Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso led an enthralling Malaysian Grand Prix multiple times today and battled with Valentino Rossi right to the chequered flag, crossing the line just 0.224s behind his countryman to score a valuable second place ...
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso led an enthralling Malaysian Grand Prix multiple times today and battled with Valentino Rossi right to the chequered flag, crossing the line just 0.224s behind his countryman to score a valuable second place finish. It was a gripping race, with Dovizioso and Rossi trading the lead and matching each other's blistering pace in 33 degree heat at the Sepang track.
It was the second time in as many races that Dovizioso has been the main challenger for victory, and follows his second place finish in Japan two weeks ago. The 24-year-old was quick off the line and slotted in behind early pace-setter Jorge Lorenzo before taking the lead for the first time on lap nine. Dovizioso then led for two laps before being passed by Rossi, and the pair were tied together for the rest of the race. At the start of lap 16, Dovizioso took the lead once more, only for Rossi to take him back later in the same lap.
Dovizioso did all he could to mount a challenge on the final lap and closed to within a quarter of a second as the duo flashed across the line. Despite narrowly missing victory, the Repsol Honda rider was pleased with today's result and the consistency displayed by achieving another strong result in very different conditions to his second place last weekend. Curiously, the Italian slipped one place in the World Championship to fifth, in spite of Casey Stoner's retirement following a fall. But the battle for third place is now very close, with Rossi on 181 points in third, Stoner in fourth on 180, and Dovizioso with 179 points. Dovizioso's target for the rest of the season remains third in the championship.
Today Jorge Lorenzo won the MotoGP world title by earning 16 points with his third place finish. Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa was the only rider with a mathematical chance of catching Lorenzo, although it was a very slim one bearing in mind Pedrosa is at home in Barcelona recovering from the broken collarbone he sustained last weekend in Japan. With Lorenzo 69 points ahead of Pedrosa before the race, Lorenzo needed only seven points to take his advantage above the maximum 75 points available from the remaining three races of the season. With the title now decided, Pedrosa paid tribute to his fellow Spaniard from his home today.
The MotoGP paddock now flies to Melbourne and then travels to Phillip Island for the Australian Grand Prix which takes place at the famous track next Sunday.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO - 2nd - World Championship position 5th 179 points
"I'm very happy with this second place today and it was a great race. We have been fighting for the victory at the last two races at two very different tracks, and also in different conditions, so this is really positive. I tried to stay close to Valentino on the last lap but in the final braking area I wasn't close enough to take him in the middle of the corner, even though he was too late on the brakes and went wide. Anyway, this result for Honda, Repsol and my team is really important. Last year we were 40 seconds behind the winner in the race here, so to be just 0.2s behind means we've moved forward a lot. Also, in the middle of the season, we weren't on the podium for a long time, so to be back in the top three is very important for us. We have to be happy because this was almost a win, and the riders in front of me are changing at each race, which means we have better consistency. We are happy and I'd like to say thank you to Honda and my crew. From the middle of the season until now we improved a lot because of the hard work of a great team."
DANI PEDROSA - DNS - World Championship position 2nd 228 points
"I think it's very good for Spain to have another world champion in the top class after Alex Criville's first title back in 1999. That was a long time ago... too long. So I'd like to say congratulations to Lorenzo today. He rode very well this year right from the beginning of the season and made very few mistakes - so he deserves the title. Of course, I would like to have been there today to try and keep the championship alive for a bit longer - even if we only had a very small chance of catching him. But it wasn't to be. My recovery and physiotherapy after the operation is continuing to go well, and I hope to feel good enough for Australia and to get back to the level we achieved recently for the last races of the season."
TOSHIYUKI YAMAJI - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"Again Andrea did a really good job today and he fought until the end and crossed the line less than a quarter of a second from victory. This is the closest he has come to winning in the dry and so we are very pleased with the progress of Andrea and his team. He battled hard and proved he has what it takes to win - he is very close to it now. Congratulations to Jorge Lorenzo for winning the World Championship. He is a strong rival and has earned the title. The Repsol Honda Team will continue to fight for victories until the end of the season."