Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Sepang:
Valentino Rossi ended the longest winless streak of his career in the MotoGP race at Sepang, taking his 46th victory on a Yamaha, and his 79th in the premier class. Rossi also secured a secondary goal, taking away some of the attention from his Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who also comfortably wrapped up the 2010 MotoGP championship.
Victory for Rossi looked unlikely after the start, as the nine-time World Champion had trouble getting off the line, then got beat up in the first section, crossing the line at the end of the first lap down in 8th. By contrast, his bitterest rival and Fiat Yamaha teammate had got a fantastic start, firing into the first corner in the lead, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso and Ben Spies. Spies' 3rd spot would not last until the end of the first section, though, the Marlboro Ducati's of Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden soon through on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider. Casey Stoner's success would not last, however, as the Australian - and winner of the last two races - ran into an old and unwelcome problem, losing the front going into turn 15 and crashing out of the race.
At the front, Andrea Dovizioso was using the superior acceleration of his Repsol Honda to pull out of Lorenzo's draft and pass him, but Lorenzo dived back underneath on the brakes into the final corner, and took back the lead before they crossed the line. Dovi tried again on the front straight, but once again Lorenzo held him off on the brakes for Turn 1. Dovi continued to snap away at Lorenzo's tail, but could not get close enough to attack, the pair starting to build a lead over the chasing group.
After Stoner crashed, the composition of the chasing group started to change. San Carlo Gresini's Marco Simoncelli had barged his way forward, and had soon elbowed both Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden aside. But hot on Simoncelli's tail came his friend and countryman Valentino Rossi. Rossi was clearly on a mission in Malaysia, and was not prepared such trifles as a miserable start stand in his way. Lapping close to Casey Stoner's lap record from 2007, Rossi pushed hard to get past Simoncelli, diving underneath at Turn 9, his trademark pass at Sepang, then closed down the 2 second gap to Lorenzo and Dovizioso.
Before Rossi could arrive, Dovizioso got past Lorenzo, taking over the lead into Turn 1, again capitalizing on the speed of the Honda out of Turn 15 and along the front straight. A lap later, as the halfway mark approached, Rossi was on Lorenzo, and muscled his way through at Turn 9 again. A lap later, Rossi was past Dovizioso in exactly the same place and in exactly the same way, taking over the lead at Turn 9 on lap 11.
With memories of the brutal scrap at Motegi freshly in his mind, the red mist threatened to descend over Jorge Lorenzo, almost falling into Rossi's trap. But after a couple of laps of pushing Dovizioso and Rossi, cooler judgement prevailed, and Lorenzo settled back into his own rhythm and crossing the line in one piece. With nothing threatening from behind, Lorenzo could concentrate on riding smoothly, and celebrate his first ever MotoGP championship with a podium. That was more than good enough for today.
Jorge Lorenzo may have taken himself out of the equation, but Andrea Dovizioso had a lot less to lose and was much less inclined just to roll over for Valentino Rossi. Doviosozo closed the gap on Rossi's initial but small lead, and started to harass the nine-time world champion. At the start of lap 16, Dovizioso used the Honda Lane to full effect, motoring past Rossi on power and into the lead at Turn 1. His lead would last just half a lap, though, as Rossi was once again past at Turn 9, pulling the same block pass into the tight left hander that he had been using all day.
From here, it was a race to the line, and try as Dovizioso might, he could not prevent Rossi from taking victory. The Italian closed off Dovizioso's final avenue of attack into the last corner, crossing the line to take the win, Rossi's first since Qatar earlier this year. Dovizioso was forced to settle for 2nd, while Jorge Lorenzo crossed the line in 3rd, ecstatic at clinching the championship.
While the racing at the front was close, the battle behind was scintillating. Marco Simoncelli's progress had been halted once he'd been passed by Valentino Rossi, and the San Carlo Gresini rider fell back into the clutches of a group consisting of Ben Spies, Hiroshi Aoyama and Alvaro Bautista, with Nicky Hayden languishing not far behind. Spies was the first man through, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider making short work of the hirsute Italian, and went on to secure a comfortable 4th. Aoyama and Bautista had a much tougher time with Simoncelli, and the three riders beating each other up allowed Nicky Hayden to catch the trio.
Bautista eventually came out on top, but only after a hare-brained move by Simoncelli - making an impossible pass up the inside of Aoyama in Turn 2, after Aoyama had finessed the Italian into Turn 1 - ran both Simoncelli and Aoyama wide, allowing Bautista to escape and Hayden to follow. Bautista went on to secure an impressive 5th place, while Hayden took 6th. Justice was served for Aoyama, as the Interwetten Honda rider got past Simoncelli to secure 7th. Simoncelli, in turn, just hung on to beat his San Carlo Gresini Honda teammate Marco Melandri to 8th, while LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet rounded out the top 10.
After the race was over, the battle between Rossi and Lorenzo continued, each vying for the attention of the camera. Lorenzo produced a celebration revolving around the Super Mario Brothers computer game, while down in Parc Ferme, Rossi grabbed a pit board with his 46 wins and waved it at the camera. In retaliation - or to avoid the conflict - Lorenzo took his podium champagne downstairs, and sprayed it around his team in Parc Ferme. The two then grudgingly acknowledged each other's achievements in the TV press conferences.
With the championship out of the way, Lorenzo can once again relax and start focusing on racing. The Spaniard still has a score to settle with his teammate, and Rossi will welcome the confrontation. With Phillip Island and Estoril coming up, two tracks which are well-suited to on-track battles, we could be in for a treat. Neither man has anything to lose anymore, and both have points they want to make to each other on track, and with force.
On a side note, the racing threw up one other interesting storyline. The race had been reduced from 21 to 20 laps at the request of the riders, as 21 laps can prove to be too grueling in Sepang's tropical heat. That gave the bikes a little extra fuel to play with, and it immediately showed in the racing. None of the bikes had to run lean to make it to the line, giving back a little bit more control to the riders. With the 1000cc CRT bikes due to have three whole liters extra in 2012, this suggests the racing could get considerably better the season after next.
|10||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||41'35.298||31.850|
|41||Aleix ESPARGARO||DUCATI||12'37.164||14 laps|
|65||Loris CAPIROSSI||SUZUKI||8'25.612||16 laps|
|Not enough laps completed|
|5||Colin EDWARDS||YAMAHA||41'58.835||6 laps|
|Not finished first lap|