SEPANG, MALAYSIA – Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales staved off MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez’s spectacular charge to win the Malaysian Grand Prix for his second win of the 2019 season at the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday.
A week after crashing out in the final lap at Phillip Island to allow Marquez to win the season’s penultimate race in Australia, Vinales made sure there was no repeat of the heartbreak.
The 24-year-old built an early lead and then put on a near-flawless race to stay clear of fellow Spaniard Marquez, who finished second after beginning 11th.
"I felt I had a big potential just passing the first lap," Vinales said afterwards.
"I took the lead in the first…and kept pushing, pushing, pushing. I’m so happy, the team did a great job."
Vinales dedicated his victory to Indonesian rider Afridza Munandar, who died after a crash in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup (IATC) race at Sepang on Saturday.
Marquez surged through the clutter to break into the top four in the first lap itself after a late switch to a soft rear tyre though Vinales continued to elude him.
The Respol Honda rider said his strategy was not different from the one that paid dividends in Australia.
"It was an incredible race," said Marquez, whose points haul of 395 is now a new record in a season, eclipsing Jorge Lorenzo’s 383 in 2010.
"Vinales was faster than us today and I saw that the chance was only like in Phillip Island – stay just behind him.
"Once he took (a lead of) one-second-and-half, I tried to keep there but then I did a mistake and it got to two-seconds- and-half. I’m happy for my race."
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso finished third, denying Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi a podium place.
Marquez had sewed up his sixth MotoGP title and fourth in a row in Thailand last month.
Moto2: Binder wins again
South Africa’s Brad Binder put on another spectacular performance this week, to win the Moto2 race on his Red Bull Ajo sponsored KTM. Unfortunately the win was not enough to keep his title fight alive, with Alex Marquez securing the 2019 Moto2 World Championship by coming second in the Sepang race.
Binder stole the lead at the beginning of the race, with pole-sitter Marquez slotting into second place ahead of Tetsuta Nagashima (TKKR SAG), but it wasn’t plain sailing for the South African, who lost the lead to Marquez in the fourth lap by running too wide, only to reclaim it 12 laps from the finish.
Binder is moving up to the MotoGP class in 2020, having recently been confirmed as a Red Bull KTM works rider.
Valencia hosts the final race of the season on November 17.
IOL & Reuters