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KTM upstaged the fight for the crown last time out, as they took their first victory in the intermediate class – and their first 1-2, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) following Miguel Oliveira across the line. Now it’s time for Malaysia, and the two men will be looking for a repeat as they race with no title pressure – and the battle hits boiling point for Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten). Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) could play a role too, and he’s chasing Oliveira for third in the standings.
But Morbidelli, after completing the podium at Phillip Island, is now 29 points clear – with his Swiss rival having had a tough weekend and crossed the line in P10. The Italian must therefore leave Sepang with at least 25 points of advantage – with Lüthi now out of time to equal Morbidelli’s win count should they end up equal on points. Last season, the EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider was beaten only by Zarco – with Lüthi crossing the line in sixth. The Swiss rider will want a turnaround on his last stand.
One big force at the front could come from a home hero – especially given the possibility of changeable weather in which Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) excels. With two podiums in the last three races, his confidence will be high ready to fly the flag at home – and he came fifth last season. Compatriot Khairul Idham Pawi (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) is another on home turf, and Dimas Ekky from Indonesia is ready to line up at the closest race to his home country as he steps in from the FIM CEV Repsol for the injured Jorge Navarro at Federal Oil Gresini Moto2™.
Hot, humid, changeable and challenging, Sepang is the perfect stage for a final showdown – and it may prove just that, with Morbidelli focused on the crown and ready to head out on track from Friday.