Newly crowned world champion Valentino Rossi won Sunday’s Malaysia MotoGP to register his ninth win of the season.
The Italian took the lead halfway through the race and surged clear of his rivals to record a comfortable victory on his Yamaha in the penultimate event on the MotoGP calendar.
Spain’s Dani Pedrosa finished second on a Honda after starting the race from pole position and leading for the first nine laps on a baking hot day at the Sepang circuit.
Italian Andrea Dovizioso earned his first career podium finish in the sport’s premier class when he reached the chequered flag third on a Honda just ahead of American Nicky Hayden.
Australian Casey Stoner, the 2007 world champion, finished sixth to wrap up second place in the championship with only next week’s Valencia MotoGP to come.
Rossi wrapped up his sixth title in the sport’s premier class in Japan last month and has now won six of the last seven grands prix. He finished runner-up to Stoner at the last round in Australia despite crashing heavily in qualifying and hurting his neck.
”I had a great battle early in the race with Dani, but I had 10 laps alone which, although the track is fun, were hard work,” Rossi told the MotoGP official website.
”I’m happy because it’s my ninth victory of the year. I like this number and will try for 10 in Valencia.”
Pedrosa said that despite starting from pole and leading for nearly half the race, he always feared Rossi had his measure.
”Valentino always gives more in the race than in practice, and we need to learn this and push harder,” the Spaniard said.
”Second place is very good and we are happy with this.”
Dovizioso finished fourth in his MotoGP debut at Qatar in March but made it to the podium for the first time after a thrilling last-lap duel with Hayden.
”I’m really happy about my first podium,” he said. ”It was a very difficult this year, we had many problems. We worked a lot and can be really happy with the result.”
Rossi’s friend Marco Simoncelli completed a championship double for Italy when he clinched the 250cc world title on a Gilera on Sunday.
Simoncelli (21) finished third in the 250cc race behind Spain’s Alvaro Bautista and Japan’s Hiroshi Aoyama, which was enough for him to open up an unassailable 26-point lead in the standings.
”I’m happy, this is wonderful,” Simoncelli said. ”I can’t speak at the moment, I’m too hot.”
Hungarian Gabor Talmacsi won the 125cc race ahead of Britain’s Bradley Smith and Italy’s Simone Corsi with French world champion Mike Di Meglio fifth. – Reuters