Tom Luthi has been ruled unfit to race after his massive highside during qualifying for the Sepang round of Moto2. The Swiss rider fell very heavily during qualifying, and fractured his ankle in the fall.
Luthi's participation had been in doubt after the crash on Saturday, but doctors ruled that he would have to pass an examination on Sunday morning before being allowed to race. Luthi failed that exam on Sunday morning, and has been ruled out of the Moto2 race on Sunday.
With Luthi out, Franco Morbidelli's lead of 29 points becomes unassailable. Morbidelli is now officially the 2017 Moto2 Champion.
Dorna posted a video of Luthi's horrific crash on their Twitter feed:
Will we have a 2017 MotoGP champion by Sunday night? The odds are on the side of Marc Márquez. Second place would be good enough to wrap it up for the Repsol Honda rider wherever Andrea Dovizioso finishes. If Dovizioso doesn't win, then Márquez has to finish within eight points of the Italian. If Dovizioso is second, then fourth is good enough. If he's third, then eighth is good enough. So far this season, Marc Márquez has always finished sixth place or better. Except when he doesn't finish, of course...
Márquez has two obstacles to overcome. The first is the weather. The forecast for Sunday at Sepang is heavy rain, from around the time warm up for MotoGP tends until early evening. On Friday, it was Andrea Dovizioso who was strongest in the rain, while Márquez was a little slower, and had a fleet of Ducatis to contend with.
The second obstacle is the big group of very fast riders at Sepang. Going by the timesheets in FP3 and FP4, there are a bunch of people who are capable of a podium, and maybe even a win. "I think there are five, six, seven riders who have similar pace, there is not a clear favorite," was Jorge Lorenzo's assessment. "It's very, very open the fight for the victory, the fight for the podium," Valentino Rossi concurred, "because have a lot, a lot of different riders that for sure have the pace for the podium but also for the victory."
Finding both tires and a setup he liked more than in FP3, championship leader Marc Marquez set the fastest time of the fourth practice as riders began working on race settings before the afternoon's qualifying session. Marquez's 2'00.438 put him two-tenths ahead of leading rival Andrea Dovizioso (2nd). Suzuki's Alex Rins, who had one of his best races of the season at the recent Philip Island contest, finished the fourth practice in a surprising third place. Johann Zarco took the top Yamaha spot in fourth, just barely in front of Dani Pedrosa (5th).
Franco Morbidelli, Moto2 championship points leader, dominated the final practice before Saturday afternoon's qualifying session with a 2'06.605 at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. While Morbidelli's time was a mere seven-hundredths of a second clear of Francesco Bagnaia (2nd), it was his consistency that should worry rivals. Morbidelli, who sits 29 points ahead of Thomas Luthi with one race remaining, spent much of the session in the 2'06s -- an indication of a relentless race pace.
Valentino Rossi seized the top spot in FP3 when he became the only rider to drop into a sub, two-minute laptime at the Sepang circuit Saturday. Rossi's set his 1'59.947 -- the weekend's fastest time by any rider -- with no time left in the third practice. Johann Zarco, who led much of the session, was bumped into second by the Italian's final lap. Dani Pedrosa jumped from 11th into third near the end of practice as riders began switching to the soft-option rear tire in an attempt to ensure a top-10 finish.