Round 17 Malaysian MotoGP – Sepang International Circuit
The Marquez vs Dovi show will be on again for the final round and the final showdown in Valencia after Dovi wheelied over the line in a wet (surprise, surprise) race in Sepang. I will be happy for either one of these amazing riders to win the championship and am pretty happy that it has come down to the last race with Dovi holding off Marquez’s hopes with just 21 points between them.
It was Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa who secured pole position for the hot and steamy race, with the Spaniard content with his result “I’m very happy with this pole, which is our third this year. It’s a nice feeling because I usually struggle in qualifying, but the track improved a lot with today’s sunny conditions, offering good grip. Both tyres worked very well in qualifying, so I was able to find the rhythm on my first flying lap and set a good time, and then I pushed harder and improved on my second run. I made a couple of little mistakes but it was enough for the pole, which is fantastic. I’m happy for the team, as this pole is for them. We’ll have to see what the conditions are like for the race as we’re still struggling in the wet, so we’re really hoping for the sun tomorrow.”
Pedrosa’s teammate Marquez had a run of bad luck during qualifying, crashing on his first flying lap which was looking to be a doozy. He was able to return to the garage before the end of the session to try again on his second bike and while running a great pace was out of time to challenge the front runner, and had to settle on starting the race from seventh.
Dovi started the race from third on the grid with Rookie of the Year Johann Zarco slotting in ahead of Dovi to start from second.
As the race began and Marquez looked to be taking holeshot, it appeared that maybe this was game over but Marquez ran wide losing places as Johann Zarco followed by Dani Pedrosa took the lead positions. Throughout the race there was much toing and froing with everyone using their best math skills to figure out if Marquez could win the championship at every corner. Once in the lead Zarco sped off to leaving the other riders far behind. But it was not to be his moment as Jorge Lorenzo followed by Marquez with Pedrosa and Dovi drawing up the rear. As the race continued Dovi was able to pass Marquez into third and now Zarco was being hunted by the two Ducati’s. They were able to bridge the gap and eventually the teammates both passed the Frenchman with Lorenzo leading the race. After a mistake from Lorenzo on lap 16, Dovi was able to capitalise and take the lead managing to keep his cool under this immense championship pressure to cross the line in first. Lorenzo was able to shorten the gap produced by his mishap but was about 7 tenths shy of beating his teammate but still making it a 1-2 for Ducati. Marquez despite closing in on Zarco was still eight seconds behind him and had to settle for fourth with Zarco taking the final podium spot. Zarco was also awarded the title of Top Independent Team Rider 2017 after previously being awarded Rookie of the Year 2017. Pedrosa who began from pole finished behind his teammate in fifth.
Ride of the day has to go to Danilo Petrucci who was forced to start the race from the back of the grid after suffering a technical problem. He was able to smash through the field making up 15 places to finish in an amazing sixth place. What a legend. Petrucci finished the race ahead of Valentino Rossi, Jack Miller, Maverick Vinales and Pol Espargaro who made up the top ten.
Racing now heads back to Europe for the final race of the season and importantly the title decided with this race bringing the points difference to 21 keeping Dovi in the running for Champion. It will be a tense few days for both Dovi and Marquez as they prepare for battle and an exciting time for fans.
1st: Andrea Dovizioso
“I’m very pleased for the win which keeps my hopes alive for the title, and even though I know it will be very difficult at Valencia because it’s a track where Marquez always goes well, we’ll be going to Spain with confidence to try and bring home the victory.”
2nd: Jorge Lorenzo
“I wanted to win the race but was not prepared to do something crazy. I lost grip in the front in turn 15. I thought I was going to crash. I did not want to crash into Dovizioso.
3rd: Johann Zarco
“It is okay Lorenzo and Dovizioso overtook me. They are much better riders.
I am happy with a third position. We had a good day. I am highly motivated for the season-ending race in Valencia.”
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