2017 Sepang MotoGP Race: A Pair Of Sixes With A King Nigh

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.
1 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 44'51.497
2 99 Jorge LORENZO Ducati 0.743
3 5 Johann ZARCO Yamaha 9.738
4 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 17.763
5 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda 29.144
6 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 30.38
7 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 30.769
8 43 Jack MILLER Honda 35.238
9 25 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 38.053
10 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 39.847
11 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati 42.559
12 38 Bradley SMITH KTM 44.602
13 45 Scott REDDING Ducati 48.696
14 8 Hector BARBERA Ducati 50.058
15 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 50.705
16 60 Michael VAN DER MARK Yamaha 56.397
17 29 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki 58.391
18 53 Tito RABAT Honda +1'25.571
Not Classified      
  22 Sam LOWES Aprilia 11 Laps
  17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 12 Laps
  76 Loris BAZ Ducati 15 Laps
  42 Alex RINS Suzuki 0 Lap


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Congratulations Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo & Ducati. The Motogp world championship title goes down to the final race!

Another very good ride from DesmoDovi. Good second for JLO99. Sweet podium for Zarco. What happened to Marquee Marc today? Jack Miller finishes ahead of Maverick. Good job JackAssen. Both KTMs in the points. Job well done Michael Van der Mark.

Valencia should be fun.

Another boring rain race. Getting tired of these for sure. Guess it can't be helped but we've been robbed so much this year (with the exception of Motegi perhaps). I never understand when I see people getting excited when it starts to rain.

As soon as the Ducatis got past Zarco the race was over. No way in hell Lorenzo would actually fight Dovi. Good race by both though, great to see Zarco on the podium and shame Van der Mark couldn't score a point but still a good debut. Is it known if he will ride again in Valencia?

All in all a strange race. The Ducati 1 - 2 was needed and got delivered. And Zarco was perfect doing his best to save the tires and his position until the end.
The only real thrill was whether Dovi was going to keep the championship alive....
And I must say that this time (and it's not a first time) luck was not on his side... for the show and the thrill we needed Petrucci and the 2 yamahas in the mix
MM could well afford 4th but not 7th at the finish line.
Well, the stars did not align for Dovi.
But both him and MM were perfect. That start from MM was superb and strategic: who would bet against him in Valencia?

He qualified 13th but I completely forgot about that late mechanical problem which forced him onto the backup bike and the back of the grid at the start. Changed the story to reflect that. 

what would have happened if it were to dry up?

everyone else would have come in for a dry bike. was was danillo's bike repaired and waiting or would he have had to keep going round on his wets?

He sure had all bases covered this weekend in every session. So my anticipation and prediction of Marc pulling the T-shirt on this Sunday are debunked. 6 wins in a season with I still believe no chance of lifting the crown jewel in Valencia. Dovi's racecraft was superlative from tire choice to chequred flag. Lorenzo's save in turn 15 was as good as Marc's in FP4 turn 1. Rain did play a part in Ducati's double no doubt. The thing that I do not understand is still their poor performance at PI in the dry. PI and Sepang are not that different, both fast and flowing with undulations. Dovi and Jorge were strong all weekend this event in the dry yet in PI Ducati were useless. I can only put it down to track temperature and the way the Michelins work on the red bike. Marc rode a very smart race. When was the last time a guy won 6 races against Marc in a season? Right now, Dovi will be going for win #7 with no chance of the crown barring win #7 and A Marc DNF. There was a lot of banter as to how Valentino would try to duff Marc up and help Dovi in this race, revenge for 2015 and blah. If that was ever a proposition, Marc laid it to bed right at the start. Lorenzo was a great team player on the day. He made the one mistake and great save that let Dovi through and had the common sense to not try to fight back thus ensuring the team double. Absorbing race it was but not Motegi 2017. I think Jorge is delighted with his result. That downforce aero on the front may have cost him a little front tire wear more than he would have liked.

I agree with you it was a fun race watching it unfold live. It had plenty of tension. But yeah, Dovi and Ducati lost their championship with their inexplicably poor performance at PI. I will always remember that clucker of a race for them... 


Although I must disclose I'm rooting for MM, congratulations to Dovi for winning and keeping the championship alive. Marquez rode within his limit and limited the damages, he's a smart racer and hopefully he can finish off the season well. Dovi is now known as the "professor," for good reason. He's smart, cool, courageous and comfortable on the Ducati. He deserves the ALIEN moniker.

Next year is starting to look very interesting indeed. Dovi, Jorge, Zarco, will all be serious title contenders so Marquez, Vinales, Rossi, Pedrosa, all need to train hard and be ready. 

I expect good things from Morbideli and Luthi in their rookie seasons. 

MotoGp makes NFL and most other big name sports look boring. 

On to Valencia!!!!


I find it quite amusing to hear Dovi now having The Professor moniker, when for the last two years The Professor tag was given to Johann Zarco in Moto 2. I guess nick names aren't transferable between classes then.

Were it not for the very unusual occurance of a Honda engine self-destructing (MM93 at Silverstone), there would be no championship at stake in Valencia.