Randy de Puniet gave his team something to celebrate today when he rode to a spectacular fourth position in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. However, in an unfortunate turn of events, Anthony West made an error on the starting grid that cost him a potential MotoGP career-best result.
Frenchman de Puniet shot off from fourth on the line as the race began, showing brilliant progress in an area which has vexed him in the past, and clinched third place from Marco Melandri in turn one. A leading group of Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, de Puniet and Melandri quickly formed, with the Kawasaki number 14 pilot maintaining third until the Italian overtook him on lap five. But he never let up throughout the race and, whilst riding his 800cc Ninja ZX-RR to the maximum, held his position, eventually landing himself 13 championship points and taking 11th position in the current standings.
A delighted de Puniet came home to an uproarious reception from his crew after a weekend which has seen him relentlessly topping the timesheets and consistently displaying both talent and courage on the 4.55km circuit. Bike, rider and Bridgestones shone for the entire, 21-lap race.
Fortune did not smile, however, on Anthony West. Upon lining up for the start, the 26-year-old Australian placed himself on a 250cc grid position, marked on the track adjacent to the MotoGP spot. This was officially flagged as a jump start and he was given a ride-through penalty, which he fulfilled at the end of lap five, surrendering a very-promising fifth place in the process.
It was a heartbreaking turn of events for West, after he had clocked spectacular times throughout the weekend and qualified in a personal best fifth position on the grid. He re-joined the race in 20th place but, in typical West fashion, other riders were overtaken and he finally finished 15th, miraculously maintaining his run of scoring points at every round since he began racing in MotoGP in June.
The team now leave Malaysia and head back for Europe, where the final round of the MotoGP World Championship will take place at Valencia in two weeks' time.
Randy de Puniet, "I'm very happy, it was a good race. For the first time in 17 rounds, I managed a good start and then I took Melandri by the first corner, holding third for a few laps. After that he passed me and I tried to stay with the leading group. I did make some small mistakes during the race but the gap between me and the others didn't change and towards the end I got within less than a second of Pedrosa. But then I had a few problems with stability under braking and decided to hold my place rather than push too hard and take any risks. The bike worked very well today and I'm so happy with this result