|Jorge Lorenzo clinched the 2010 MotoGP championship on a day that saw Valentino Rossi return to winning ways in Malaysia. Third place for Lorenzo – his thirteenth podium from fifteen races so far this year – was enough to make him only the second Spanish rider ever to win the premier-class crown.|
Rossi meanwhile put on one of the displays of his career after dropping to 11th at the start, taking his 46th win for Yamaha on the number 46 M1. The 20th edition of the Malaysian Grand Prix drew a crowd of 62,000 fans who saw Rossi attained his consecutive victories at the Sepang International Circuit and Jorge Lorenzo affirmed as the new King of MotoGP.
Lorenzo got a brilliant start from pole and set off in front with Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso in tow, whilst Rossi, starting sixth, slipped right back through the field in the charge to turn one. A few corners were enough to let the Italian know that all was not lost and he quickly began to pick off his competitors, scything through the field to make it up to third by just the fourth lap.
By now Dovizioso was putting pressure on Lorenzo and on lap nine the Spaniard gave way to the Italian, knowing that finishing safely would be sufficient for the title. Next time around Rossi passed his team-mate and set off after his compatriot, despatching Dovizioso in turn at exactly the same point on the next lap. Dovizioso mounted one more challenge four laps from the end but Rossi was determined to stand on top of the podium and eventually crossed the line 0.244 seconds ahead. The win moves Rossi up to third in the championship, one point ahead of Casey Stoner.
The day belonged to Lorenzo as he captured his first MotoGP title, adding to his two 250cc crowns from previous years. It was a special moment for the Spaniard, who has won seven races this year and finished off the podium only twice in a remarkable display of consistency that shows him to be a deserving champion.
Dovizioso scored a hard-fought second-place result in the Malaysian Grand Prix, crossing the finish line just two tenths of a second behind Rossi. It was the Italian’s second consecutive runner-up result, following his identical finish in last Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Honda satellite riders who shined at the World’s Hottest race included; Hiroshi Aoyama, Marco Melandri, Marco Simoncelli (above) and Randy de Puniet. Aoyama topped the lot with a seventh place finish, his best ever in MotoGP, while Simoncelli was eighth, Melandri ninth and de Puniet tenth.
Aoyama made his way through the pack from 14th position on lap one. The Japanese climbed up the ranks throughout the race and at one stage of the race was in the group going for fourth place. In the closing stages, he fought a breathtakingly close-quarters battle for sixth place with Nicky Hayden and fellow rookie Simoncelli. The two Hondas touched at turn two on lap 17, and the incident allowed Hayden to pass both of them and secure sixth. Aoyama managed to edge out Simoncelli for seventh.
Simoncelli rode a strong race after qualifying down in 11th, but the heat got to him and he was struggling with physical and vision problems in the late stages. He ended eighth just ahead of his team mate by four tenths of a second. Melandri had looked capable of a good result here but once again he ran into front issues, which caused him to run wide and drop several places at one-third distance. After that he recovered well, revelling in the heat while Simoncelli suffered.
Ducati failed to capitalize on podium results at Sepang as expected with Hayden finishing sixth and Stoner crashing out in the early stages of the race. The pair made a strong start, Stoner launching from the second row to edge ahead of Hayden for third place into turn one as they looked to mount a twin assault on the podium positions. However, Hayden lost touch with the lead group when Stoner slid out in front of him in the final corner at the end of the first lap. From there the American became embroiled in a battle with a group of hard charging riders, who he was forced to concede positions to due to unexpected difficulties under braking.
Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista (above) produced the ride of his season so far to take fifth place at Sepang. Bautista started from eighth on the grid but was forced back to 11th after contact in the second corner, improving to 10th on lap one, a position he held until the middle of the fourth lap when he picked off the next rider as he began his progression through the field. As the race wore on he got involved in a four bike battle with Simoncelli, Aoyama and Hayden, before Bautista made the move of the day and passed Simoncelli and Aoyama at the same time to move into fifth on the 17th lap. Bautista tried to close the gap on fourth placed Ben Spies, but there were not enough laps left and he brought his Suzuki home for a season equalling best finish. Team mate Loris Capirossi suffered yet more heartbreak as he was forced to retire with an electrical fault.
The MotoGP contingent now head over to Phillip Island in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix in a week’s time.
1 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha Team 41:03.448
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Repsol Honda + 0.224
3 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha +6.035
4 Ben SPIES Yamaha Tech 3 13.676
5 Alvaro BAUTISTA Suzuki 15.402
6 Nicky HAYDEN Ducati Team 18.826
7 Hiroshi AOYAMA Honda 20.218
8 Marco SIMONCELLI Honda 23.574
9 Marco MELANDRI Honda 23.964
10 Randy DE PUNIET Honda 31.85
11 Hector BARBERA Aspar 38.579
12 Mika KALLIO Pramac 38.849
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 313
2. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 228
3. Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 181
4. Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 180
5. Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 179
6. Ben Spies Yamaha USA 152
7. Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 139
8. Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 94
9. Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 92
10. Marco Melandri Honda ITA 86
11. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 81
12. Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 74
13. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 69
14. Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 52
15. Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 44
21. Wataru Yoshikawa Yamaha JPN 1