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Titles up for grabs at Sepang

Titles up for grabs at Sepang

Titles up for grabs at Sepang

Whilst the battle between Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau at the top of the MotoGP World Championship grew ever closer at Qatar last Saturday, this weekend could see the title chase in the two smaller classes of Grand Prix racing decided at the Marlboro Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Dani Pedrosa needs to score just eight more points than Sebastián Porto and finish no lower than eighth place should Randy de Puniet win the race to become the 250cc World Champion. Meanwhile, Andrea Dovizioso will repeat Pedrosa's feat of lifting the 125cc crown at this circuit one year ago simply by finishing on the podium.

The destiny of the MotoGP title is a slightly more complicated affair after a sensational race in Qatar three days ago which saw Gibernau take his fourth win of the season and Rossi crash out for just the second time in over three years. Rossi's advantage at the top of the standings was consequently slashed to just fourteen points, meaning Gibernau can control his destiny and win the title with victory in the final three races.

Rossi will be desperate to recover lost ground at a circuit where he has finished on the podium for the last three years, including two victories. In contrast, Gibernau's second place finish last year was his first ever podium at Sepang since MotoGP switched to the futuristic new venue from Shah Alam in 1999.

Gibernau's Spanish compatriot Carlos Checa, who scored his third career pole in Qatar before retiring out of third place, has a better record in Malaysia having finished second on the first two visits to Sepang. Last year Checa was also the top Yamaha rider here, finishing in fifth place after starting from second on the grid, his best qualifying result of the season.

Back at Honda Alex Barros returns to Sepang on the RC211V for the first time since 2002, when he went from pole to third in what was only his second ride aboard the machine. Factory colleague Max Biaggi took victory in that race riding a Yamaha in 2002. He will look for another strong performance after claiming third last year on the Honda.


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