Rossi Finds Another Gear, Target Now Set On Marquez In Malaysia

Valentino Rossi marked his 250th MotoGP race with victory in the Australian Grand Prix to set his sights on cutting down Marc Marquez’s lead in the Malaysian GP

Valentino Rossi marked his 250th MotoGP race with victory in the Australian Grand Prix and has now set his sights on cutting down Marc Marquez’s lead in Malaysia this weekend. The 35-year-old heads into the race on the back of two wins from four but still 55 points behind the Spanish champion.

The Yamaha driver has not won the title since 2009 but has seen some of his previous better form return this year with 11 podium finishes from 16 races so far this season. Marquez has been the man to beat over the past two-years, however, with the reigning champion winning the first 10 races of the 2014 season with the odds in his favour for a second successive title.

Marquez’s Dip

The 21-year-old joined Mick Doohan and Giacomo Agostini as only the third rider to win his first 10 races of the season following victory in Indianapolis this August. Since the win, however, the record breaker has won just one of the last six races.

Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa ended his winning streak with victory in the Czech Republic, despite starting fifth on the grid with Marquez on pole. The Spanish sensation finished fourth, over 10 seconds behind his Italian team mate.

Marquez returned to the top of podium at Silverstone, however, winning the British Grand Prix with Rossi in third and Petrosa fourth with Jorge Lorenzo, winner of the 2012 and 2013 British GP, finishing second.

The star struggled in San Marino and Spain, however, finishing 15th and 13th, respectively, collecting just four points from the two races as Rossi picked up his first win of the season with victory in the Italian peninsula. The nine-time champion retired in Spain, however, failing to take advantage of the Honda star’s crash in Aragon with Lorenzo grabbing the victory, his first of the year.

The Cervera-born star sealed his second consecutive title with three races to go, however, with a runner-up finish in this Japanese Grand Prix with Yamaha’s Lorenzo claiming his second straight win. The Spaniard’s difficulties continued in Australia, however, crashing in the 18th lap after leading from the start. Veteran Rossi pounced to grab a second win, finishing 10 seconds ahead of teammate Lorenzo after starting the grid in eighth.

Magical Marquez and Rossi’s Records

Marquez equalled Rossi record of 11 victories in a single season when he triumphed at Silverstone and now has two-races left to break the 35-year-old’s record that was set in 2002 and 2005.

The 21-year-old is the youngest ever MotoGP champion and the youngest rider to win back-to-back titles. While his pole position in Spain was his record equalling 12th pole position of the season.

Both will be determined to finish on a high with Rossi no doubt keen to preserve every record he can and Marquez desperate to make sure his second title winning season is as memorable and record breaking as possible.

Since his return to Yamaha, Rossi’s form has been considerably better following a frustrating spell with Ducati which failed to bring a single victory during his two-years with the team. The Italian still holds a host of records and has won in Malaysia a record seven times, including five MotoGP victories.

Yamaha revival as Lorenzo sets the pace

It has been Rossi’s teammate who set the early pace so far in practice ahead of the penultimate MotoGP race of 2014, however, with Lorenzo the fastest in Friday’s practice session as Yamaha go in search of a fifth consecutive win of the season.

Prior to Australian, the Japanese team had not won four in row since 2009 and have not recorded five successive victories since the 2008 season, Rossi winning all five that year. While the Australian GP was the first time since 2008 that Yamaha dominated the podium with three riders. Honda, in contrast, had no rider inside the top-five down under, the last time this happened was in 2010. Honda can still clinch their 21st Constructors Championship this weekend, if any of their riders finish 11th or higher, regardless of how well Yamaha perform.

Honda’s Pedrosa topped the first session on Friday while Lorenzo impressed during a rain-soaked second session, finishing 0.242 seconds ahead of Marquez with a time of 2:14:503. Rossi, meanwhile, was down in 15th, 3.519 seconds behind his Yamaha teammate.

Do you think Yamaha continue their recent good form in Malaysia or will Marquez and Honda return to their dominant and winning ways?