Pre-Event pitches MotoGP against Olympians as a game of badminton fires up the engines for the Malaysian GP
Ahead of the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, points leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo faced a different kind of rivalry – on the badminton court. Teamed up with Olympic Silver Medalists Yap Kim Hock and Rashid Sidek at the Velodrom National Malaysia in Nilai, the two went head to head to see who would win the first competition of the weekend.
“It’s quite difficult to play,” smiled Marquez, who went into the event as a rookie. “It was the first time I’ve played and it’s hard to understand the speed of the shuttlecock. I was sweating a little bit!”
Marquez was up to speed fairly quickly, however, and was able to pull out a lead – with Lorenzo playing through the pain barrier after his crash at Phillip Island.
“I tried but I knew it would be difficult,” said the Ducati rider, who suffered a big crash in practice for the
Australian GP. “I still have some pain in my shoulder and ankle so it wasn’t easy, but we had fun with Marc and the professional players. It was a good experience…similar to tennis but a bit different!”
After the first few games, MotoGP™ Legend Mick Doohan made a wildcard appearance near the end as he tagged in to replace the Majorcan. “It’s not easy,” explained the Australian in the aftermath. “Initially, I thought it was going to be and the first few hits were ok…but then I lost the game! But it was a fun little event and I’ve never tried it before, so it was fun.”
Marquez was similarly happy to have taken part, and on the eve of the first race weekend on the calendar at which he could take the title, says it can be useful to switch off from the world of two wheels for a while: “It’s good to have this kind of event. It helps you to forget about motorbikes a little bit and forget about the race weekend!”
But not forget about competition, and it was the number 93 who took the win – something he’ll be looking to repeat this weekend as the title fight hits boiling point at Sepang International Circuit.
Lorenzo is looking forward to getting back on track, with the venue more suited to the Ducati. “It’s a very different track,” explains the Majorcan. “Hard braking and slow corners, unlike Phillip Island. It’s much wider as a track…it should be better for our bike. Phillip Island was a difficult weekend so we just hope to have a better race.”
Marquez’ mentality remains the same ahead of the weekend despite the opportunity he has to take the title, with the focus on pushing and staying calm under pressure.
“We will try to give 100%, focus and have a similar mentality as in other races,” affirms the reigning Champion. “Now we have a good advantage we need to be calm and finish the race. From Friday my mentality is the same – start pushing 100% and check how our level is on Sunday.”
That Sunday sees lights out at 15:00 local time (GMT +8).