Marc Marquez wins the Malaysian Grand Prix as Valentino Rossi slides out of the lead.
Marc Marquez may have been crowned the 2018 world champion, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down. And the proof of this is his ninth victory of the season that came at the Malaysian Grand Prix, where Marquez took the chequered flag without any real trouble. That said, he was being challenged by his arch-rival and Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi for the most part of the race, albeit the latter crashed from the lead in the closing laps of the race. Alex Rins of Suzuki finished second, while Tech 3 Yamaha’s Johann Zarco.
Marquez qualified on pole, but was awarded a six-place grid penalty owing to him blocking Andrea Iannone on the racing line during the qualifying session. This meant he was demoted to P7, while Zarco moved to P1 and Rossi to P2. Rossi made the most of this as he had a cracking start and led the race from the very first lap. Zarco followed suit while Marquez got stuck with the middle pack. However, within four laps, Marquez, as expected, sliced through the field to take the second spot behind Rossi. Zarco stuck his M1 behind Marquez to hold on to the final podium position.
In the middle part of the race, Rossi looked supremely comfortable at the front, as he was hammering a series of consistently fast lap times. At one point, he increased his gap to Marquez to over 1.5s. However, towards the end, Marquez upped his pace and started reeling Rossi in to bring the gap down to 0.6s. Marquez was pushing too hard and his Honda made all sorts of shapes under braking, however, to the everyone’s surprise, it was Rossi who crumbled at the start of lap 17. The Doctor crashed out from the lead as Marquez waved past him.
With only three laps to go, Marquez rolled off the throttle and cruised to victory. The last lap also saw Rins overtake Zarco to take the second spot, while Maverick Vinales finished in fourth in yet another late laps charge. If he had qualified better (he was P11), Vinales could’ve been fighting for the win as he was running an identical race pace to that of Rossi’s.
Marquez’ teammate Dani Pedrosa finished the race in fifth. The joint efforts of the Repsol Honda riders also helped the team lift the 2018 Constructor’s Championship. Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso struggled to fight for the podium against early predictions and finished in sixth. Alvaro Bautista of Angel Nieto Ducati impressed again by finishing in seventh, ahead of the Pramac Ducati duo of Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci. Local racer and Tech 3 Yamaha’s Hafizh Syahrin put up a stunning show in front of his home crowd as he finished the race in tenth, despite starting from the back of the grid.