Malaysian GP: Dovizioso triumphs to keep championship hopes alive

Andrea Dovizioso led Jorge Lorenzo in a Ducati 1-2 finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix to keep his title hopes alive, heading into the season-ending Valencian Grand Prix.

Andrea Dovizioso cerebrates after winning the race of the Malaysia MotoGP at the Sepang International circuit in Sepang.   -  AP

In tough conditions, Andrea Dovizioso stood tall above the pack as he clinched his sixth win of the season and kept his championship hopes alive in a Ducati 1-2 finish, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo.

Johann Zarco took the other podium place, finishing 17 seconds ahead of leader Marc Marquez.

Marquez leads Dovizioso by 21 points ahead of the season finale in front of his home fans in Valencia in two weeks' time.

In a an engrossing season so far, the expected afternoon Malaysian tropical showers set things up for an intriguing battle and Marquez rocketed off the start line and almost went into the lead before being late on the brakes and running wide into turn one. This allowed Tech3 Yamaha rider Zarco to take the lead as Lorenzo slotted behind with Marquez third ahead of Dovizioso and pole-sitter Dani Pedrosa.

 

Marquez, who has struggled at Sepang in the past and had a troubled run leading up to Sunday’s race, couldn’t keep up with the leaders.

Dovizioso soon ran wide in the final corner to surrender the position but immediately fought back on the next lap to move to third.

Zarco who was leading comfortably having started on the soft rear tyres started to struggle as the race went on with the medium-shod Ducatis making big gains.

On lap eight, Lorenzo moved into the lead and Dovizioso wasted no time to move past the struggling Zarco on the same lap.

For the next seven laps, the two Ducatis pulled clear of the field but in the wrong order, which would have given Marquez the title. 

Chasing his first win for Ducati, Lorenzo showed no signs of letting his teammate pass by for the title. However, the former champion ran wide into the final corner of lap 16 that allowed Dovizioso to take the lead and keep his title hopes alive. 

Marquez, in his home race, if he finishes 11th, can seal his fourth title. But the momentum is now with the Italian.