The nineteenth and penultimate round of 2022 MotoGP brought the world championship back to the hot and difficult conditions of the Sepang International Circuit. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Augusto Fernandez raced to 4th in Moto2™ to regain the championship lead while Moto3™ teammate Jaume Masia only narrowly missed the podium.
Red Bull KTM Ajo prepped for the Grand Prix distance at midday local time with both of their riders – Jaume Masia and Daniel Holgado – on the second row of the grid. As the lights disappeared both Spaniards vied to be in the leading group as the slipstream down the two long straights and through some of Sepang’s faster corners was a key ingredient of consistent lap-times.
The breakaway posse consisted of eight runners with both Masia and Holgado firmly in the mix and with eyes on the podium. In the final lap charge Masia missed the podium by only a tenth of a second and finished 4th while Holgado gained a decent 7th.
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Deniz Öncü counted the cost of a crash during qualification to launch from a lowly 25th but the Turk began a robust fightback to 10th. Adrian Fernandez made his way to 15th by the flag.
With one round remaining Masia is 6th in the Moto3 points table and with the potential to rise to 5th if he gains three more points than Öncü. Holgado is 11th in his very first Moto3 campaign.
Red Bull KTM Ajo charted the paths of Augusto Fernandez to 4th position and Pedro Acosta to a DNF in the 18-lap Moto2 contest and the results put Aki Ajo’s emphatic squad on the fringe of being Team champions for the second year in succession.
A tense chase for the Moto2 riders title took another twist in Sepang. Fernandez faced a 3.5 point deficit to main rival Ai Ogura as the Japanese started the race from Pole Position. Augusto (getting away from 6th) battled for the top five and managed to cross the line in 4th but Ogura’s last lap crash means Fernandez is now again in control of the championship with a 9.5 point margin.
Pedro Acosta, making his debut GP appearance at Sepang, was competitively quick but was unlucky to be scooped out of action in Turn 2 and then fell again with seven laps to go.
The Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana will be the stage for the critical Moto2 title decider. The final date of MotoGP™ will take place in a fortnight at the traditional curtain-closing Circuito Ricardo Tormo in eastern Spain.
Results Moto3 Petronas Grand Prix of Malaysia
1. John McPhee (GBR), Husqvarna 38:.04.589
2. Ayumu Sasaki, (JPN), Husqvarna +0.048
3. Sergio Garcia (ESP), GASGAS +0.146
4. Jaume Masia (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.245
5. Diogo Moreira (BRA) KTM +0.319
7. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +5.817
10. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +6.732
15. Adrian Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +14.659
Results Moto2 Petronas Grand Prix of Malaysia
1. Tony Arbolino (ITA) 38:25.233
2. Alonso Lopez (ESP) +11.411
3. Jake Dixon (GBR) +11.802
4. Augusto Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +13.206
DNF. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo