In a repeat of the Sepang team's fortunes in their home MotoGP last month, a stunning qualifying was to be followed by race day disappointment at the inaugural Sepang 8 Hours endurance race.

Fabio Quartararo and Petronas Yamaha team-mate Franco Morbidelli qualified a dream first and third at the Malaysian Grand Prix, only to drop outside the top five in the race.

Morbidelli likewise put the Yamaha Sepang Team on a perfect pole position for this weekend's inaugural EWC event, where he was sharing the #21 R1 with home star Hafizh Syahrin and WorldSBK and 8 Hour ace Michael van der Mark.

But disaster struck when van der Mark was sent into a huge highside due to an early collision with Mike di Meglio.

After a five-hour rain delay, the pair had exchanged the early lead, with the Dutchman holding a narrow advantage when the pair collided at the final hairpin.

van der Mark appeared to bobble on entry to the turn, running wide, but there was not enough room for di Meglio when their lines crossed at the apex. The impact kicked the rear wheel of van der Mark's R1 sideways before pitching van der Mark over the handlebars.

di Meglio was able to re-mount and continue in the lead, but the Yamaha needed a pit stop for repairs before van der Mark headed back out, in 44th place and 3 laps down.

"I'm not sure what di Meglio's plan was with the pass at the final corner, but it didn't work, and it ended for me with a massive highside that let me badly winded," said van der Mark, who branded the move as 'stupid' on live TV shortly after the incident.

"The team did an amazing job to get the bike back on track and I was quick to rediscover my rhythm so, apart from the position, I enjoyed the race."

van der Mark completed two stints on the slowly drying track before handing over to Morbidelli for the final run, the Italian setting the fastest lap of the race as he scythed through the field from outside the top 15 to seventh place by the 9pm chequered flag.

"When Franco took over the bike for the last stint, we could see he had really good pace, but we were still surprised to finish as high as seventh," van der Mark said.

"Massive thanks to the team, who worked so hard for us this weekend, and also to Franco and Hafizh, who I really enjoyed racing with."

Syahrin, who will take part in the car races on Sunday, did not ride in the race.

Meanwhile, a second fall for di Meglio - the 2008 125cc world champion and a race winner in MotoE this season - would hand victory to the YART Yamaha of Niccolo Canepa, who rode all three hours single-handedly!

"I was feeling good at the start of the race but, after only a couple of laps, the bike switched off and when it came back on it was with no traction control or any electronics," said Canepa, a Pramac Ducati MotoGP rider during the 2009 season.

"When the safety car came out, I switched the bike off and on and everything started to work as it should once again. At both pit stops Mandy [team boss] asked me if I wanted to continue and both times I said yes, although I did take a bit of persuading at the first stop.

"I pushed hard throughout the race and, at the end, we took the win.

"Yes, we were a bit fortunate with the crash, but that's part of the game in endurance racing, as we've found out to our cost in other races. So, I'm super, super happy and I'd like to say a big thank you to my team and especially my teammates, as we race and win together."

Morbidelli - who was making his EWC debut this weekend, on the Sepang team's YART-prepared R1 fitted with Bridgestone tyres - will return to Malaysia for the start of 2020 MotoGP testing in February.

CLICK HERE for the full Sepang 8 Hour results...

 

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