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Crunch Time: MotoGP Round 17 Preview - Sepang

No mucking about with fancy news pieces this week, we're at the clutch end of the season.

Lets give Ricky Cardus some love, it doesn't happen often
Lets give Ricky Cardus some love, it doesn't happen often
Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images

There's two races left, which means the fluffy "oh look what silly things the riders have been doing" pieces aren't going to be included this week. Titles can be decided, grid places are locked down for next year, and Alex De Angelis is on the mend. Huzzah!

De Angelis

We'll start with the good news that Alex De Angelis is returning to San Marino to continue treatment and ultimately start his rehabilitation after his horror crash in Japan  Despite getting head, lung, vertebrae, rib, sternum and collarbone injuries, he didn't damage his spinal cord (somehow), and the maniac wants to carry on racing. He's even hoping to be at the curtain closer in Valencia in two weeks, being in the paddock and around the other riders. Good luck in your recovery Alex, all the best from us.

Championship permutations

Let's start with Moto3, where Danny Kent's high-side at Phillip Island let Miguel Oliveira back in to the title fold. He is the only man that can stop Kent from taking the title, but is 40 points back from the Brit. Should Kent gain 11 more points over the next two races, he will be champion regardless of Oliveira wins. A fifth from Kent would win the title regardless of how Oliveira performs, but the further down the field Oliveira finishes, the less likely it looks. Should Oliveira finish fourth or lower, Kent is champion.

Up with the big boys, Marc Marquez saved Valentino Rossi big time at Phillip Island, claiming one of the best races of the last five years on the last lap, meaning Jorge Lorenzo only made seven points on Rossi, whose fourth place behind Andrea Iannone was hard-earned. Rossi is 11 points ahead of Lorenzo with 50 to play for. Should he finish 15 points ahead of him, he will be champion - pretty much first tied with Lorenzo finishing sixth. Similarly, it would take a poor race from Vale to give Lorenzo the lead in the championship, although a Lorenzo win tied with Rossi finishing fourth would see that happen. It's almost certainly going to Valencia.

Confirmed riders for 2016

Aspar will use Ducati bikes for 2016, signalling the end of their tenure with Honda. Eugene Laverty and Yonny Hernandez will ride for them next year. Forward Racing are leaving GP, instead racing in Moto2, WSBK and WSS. We knew about Nicky Hayden's departure from the field, he is joining the WSB Ten Kate Honda team. Karel Abraham's future is uncertain, as his AB team may also be moving to WSB. Finally, Alex De Angelis will have a ride next year, if he's fit, as the Emotion team have a bike for next year - and it could be this year's Aprilia.

The track

Sepang is one of the uninspiring Formula One tracks that I don't overly look forward to. Regardless of the layout, it is the place where Marco Simoncelli lost his life, and I still get a bit emotional over it.

Race Times

If you're on the eastern side of the Atlantic, it's slightly better for you. If you're on the west, it's like us Brits staying up for a Bruins game. Quick note for UK readers: the clocks go back on Sunday morning, meaning you'll have an extra hour in bed before you have to get up for the races.

Saturday Times BST (-5 for ET), Sunday Times GMT (-4 ET)
Saturday Qualifying Sunday Race
MotoGP Q1 - 07:10-07:25 Q2 - 07:35-07:50 07:00
Moto2 08:05-08:50 05:20
Moto3 05:35-06:15 04:00