Andrea Dovizioso came out on top from a race-long battle with Valentino Rossi at the Sepang International Circuit Sunday to win his first race of the year and become the ninth different winner of the 2016 MotoGP season. The win, the second of Dovizioso's career, moved him into fifth in the championship with one race remaining.
Valentino Rossi, who faded to second with late-race, rain-tire problems, locked up runner-up in the championship over teammate Jorge Lorenzo (3rd). The Spaniard, who climbed toward the podium during the race as riders in front of him crashed -- Marc Marquez, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Ianonne among them -- increased his hold on third place in the championship with his podium finish.
Hector Barbara's fourth was the satellite Ducati rider's best MotoGP finish. Teammate Loris Baz's fifth was his second top-10 finish in 2016. Maverick Vinales came in sixth and as the top Suzuki after teammate Aleix Espargaro crashed. (He would remount to finish 13th.) Alvaro Bautista (7th) had another strong showing on the Aprilia, beating Jack Miller (8th) by seven seconds. Pol Espargaro (9th) and Danilo Petrucci (10th) completed the top 10.
Initially, the contest was delayed for 30 minutes and then declared a wet race after a downpour soaked the 5.5 km (3.4 mi.) track. Lorenzo got the holeshot and held it for several corners before getting swallowed up by the charging pack. By the end of lap one, it was Andrea Iannone, Rossi, Dovizioso, Marquez, Lorenzo and Crutchlow. The race settled into a brief rhythm.
With 15 laps to go, Crutchlow stepped up his pace and began to clock the race's fastest laps. He moved past Lorenzo and into fifth. Rossi and Iannone swapped places a handful of times. Crutchlow continued to quicken and began to challenge Marquez. Dovizioso also began picking up speed.
With 10 laps remaining, Ianonne still held the lead with Rossi challenging. Marquez then began to push. The Spanish rider had chosen to use carbon disc brakes -- most riders chose cooler-operating steel for the rain -- and it appeared the brakes had finally gotten to the correct temperature, allowing Marquez to brake deeper. His lap times dropped. Crutchlow crashed trying to keep up.
But two laps later, Marquez too went down at Turn 11. He remounted and finished the race and climbed to 11th by the end. At the front, it was now Rossi, Dovizioso and Iannone who was now falling back. With seven laps to go Iannone crashed, leaving Rossi and Dovizioso at the front and Lorenzo in a distant third. But with five laps remaining in the race, Rossi ran wide at Turn 1.
Dovizioso cut inside and into the lead for good. Rossi immediately fell off the pace with Dovizioso stretching his lead to four seconds within a single lap. He would go on to win by three seconds. Dovizioso's last win was at Donnington Park in 2009 on a Honda.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Bike||Time / Diff.|
|29||Andrea IANNONE||Ducati||7 Laps|
|35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Honda||8 Laps|
|68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||Ducati||8 Laps|