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MotoGP World Championship moves on to clash in Sepang

MotoGP World Championship moves on to clash in Sepang

The final non-European round of the MotoGP season takes place on October 19th in Malaysia.

The 2008 MotoGP World Championship enters its final week with the Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix on October 19th, the penultimate round of the current campaign and an event with the possibility of further deciding the final standings for the year.

With eight victories and an additional six podium finishes on the board, Valentino Rossi has already wrapped up his sixth MotoGP World Championship, with his remaining goals for the year being to enjoy himself onboard the Fiat Yamaha M1 and pick up some additional wins for his 2008 tally. The Italian counts the Sepang circuit that hosts the latest round as one of his favourites, reflected by his four premier-class triumphs in Malaysia. Rossi is expected to be back at full fitness following his neck muscle ache and throbbing headache encountered at the Australian Grand Prix –conditions which failed to derail his podium assault despite a fourth row start.

The winner of the Phillip Island race and last year´s visit to Sepang, Casey Stoner could secure second place in the overall classification on October 19th. The Australian is 36 points ahead of nearest rival Dani Pedrosa, the only rider with a chance of halting the Ducati rider´s attempts at the runner-up spot. Stoner has put off a wrist operation until the end of the season, with the express purpose of testing the Desmosedici GP9 in the post-race Valencia test.

Jorge Lorenzo is still in with a chance of third place in the series, 27 points separating the second Fiat Yamaha rider from arch-rival Pedrosa. The MotoGP newcomer is also looking to clinch the 2008 Rookie of the Year crown at the Sepang Circuit at which he took the 250cc World Championship last season, with longtime rival Andrea Dovizioso just one place below him in the standings.

The third former MotoGP World Champion on the premier class podium in Australia –only the second time that such a triumvirate had occupied the rostrum spots- Nicky Hayden is one of the form riders of the moment. The American has never placed in the top three at Malaysia, however, despite placing fourth at his first quartet of races in Sepang.

Colin Edwards, Chris Vermeulen, Shinya Nakano and Loris Capirossi complete the top ten, with Vermeulen and Capirossi joined in the Rizla Suzuki garage at Malaysia by Nobuatsu Aoki. The Japanese test rider is the third wildcard rider for the team in 2008, following appearances from Ben Spies and Kousuke Akiyoshi in America and Japan, respectively.

The Sepang International Circuit is a 4448m long track constructed in just 14 months to hold its first Grand Prix back in 1999. Four slow corners follow two long straights and ten medium to high speed corners at a wide track made for overtaking, and one of the longest laps in MotoGP is made all the more gruelling by Sepang's tendency for intense heat and humidity. The circuit is located 50km south of Kuala Lumpur city.

The Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix takes place on Sunday October 19th, with practice sessions kicking off on the preceding Friday.


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