Jack leads at the start but runs into tyre woes to drop to a familiar spot in Malaysia.
Jack has drifted to an eighth-place finish after a brilliant start to Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, where he took the lead at the opening corner but ran into tyre troubles the longer the race went.
After qualifying fourth on Saturday, Jack used the extra grip provided by his soft/soft front/rear tyre choice to blast off the line when the lights went out to start Sunday’s 20-lap race, storming past the all-Yamaha front row of pole-sitter Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Vinales and Franco Morbidelli to lead for the majority of the first lap, Vinales and a fast-starting Marc Marquez (Honda, from 11th on the grid) demoting him to third by its completion.
Jack fought ferociously with Marquez to reclaim second on lap two, but dropped back to fourth two laps later as Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), the only other rider utilising the soft front/rear tyre combination, muscled past.
Lap seven was where Jack’s challenge to finish inside the top five began to unravel, as he was passed by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) at Turn 7, nearly falling as he got back on the gas, and then dropped a spot to Alex Rins at the final corner, the two bikes colliding after the Suzuki made contact with Jack’s Ducati.
From there, Jack was in tyre management mode, dropping back to ninth on lap 14 after being passed by Johann Zarco’s Honda, but immediately reclaiming the position. Zarco was later taken out of the race by Joan Mir, the Suzuki rider forced to serve a long-lap penalty for the incident with two laps to go.
Jack held on to eighth from there after a frustrating race, finishing 17.252secs adrift of victor Vinales, who won his – and Yamaha’s – second Grand Prix of the season. It’s the closest he’s finished to the race-winner in five premier-class Malaysian Grands Prix; he’s now finished eighth on the past four visits to Sepang.
“The start was very good and I tried to take the pace trying to control the race pace,” Jack said.
“From the third lap the feeling with the front tyre has dropped a lot and I haven’t been able to push anymore. Too bad because I felt I had the pace to fight for the podium. Contact with Rins? It was a very special race, I suffered so many attacks maybe beyond the limit. But these are the races.”
Fourth place for Rossi at Sepang makes Jack’s quest to take seventh place from the Italian in the standings that much harder; Jack trials the nine-time world champion by 17 points with just one race remaining, at Valencia in Spain on Sunday November 17.