Pedrosa the man to beat in Malaysia

Repsol Honda Team's Dani Pedrosa will try to claw back points on Yamaha Factory Racing's championship leader Jorge Lorenzo as MotoGP heads to Malaysia.

Motorsports News: Dani Pedrosa.

First and foremost it will be a very emotional return to the track, where the then San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli tragically lost his life in the opening stages of last year's race, which was subsequently cancelled.

This year, riders will aim to pay homage to their late colleague and friend by putting on a tremendous display of motorcycle racing at its finest. And it is Pedrosa who will remain the man to beat, as he pretty much has to win every single race in order to stand a chance at taking the championship. Lorenzo, who holds a 28-point advantage with 75 still on offer, is looking strong, yet not quite able to hold his rival's pace. But despite the points being stacked in his favour and second-, or even third-place finishes being enough for him to win the title at the end of the season, the Mallorcan has stated that he goes to Malaysia to win, as there remains the mathematical possibility of him taking the title on Sunday.

Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner did well on his return from injury in Japan to finish fifth, yet the reigning world champion will not declare himself happy until he is back to winning ways. Despite showing front-runner pace, the Australian has cited issues with maximum lean angle due to his ankle movement, and fatigue by using usually unused muscles to compensate for his lack of ankle strength. Yet with one race weekend under his belt, he is sure to go one better in Malaysia. Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Andrea Dovizioso, who only lies five points off Stoner in the standings, will be hoping the Honda rider doesn't find his stride too soon, as the Italian aims to get the upper hand for third in the table. He will once again face a stern challenge however from his teammate Cal Crutchlow, who will look to put the disappointment of running out of fuel in the last race behind him, and focus solely on the terrific display that nearly saw him snatch a podium.

In the battle for fifth in the table things are hotting up, with San Carlo Honda Gresini's Álvaro Bautista taking the lead with his hard-fought podium in Japan. Heading into Malaysia he will be brimming not only with confidence, but also peace of mind with his contract renewed for a further year. LCR Honda MotoGP's Stefan Bradl will hope that his arm-pump problem stays away in Malaysia, whilst Ducati Team's Valentino Rossi will be aiming to squeeze yet further performance out of his Desmosedici. Rear wheel spin was a big problem for the Italian outfit in Japan, which is something they will address in the preceding sessions. Rossi's teammate Nicky Hayden, who rode with a fractured right radius will be a week further into his healing process, yet will no doubt still suffer slightly under heavy braking. Pramac Racing Team's Héctor Barberá and Cardion AB Racing's Karel Abraham will hope to stick with the factory Ducatis this weekend, and fend off the top CRT runners in the process.

Power Electronics Aspar rider Aleix Espargaró will look to strengthen his grip on the CRT field in Sepang, yet will face a stiff challenge from teammate Randy de Puniet, who had a Japan to forget. Lining up along side them will be NGM Mobile Forward Racing's Colin Edwards, Paul Bird Motorsport's James Ellison, Came IodaRacing Project's Danilo Petrucci, Speed Master's Roberto Rolfo, San Carlo's Michele Pirro and Avintia Blusens duo Iván Silva and Yonny Hernández, who is expected to ride with his shoulder injury sustained in Motegi. The race at Sepang will also be a vital showcase for the CRT pack, to show how far they have progressed since pre-season testing earlier this year.



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