Valentino Rossi took victory in the Marlboro Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix after a heart-stopping final few laps at the Sepang circuit saw him and compatriot Loris Capirossi switch positions numerous times before the reigning World Champion eventually ran out the winner. It was an engrossing encounter of epic proportions, which marked another glorious chapter in a stunning MotoGP season so far.
The race began with a surprise in the form of Dani Pedrosa, who had been rumoured to be a possible non-starter for the event with several stitches in a deep gash on his knee. However the Spaniard gritted his teeth to take up his fifth place on the grid, and got straight into the race as he blasted into the first corner in first position.
Pedrosa was closely followed by Capirossi and Rossi however, and soon the Italian duo had made their way past the rookie. As Pedrosa braved the pain to hang on behind the leaders, behind him his team-mate and championship leader Nicky Hayden struggled to stick with the front three.
At the front Rossi and Capirossi both made attempts to escape, but the pace of the pair was almost identical and there was nothing to choose as the race came down to its denouement. The Ducati led the Yamaha as the dogfight entered the final lap, and a six-tenths cushion as he crossed the line bode well for Capirossi.
Rossi had other ideas meanwhile, and put in a storming last lap to pass Capirossi in the tight uphill left-hander before pulling out another eight tenths to take the win. Capirossi brought his Ducati home in second, with Pedrosa just a further three seconds behind in third.
Nicky Hayden held off mid-race challenges from Sete Gibernau and Casey Stoner to take 13 points in fourth, whilst Gibernau himself was fifth on his return from injury. In the final laps Stoner was overtaken by both John Hopkins and Kenny Roberts Jr. to finish eighth, whilst Marco Melandri and Colin Edwards rounded out the top ten.
Jorge Lorenzo extended his lead over Andrea Dovizioso in the 250cc World Championship to 12 points with victory in Malaysia, although his Italian rival kept up the pressure with a second place. Neither rider was first out of the blocks, with Roberto Locatelli taking the holeshot and controlling the race in the early stages before going off-track.
Lorenzo's team-mate and Malaysian poleman Hector Barbera saw his chances literally go up in flames on lap 2, when a highside from the Spaniard sent sparks along the track. Another contender, Hiroshi Aoyama, pulled up soon after with a mechanical problem.
Alex de Angelis stepped into contention, but his involvement only served to increase the gap between Lorenzo and Dovizioso as he put himself in the middle of the championship frontrunners. He eventually finished third, ahead of Yuki Takahashi, Roberto Locatelli and Shuhei Aoyama. Sylvain Guintoli, Marco Simoncelli, Aleix Espargaro and Jules Cluzel completed the top ten.
Alvaro Bautista took win number six of the season today in a shortened 125cc Marlboro Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, keeping alive the possibility of him raising the 125cc world title in Australia next weekend. Creating a gap on both occasions between himself and second placed Mika Kallio, he extended his lead in the championship to 74 points over the KTM rider.
The race was cut to a 12 lap affair after a restart, caused when Mattia Pasini highsided on lap 2 and the unfortunate Andrea Iannone smashed into his prone bike in the middle of the track..
Hector Faubel came in third after a back and forth battle with Julian Simon. On the home straight some aggressive riding from the Master MVA Aspar rider took him past his countryman and he crossed the chequered flag first.
Joan Olive took fifth, ahead of Sergio Gadea and Pasini, who dropped down the order late on. Gabor Talmacsi and Derbi Racing's Lukas Pesek and Nico Terol completed the top ten.
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1st place - Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
"I pray every week for a race like this, first is great but second would have been nearly as good in a race like that. It's been one of my favourite races of my career.
Myself and Loris are old style riders, very aggressive, however we are always very fair with each other. I played my cards well and, although I won this time, it could easily be Loris next time."
2nd - Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
"When you have a battle like that, to lose is no disgrace. The race was really hard but, as Valentino said, we always race very fairly against each other. I knew he would be faster at the end than me, so I was just hoping for a mistake and pushing him all the way.
The championship is still open, we will see, but for now I tried to do my best in this race and we will do so in the next races."
3rd - Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
"I want to thank the medical team, who have taken care of me throughout the last two days. They made it easier to ride in what was a very hard race. I only decided to race halfway through the 250s. I only have five days to rest now, so we will see what condition I am in when we get to Australia."
Source: Dorna Communications