Steve Parrish's MotoGP column

Malaysia MotoGP

Venue:
Sepang
Date:
21-23 October
Saturday 22 October:
Qualifying: 0550-0900, BBC Red Button
Sunday 23 October:
125 & Moto2: 0555-0815, BBC Red Button; Grand Prix live: 0830-1000, BBC Two; Grand Prix re-run: 1300-1430 BBC Two
Casey Stoner

Australia's Casey Stoner may have wrapped up the title on home soil in Australia last weekend but I think there's still plenty to look forward to in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Stoner can risk some audacious moves and really enjoy himself because he doesn't need to worry about points or tactics, while his Honda team won't be so concerned about engine breakages so they can wind the power up.

That all makes Stoner favourite for victory but I think his team-mates will have something to say about that.

Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso are still battling for third place in the championship - and I expect that to continue at Sepang.

Pedrosa had a bit of a poor race in Phillip Island, while Dovizioso had a pretty good one, so I think that fight is finely poised.

Marco Simoncelli will also be in the mix after a mature performance to finish second in Australia.

There's no Jorge Lorenzo this weekend - as he has decided to get his finger mended properly after his accident in the warm-up session in Phillip Island.

The operation was very successful. He will lose the tip of his finger and his nail but, according to the surgeon, there's no real nerve damage.

They have stitched the two fingers together which will help the injury heal quicker.

I would be very surprised if they don't cut them apart a week before we get to Valencia for the final race of the season on 6 November and do their best to bandage it so he can race.

In Lorenzo's absence, we've got Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga in Sepang. I suspect the reason the team have hustled him into the fold is that their biggest sponsor is Petronas, the Malaysian oil company. I guess they felt it would be prudent to have two bikes out on the track.

Most test riders are usually three or four seconds off the pace so, if he doesn't finish last, I would be quite surprised.

I'm worried about Valentino Rossi because he doesn't seem hugely committed. You can understand that, if he feels the Ducati isn't where he needs it to be, he doesn't want to injure himself by overriding it.

This year is all over for him, the team look a little bit down, and I get the feeling Rossi has his sights set on a new chassis - which they will have for 2012.

Malaysia feels like the biggest greenhouse in the world. It's generally about 30 degrees celcius and usually rains around 1600 local time, which is exactly the time the race will start.

The organisers have put that start back two hours this year, which puts it right into the window of rain, so I would not be surprised if we have a wet race from flag to flag.

The track is the second-longest that we go to - Silverstone being the longest - with big long straights followed by slow corners. Horsepower is a big factor but, because of the heat, humidity, and lack of air, everything struggles a bit.

Everybody knows the track like the back of their hands because they spend days and days testing there.

That means they won't have a lot of set-up work to do on the bike initially because they should have the data from testing. I would like to think we will have some close racing on Sunday.

Sepang predictions:

1) Casey Stoner 2) Marco Simoncelli 3) Dani Pedrosa

Steve Parrish was talking to BBC Sport's Lawrence Barretto

Jorge Lorenzo

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