner (Ducati) 47’24.834
2. D Pedrosa (Honda) +14.666
3. V.Rossi (Yamaha) +19.385
4. J. Lorenzo (Yamaha) +28.850

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