MotoGP: Pedrosa wins Malaysian GP overshadowed by Rossi kick

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Dani Pedrosa’s strong finish to the 2015 MotoGP season continued in the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday as he claimed his second victory in three races ahead of Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo.

However, the race was overshadowed by an on-track clash between Marc Marquez and championship leader Valentino Rossi that has seen the latter be demoted to the back of the grid for the season finale in two weeks’ time.

Starting from pole, Pedrosa made a clean start to lead into turn one before controlling proceedings throughout the race to take a fuss-free win ahead of Lorenzo by 3.6 seconds at the flag.

Marquez initially stayed with Honda teammate Pedrosa before dropping behind Lorenzo and entering battle for third place with Rossi, who had accused the Spaniard of trying to derail his title bid earlier this week.

On lap seven, Rossi dived down the inside of Marquez at turn ten to take the position before the Honda rider fought back through turns 11 and 12. The two riders went side-by-side into the turn 13 and 14 complex, with Marquez on the outside.

After turning his head to see where Marquez was, Rossi lifted his left leg and made contact with the Spaniard, causing him to fall off his bike. Rossi was able to continue, but a fuming Marquez was resigned to his sixth retirement of the season.

Rossi eventually finished the race in third, leaving his lead over Lorenzo in the championship standing at seven points ahead of the title decider in Valencia on November 8.

Unsurprisingly, he was brought before the stewards after the race for his clash, with many – including Lorenzo – calling for his disqualification from the race.

The race director ultimately decided to uphold Rossi’s third place finish, but he will be forced to start the final race of the year in Valencia from the back of the grid, setting the stage for a thrilling championship showdown.

“You know unfortunately I lost a lot of time with Marc and in turn 14, I tried to go wide to get a better line to make him slow because he just rides to cause me some problems,” Rossi told after the race, having skipped the post-race press conference.

“Unfortunately he came to me and I think he crashed in that moment. It’s a shame because I think that in a normal race we can stay and fight with Jorge and we lost some more points. Valencia will be more difficult.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

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Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
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Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.