Original article by Daniel Smith – MOTO Contributor
Another superb victory for Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso in the wet and difficult conditions at the #MalaysianGP this weekend means that the championship will still be on the line when the MotoGP paddock heads off to the final round in Valencia in two weeks’ time.
With series leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) coming home in a quiet fourth place, ‘Dovi’ cut the points deficit to 21 points with 25 still on the table, taking the premier class title fight right down to the wire for the third time in the last five seasons. The odds are stacked against him, but anything can, and often does, happen in MotoGP, and the Italian has had a season for the ages regardless of the final outcome.
The factory Ducati team completed a 1-2 finish as Jorge Lorenzo scored his best result of the season so far. There was apprehension regarding whether or not team orders would come into play as the laps wound down, but a near-catastrophic mistake at the final turn with only a few laps to go by the Spaniard let Dovizioso through for good and spared the Italian manufacturer from some harsh questioning.
Johann Zarco completed the podium for Tech 3 Yamaha after streaking away from the field early on before being reeled-in as his soft tire started to wear. The French rider sealed rookie of the year and top independent team rider honors in Malaysia, cementing the fact that he has been a sensation in 2017. Dani Pedrosa finished behind teammate Marquez in fifth, ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati), who had to start from the back of the field after suffering a mechanical failure on his number one bike on the formation lap.
Valentino Rossi again suffered in the wet on his Movistar Yamaha, and seventh was somewhat of a good finish considering that the Italian spent the early part of the race down in the region of twelfth position. Jack Miller (Marc VDS Honda) was eighth in his second race back from a broken leg, followed by Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha) and Pol Espargaro (KTM).
So, the 2017 MotoGP world championship will be decided over the final few laps of the season in Valencia. Dovizioso will have to win and hope that Marquez suffers some sort of serious setback in order to prevent the Honda rider from retaining the crown. Despite how difficult of a task that may prove to be, all eyes will be on the Ricardo Tormo circuit as another chapter of the greatest two-wheeled racing championship in the world comes to an climactic end.
Sepang MotoGP Results
1. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati 44 minutes 51.497 seconds
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Ducati +0.743s
3. Johann Zarco (Fra) Yamaha +9.738s
4. Marc Marquez (Spa) Honda +17.763s
5. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda +29.144s
6. Danilo Petrucci (Ita) Ducati +30.380s
7. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha +30.769s
8. Jack Miller (Aus) Honda +35.238s
9. Maverick Viñales (Spa) Yamaha +38.053s
10. Pol Espargaro (Spa) KTM +39.847s
1. Marc Marquez (Spa) Honda 282 points
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati 261
3. Maverick Viñales (Spa) Yamaha 226
4. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 197
5. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda 185
6. Johann Zarco (Fra) Yamaha 154
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Ducati 137
8. Danilo Petrucci (Ita) Ducati 121
9. Cal Crutchlow (GB) Honda 104
10. Jonas Folger (Ger) Yamaha 84