1st in 7 years for Dovizioso

> Ital­ian pulls away from Rossi to win Malaysia Mo­toGP

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

AN­DREA DOVIZIOSO won his first Mo­toGP race in seven years yes­ter­day, pulling away from mo­tor­cy­cling le­gend Valentino Rossi late in the Malaysia Grand Prix to take the che­quered flag for Du­cati.

Start­ing from the pole po­si­tion, the Ital­ian fell back early as a num­ber of rid­ers ap­peared to strug­gle with a rain-soaked track.

But he steadily reeled in his com­pa­triot Rossi, tak­ing the lead back with six laps to go and quickly open­ing up a gap as Rossi was slowed by tyre is­sues.

Dovizioso, 30, fin­ished 3.115secs ahead of Rossi for his maiden win of the sea­son and first since 2009.

Rossi, mean­while, clinched sec­ond place in the 2016 world cham­pi­onship over his Yamaha team­mate Jorge Lorenzo, who fin­ished third Sun­day at the Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit.

“Well, it was in 2009, a long time,” a clearly re­lieved Dovizioso said of the ex­tended wait for a win.

“It’s re­ally nice to come to this mo­ment. In th­ese con­di­tions I strug­gled a lot in the race and had some prob­lems, but I re­ally wanted it.”

The race be­gan after a short de­lay due to one of the Sepang cir­cuit’s sig­na­ture trop­i­cal down­pours that doused the track.

Rid­ers have com­plained this week that the newly repaved track was tak­ing too long to dry in some spots, forc­ing them to stay on their toes as they pass from dry to wet patches.

Much of the race was a grip­ping duel be­tween Rossi and Dovizioso’s Du­cati team­mate An­drea Ian­none, who was re­turn­ing to the track for the first time since he suf­fered a ver­te­brae frac­ture in a crash in early Septem­ber.

After Rossi snatched the lead early, it re­peat­edly changed hands be­tween him and Ian­none over the first 10 laps as they ag­gres­sively dived un­der each other with inches to spare on Sepang’s tight curves.

But when Ian­none crashed out on lap 12, Dovizioso pounced, quickly over­tak­ing Rossi, stretch­ing a siz­able lead and hold­ing on for the win.

Rossi said he be­gan suf­fer­ing prob­lems as the track grad­u­ally dried over the course of the race.

“When the wa­ter (be­came) less, I had a prob­lem with the front tyre and had to slow down,” said the 37-yearold nine-time world cham­pion.

“It’s a shame be­cause we would have liked to win but its good to get sec­ond place in the cham­pi­onship.”

Honda rider Marc Mar­quez had al­ready clinched the world cham­pi­onship two weeks ear­lier in Ja­pan. – AFP

RE­SULTS (TOP 10) 2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 4. Hec­tor Bar­bera (SPA) Du­cati 6. Mav­er­ick Vi­nales (SPA) Suzuki 8. Jack Miller (AUS) Honda

10. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Du­cati STAND­INGS (TOP 10)

2. Valentino Rossi 4. Mav­er­ick Vi­nales 6. Dani Pe­drosa 8. Pol Es­par­garo 10. An­drea Ian­none

236 155 96

AFPPIX

1. An­drea Dovizioso (ITA) Du­cati 3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 7. Al­varo Bautista (SPA) Aprilia 9. Pol Es­par­garo (SPA) Yamaha 278 208 162 141 97 Mo­vis­tar Yamaha Mo­toGP’s Ital­ian rider Valentino Rossi (L) pours cham­pagne on Du­cati Team’s Ital­ian rider and race win­ner An­drea Dovizioso on the podium after the 2016 Malaysian Mo­toGP at the Sepang In­ter­na­tional cir­cuit yes­ter­day. –

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