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PETRONAS Yamaha SRT clinch Independent Teams championship at home

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team have clinched the 2019 MotoGP Independent Teams championship in front of a home crowd at the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, with Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo coming home sixth and seventh at the Sepang International Circuit to win the title in their rookie season.

Morbidelli was able to make a strong start from third on the grid, getting involved in the fight for the podium in the opening laps of the race. Unable to quite match his blistering pace from practice in the hotter race day conditions, he was able to secure sixth and defend his position from the advances of his team-mate Quartararo until the chequered flag. Coming home as best Independent Team rider, it means that PETRONAS Yamaha SRT now holds an unassailable 77-point lead in that championship with one race remaining.

Polesitter Quartararo also found himself unable to fully convert his practice form into success in the race, spending the entire 20 laps inside the top ten but unable to launch a podium challenge of his own. Taking home a solid seventh-place finish behind his team-mate, he not only helped secure valuable points for the squad but also extended his own lead in the Independent Riders’ championship, with 23 points in hand going into the final round of the championship. He also remains sixth in the overall riders’ World Championship.

The 2019 MotoGP season will conclude in two weeks’ time at the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana, with track action getting underway on 14th November and race day on Sunday 17th November.

Team Principal

“It has been an incredible first Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix for PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team as a squad represented across all three classes. The support at Sepang International Circuit was phenomenal and we thank everyone who came to cheer us on. On track, we had mixed results today. In Moto3, John McPhee was hampered after a racing incident so wasn’t able to fight for the podium. Ayumu Sasaki showed good pace but unfortunately finished the weekend with a broken hand. Adam Norrodin was also doing quite well in the Moto2 race until he crashed too. In the MotoGP race, Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo weren’t able to capitalise on their first and third positions on the grid – but we were able to take the best Independent Team award, to extend Fabio’s lead in the Independent Riders’ award, and to stay ahead of Suzuki in fourth in the overall team championship so there’s plenty of reason for good home cheer! We’re already looking forward to finishing the final round of the championship strongly in Valencia.”

Team Manager

“In many ways, it was a fantastic weekend as we were very fast with both Franco and Fabio on Friday and Saturday, and then we secured the Independent Team trophy on Sunday. This was one of our targets for the season so it is a real accomplishment for us to achieve this. Of course, we aren’t completely happy with the race results; if you’re on the front row of the grid then for sure you don’t expect to be sixth and seventh, but we head to Valencia with more experience and we hope to be fighting right at the front once more.”

Franco Morbidelli – #21
6th (+9.993)

“We can’t complain, because it was a good weekend all round even if we were expecting a little more from the race. I didn’t quite have the right feeling when we got going though, which is something we need to investigate – but even with that, we were able to bring the bike to the end in sixth place and as the top Independent Team rider. I was losing something in acceleration to the other guys, and then having to ride harder in braking to make up the difference. We’ve got one race left in Valencia to try and get that podium finish at long last.”

Fabio Quartararo – #20
7th (+12.864)

“It was a really tough race, and I struggled a lot. My first lap was a disaster, and I couldn’t stop the bike – which is an issue we haven’t had all weekend. We couldn’t make the result we wanted despite having the pace to fight for much better, and we have to figure out why that was the case. We’ve got one more race to go this year and we need to focus on that so that we can go out well at Valencia, especially as we’re going there much more experienced than we were twelve months ago when we tested there.”

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