#NeverSayNever: Dovi wins to take the title fight to the wire

2017-10-29 16:14
Nerves of steel for the Italian as he slices through the rain to take back-to-back wins at Sepang

It was a must win in many ways for Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso as the paddock arrived at Sepang International Circuit, and the Italian kept calm under intense pressure to secure his sixth win of the season – and take the Championship fight down to the wire. Slicing through the rain to catch and pass teammate Jorge Lorenzo, Dovizioso was seven tenths clear of the Majorcan at the flag in a 1-2 for Ducatu – and key rival Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) crossed the line in fourth. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) completed the podium after a stunning start, wrapping up the title of top Independent Team rider.

It was Marquez who took an incredible initial holeshot from the third row, but the reigning Champion headed wide along with Lorenzo – allowing Zarco to slice through into the lead. Once there, the Frenchman lit it up to escape into the distance, and Lorenzo moved through to chase the Tech 3 rider down. Marquez slotted into third, with Dovizioso initially the man to lose out – but the Italian soon began to move through.

Zarco’s lead began to diminish, Dovizioso passed Marquez, and then both Ducatis were able to pass the Frenchman. It seemed Marquez would have the pace to take third from Zarco, but the reigning Champion couldn’t make up the ground. At the front, Lorenzo was holding firm as the two red machines streaked away – but the number 99 then suffered a moment at Turn 15 with a foot off the footpeg. ‘DesmoDovi’ saw his chance to strike, then facing down some nervous laps as the end of the race neared. Lorenzo brought it back to seven tenths over the line, with Zarco back on the rostrum in third.

Marquez was eight seconds further back in fourth, with polesitter and teammate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) completing the top five after a more promising showing in the wet for the former winner at the venue in similar conditions. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) put in a superstar performance in the wet as he was forced to start from the back after a technical problem with his number one bike, and moved up to take sixth over the line – a gain of over 15 places.

Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was close to his compatriot by the end of the race to take seventh and only four tenths back, ahead of a more lonely finish for EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller into P8. Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) had a tough race for ninth, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory) giving KTM another consecutive top ten finish after another impressive race.

Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) took P11, with the points scorers completed by Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing), Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda.)

It’s now truly everything or nothing for the two title challengers, and the Championship comes back to Europe for the final showdown at Valencia. Marquez leads by 21 points, so it’s a long shot for ‘DesmoDovi’…but never, ever say never.
MotoGP Race Results
1 - Andrea Dovizioso (ITA - Ducati) 44'51.497
2 - Jorge Lorenzo (SPA - Ducati) + 0.743

1st Independent Team Rider:
3 - Johann Zarco (FRA - Yamaha) +9.738
Oliveira unstoppable as Morbidelli celebrates in style


Back-to-back: Oliveira put KTM on top once again at Sepang
Moto2 Podium (L-R): Binder, Oliveira, Morbidelli
Another KTM 1-2 in Malaysia as Binder takes second – and the new World Champion completes the podium
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took back-to-back wins for the first time in Moto2™ with a stunning demolition job at Sepang International Circuit, over five seconds clear at one point and putting in a faultless ride to the flag despite the late threat of rain. Rookie teammate Brad Binder made it another 1-2 for the Austrian factory as he took his second Moto2™ podium in second, able to get past new Moto2™ World Champion Franco Morbidelli in the latter stages. The number 21 – who has led the standings all year – completed the rostrum.

Earlier in the day it was announced that key title rival Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) had been declared unfit to race, so Morbidelli’s 29 point advantage going into the Malaysian GP was enough to secure the crown. But celebrations waited until after the flag, when the customary number one was stuck to the front of Morbidelli’s EG 0,0 Marc VDS machine on the way back to parc ferme.

Behind the fastest three in front, Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) made a late charge to take advantage of the late rain flags and make it into fourth, three tenths ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) after the Rookie of the Year initially mounted a podium challenge then completed the top five. It was an even closer finish for sixth, with local hero Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) just catching and getting the better of front row starter Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40) by 0.078 seconds.

Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) and Isaac Viñales (BE-A-VIP SAG Team) were two more close finishers, just 0.068 apart in P8 and P9 respectively. Tetsuta Nagashima (Teluru SAG Team) completed the top ten after a solid ride for his best finish so far.

Simone Corsi and Augusto Fernandez (Speed Up), Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team), Iker Lecuona and Jesko Raffin (Garage Plus Interwetten) completed the points scorers – with a number of high profile DNFs in the race, including one for Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).

Now the title is wrapped up and a little more history has been made, it’s back to European soil for the final circus of the season in Valencia.

Moto2 Results
1 - Miguel Oliveira (POR - KTM) 40'28.955
2 - Brad Binder (RSA - KTM) +2.387
3 - Franco Morbidelli (ITA - Kalex) +6.878

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