With a Championship battle hotting up it was Alex Marquez who stole the headlines as he claimed his second Sprint victory.
Francesco Bagnaia claimed pole position as he secured a new lap record at Sepang. Joining the reigning World Champion on the front row was fellow Ducati riders Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini.
As the lights went out it was Bagnaia who claimed an early lead from pole with Bastianini and Alex Marquez slotting into second and third, demoting Martin to fourth. However, Alex Marquez was not hanging about as he passed Bastianini for second, removing Bagnaia’s guard.
Bastianini lost three places in the blink of an eye as Martin muscled his way passed and then the KTM duo of Jack Miller and Brad Binder passed the Italian.
Marquez began looking aggressive as he sent an ambitious move on Bagnaia, but ran it wide and dropped back to third. But then Marquez had a go at second as he blasted through on Martin, but again ran it wide and lost second place. Until the Spaniard got the move done and found second place in front of Martin but behind Bagnaia.
One Marquez may had been up in second place but the older Marquez brother of Marc Marquez was having different fortunes. The departing Repsol Honda rider crashed out of 13th place on the third lap of the race. One lap later Repsol Honda team-mate, Joan Mir, crashed out of the race also.
Bastianini has been nowhere all year, but this weekend the Italian has shown up and has shown up fighting. Binder and Bastianini were fighting hard for fifth place, a position that would be Bastianini’s best of the season. The Italian did not settle for fourth though as he pounced and passed Miller for fourth.
For the second year running it was Bagnaia against a Gresini Ducati in Malaysia. But instead of it being Bastianini on the Gresini Ducati it was Marquez. The Spaniard appeared to believe he had the pace and was pushing hard to pass Bagnaia, which he managed to do on the sixth lap of ten.
Bagnaia dropped from first to second, and then quickly dropped from second third. The Italians Championship rival, Martin, had found his way through to second place and claw his way further towards the Italian in the Championship fight.
Marquez had wrapped up the Sprint Race from the moment that he hit the front. The Spaniard was unbeatable from the moment that he passed Bagnaia and was the first to claim the chequered flag and claimed his second Sprint Race Victory of the season.
Martin crossed the line to finish second place, ahead of his Championship rival. With the big red Factory Ducati of Bagnaia only managing to finish third place.
Featured Image – Gresini Racing