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MotoGP Sepang: Dovizioso win takes title fight to the wire

Ducati’s Andrea Dovizoso took victory in today’s Sepang MotoGP to keep his title hopes alive as series leader Marc Marquez struggled in the wet conditions and finished in fourth place.

It is the biggest win of the Italian’s career so far but came only after a huge mistake from team-mate and race leader Jorge Lorenzo at turn 15 with five laps left saw him almost crash and allow the #04 GP17 past.

No team orders required


Marquez now leads Dovizioso by 21 points with 25 left at the Valencia finale in two weeks. It will take a win for the Ducati man and a finish outside the top 12 for Marquez in order for Dovi to take a first premier-class world title.

Johann Zarco bagged third place and secured the independent team title for Monster Yamaha. The Frenchman opted for the soft rear Michelin and shot into the lead on lap one, passing Marquez - who came from seventh to grab the holeshot into turn one - and then opening a gap but he didn’t have the grip to keep the two works Ducatis behind him.

Lorenzo followed Zarco into second past his countryman but Dovizoso took some time to make the move on his title rival. After four laps, Dovi put a move on Marquez at turn 14 but then ran wide at the last corner and Marquez tried to go underneath the Desmosedici.

Zarco hung on to the lead until just before half distance as Lorenzo swooped at turn nine to take the lead. Dovizioso didn’t want to let his team-mate get away and took second from the Frenchman at turn 13. It was then a straight fight between the two Bologna bikes.

Team orders would have had to come into play at some point if Ducati were to keep the chances of a world title alive. Lorenzo and Dovizioso traded fastest laps as they pulled away from Zarco, and then a televised dash-call from pitlane showed an instruction for Lorenzo to change his engine map with six laps left.

Speculation was rife that this was the code to allow Dovizoso past but a lap later, Lorenzo lost the front into turn 15 and Dovizioso took his chance to grab the lead. Lorenzo said in parc ferme that he probably would have fought back had it been not Dovizioso he was fighting with, but it was, so he didn’t, and gave up the chance of his first win.

Marquez eventually crossed the line nine seconds behind Dovizioso while Dani Pedrosa, who was woeful in wet practice on Friday, was another ten seconds further back on the second Repsol Honda. Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci came from the back of the grid after a problem with his number one GP17 to claim sixth.

Valentino Rossi took seventh place but 45s behind Dovizioso and struggled with an M1 that still won’t find traction in the rain. Movistar Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales was two places further back, beaten by Jack Miller to eighth. Pol Espargaro completed the top ten.

Bradley Smith and Scott Redding followed Alvaro Bautista across the line while Cal Crutchlow’s wet-weather pace continues to let him down. He took the last available point, five seconds ahead of Michael van der Mark who was in his first-ever MotoGP race. Sam Lowes crashed twice before calling it a day.


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