The 2017 MotoGP championship is going to go down to the wire as Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso won the crucial MalaysianGP today. The factory Ducati rider ran a perfect race to win in Sepang while the championship leader, Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda, finished fourth. After today's race results, the difference between the two riders stands at 21 points going into the final round at Valencia. November 12 is when the ultimate showdown will take place.
At Sepang, the rain Gods yet again showed up moments before the race start to throw a spanner in the works. The race started in full-wet conditions. As the lights went out, pole-man Dani Pedrosa quickly dropped back to the fourth spot while teammate Marquez had a stellar start as he moved up to the second spot despite starting from seventh place. Johann Zarco made the most of his front row start as he led the race from the start ahead of Jorge Lorenzo. Dovizioso managed to stick with the front runners in fifth, before making a quick move on Pedrosa to clinch the fourth position.
Zarco kept on pulling away and had over two seconds advantage over Lorenzo, Marquez and Dovizioso. Soon enough Marquez and Dovizioso started toying with each other while Lorenzo upped the pace to challenge Zarco. A few laps later Dovizioso overtook Marquez so as to chase the front two. Lorenzo, too, was now closing in on Zarco.
Dovizioso looked stronger to take second from Lorenzo, but before that could happen, Lorenzo displaced Zarco to second place. Dovizioso wasted no time and overtook Zarco as well. Marquez, meanwhile, was now falling behind.
Once Lorenzo and Dovizioso broke away from Zarco, the top two Ducati riders traded fastest laps of the race one after another. At this point, everyone had just one question in mind, “will there be any team orders, asking Lorenzo to let Dovizioso through?”. You see, if Dovizioso had finished in second and Marquez in fourth, the championship would’ve automatically gone in Marquez’ kitty.
However, Ducati didn’t have to ask Lorenzo for any favours since the Spaniard made a big mistake, ran wide and nearly crashed. This allowed Dovizioso to take the lead from him and there was no looking back from then on. The Italian won his sixth race of the season, while teammate Lorenzo finished second – Ducati’s first 1-2 race finish in 2017.
Zarco tactfully made it to the podium in third, while Marquez did maximum damage limitation by finishing fourth. Pedrosa could only manage to finish in fifth. Danilo Pertrucci raced to an impressive sixth place despite starting from the pit-lane. Valentino Rossi was seventh, Jack Miller eighth and Pol Espargaro ninth. Maverick Vinales rounded out the top ten.