Andrea Dovizioso overcame a slick Sepang track, a fast teammate and long odds Sunday to keep his 2017 MotoGP championship quest alive in Malaysia with a sixth win of the season. The victory, coupled with points leader Marc Marquez's fourth-place finish, means the two riders now are separated by 21 points with the season's final race, Valencia, in two weeks.
Both riders have six wins. For Marquez to lock up his championship, he can finish 11th or higher in the final race regardless of Dovizioso's performance. If the pair end up tied in points -- a Dovizioso win coupled with a Marquez 12th -- then the Italian would take the champioship by virtue of race wins. In other words, the odds remain long for the 31-year-old Ducati rider to win his first MotoGP championship.
Dovizioso's teammate Jorge Lorenzo took second in the wet race after leading into the race's late stages. Rookie of the year Johann Zarco grabbed the final podium spot with a lonely third place, eight seconds ahead of fourth-place Marc Marquez. Pole-sitter Dani Pedrosa managed fifth after getting swamped at the race's start.
Danilo Petrucci climbed into sixth after starting at the back of the grid. The Italian had qualifed 13th but he ended up starting at back of a grid after a mechanical problem just before the start forced him into the pits and onto his backup bike. Valentino Rossi, who lined up at fourth on the grid only to get pushed to 13th on the first lap, fought his way back into seventh.
Jack Miller (8th), Maverick Vinales (9th) and Pol Espargaro completed the top 10.
The rain started in earnest just before the start of the MotoGP race. Zarco got the lead out of the first corner when both Marquez and Pedrosa ran wide into Turn 1. Lorenzo, too, pounced and pushed into second closely tracked by Marquez, Dovizioso and Pedrosa. Nearly right away, Zarco began pulling a gap on Lorenzo who, in turn, began to pull away from Marquez.
With 16 laps to go, Dovizioso began pressuring Marquez, passing him once and then once again for good a lap later. Within two more laps, the Italian began to gain on the front two riders, closing within six-tenths of Lorenzo. Lorenzo also began reeling in Zarco, passing him for good with 15 laps remaining. One lap later, Dovizioso also passed the Frenchman.
Soon, Zarco began falling off the pace of the two at the front. But he was still building a gap to Marquez who could not find a consistent pace on the Honda in the rain. With five laps left, Zarco had built a three-second lead over Marquez. At the front, Lorenzo was losing ground to Dovizioso. At Turn 15 with four laps left, Lorenzo nearly low-sided and ran wide, allowing Dovizioso through and into first -- a place he held to the finish line.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Bike||Time / Diff.|
|16||60||Michael VAN DER MARK||Yamaha||56.397|
|22||Sam LOWES||Aprilia||11 Laps|
|17||Karel ABRAHAM||Ducati||12 Laps|
|76||Loris BAZ||Ducati||15 Laps|
|42||Alex RINS||Suzuki||0 Lap|