The 2017 MotoGP™ title race remains alive, thanks to Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso.
In the big wet of Sepang on Sunday, Dovizioso powered to his sixth win of the season, ahead of teammate Jorge Lorenzo, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and world champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda).
The victory reduced Marquez’s lead to 21 points, with just one round remaining at Valencia in Spain in two weeks’ time.
Dovizioso was brilliant, moving past Lorenzo with four laps to go after the Spaniard lost the front end and nearly crashed at Turn 15.
From there, Dovi held his nerve to bring up his sixth win of the season – a magnificent riposte after he struggled at Phillip Island last week.
"It’s nice to be able to say we couldn’t have done more," said Dovizioso.
"We had a perfect weekend. We improved in the dry from practice to practice, and in the wet we knew our bike worked very well.
"The grip was so low in the race, maybe because there was so much rubber down. At the beginning I took some time to get smooth again because I wasn’t as comfortable as practice.
“Nobody was pushing me from behind so I took some time to understand my positives and negatives and I was able to catch Jorge. He was very fast today and I had to concentrate to catch him.
"To show everyone with our work we can really be competitive, at this difficult track, in the dry and the wet, but at Valencia it's a lot of points and I think Marc will be competitive from the beginning.
All we can do there is the same, try to be competitive and win the race."
Marquez is now on 282 points after 17 of 18 rounds, with Dovi on 261 followed by Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha, 226), Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha, 197), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda, 185) and Zarco (154).
Pedrosa, who started from pole position, was fifth at Sepang, ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Ducati), Rossi, Aussie Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda), Vinales and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Racing).
“The opening laps were not easy with the grip levels and it was struggle to stay on the track especially when I was on the left side of the tyre, I was just trying to stay on two wheels,” said Miller.
“It was a little scary. But from halfway in the race the rear tyre started working better and I was able to make up some positions and grab eighth. Overall a good weekend, I was very strong in the dry and this was my second top 10 since coming back from the broken leg so I'm now looking for more points in Valencia.”
- Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team, 44:51.497
- Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team +0.743s
- Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3, +9.738s
Australian: 8. Jack Miller, EG 0,0 Marc VDS, +35.238s
Pole position: Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, 1:59.212 = 167.3km/h
Fastest lap: Dovizioso 2:13.084 = 149.9km/h
Championship top 3
- Marquez 282
- Dovizioso 261
- Maverick Vinales 226
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) claimed the 2017 Moto2™ title at Sepang without having to turn a wheel in the race.
That was after his closest rival Tom Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten) highsided heavily in qualifying and was declared unfit for the race.
With an unassailable lead of 29 points over Luthi, the live championhip ladder suddenly became redundant and Morbidelli was crowned the official champion.
He’s the first Italian winner of the Moto2™ title since its inception in 2010, and before that his late countryman Marco Simoncelli won the intermediate class in 2008.
Before Sepang, Morbidelli – who rose through the Italian and European Superstock 600 ranks on his way to the Moto2™ title – took five wins 10 podiums and five pole positions.
Morbidelli added to his pole count at Sepang, but the Moto2™ race was won in convinching fashion for the second week in a row by Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira ahead of his South African teammate Brad Binder. It was also the second consecutive one-two for KTM.
Morbidelli finished in third position.
“This is an incredible feeling and now the reality is sinking in after the race,” said Morbidelli.
“I am so happy for myself but also sorry for Tom Lüthi who could not race today. However, I have done a great season with fantastic support from my team even though we suffered some down days.
“I wanted to make a good race today and get on the podium on the day we secured the championship.”
The field could not hold a touch to the Portugese flyer Oliveira, as he again sent another warning to the Moto2™ paddock that he could be the man to beat in 2018.
The fast-finishing Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) finished in fourth position, ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia).
Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP40) looked to be safe in fouth with a few laps to run before being swamped by his opposition at the death knell.
There were crashes for Alex Marquez (EG 0,0), Aussie Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) and Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia).
- Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Ajo, 40:28.955
- Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Ajo, +2.387
- Franco Morbidelli, EG 0,0, +6.878
Australian: DNF. Remy Gardner, Tech 3 Racing, +18 laps
Pole position: Morbidelli, 2:06.406 = 157.8km/h
Fastest lap and new record: Oliveira, 2:06.942 = 157.1km/h
Championship top 3
- Morbidelli 288
- Tom Luthi 243
- Oliveira 216
Phillip Island-crowned world champion Joan Mir (Leopard Racing Honda) contiued his rich vein of form with yet another victory, as he edged clear of Spanish compatriot Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Honda) and Italian Enea Bastianini (EG 0,0 Honda) over the closing laps.
It was Mir’s 10th win in 17 races, in a season that still continues to grow in stature for the 2018 Moto2™ rider. Mir defeated runaway early leader Martin by 0.724 seconds, with Bastianini also less than a second behind the winner.
Livio Loi (Leopard Racing Honda) was fourth in the 18-lapper from John McPhee (British Talent Tesam Honda), Andrea Migno (Sky Rcaing Team VR46 KTM), Romano Fenatic (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda) and Aron Canet (EG 0,0 Honda).
Fenati was lucky to avoid being taken out of the race by Japan’s Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squara Corse Honda), who spectaculalry higsided on lap two and just missed landing on the back of the Italian’s machine.
Meanwhile, it was disappointment for local rider Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team Honda) who crashed out of fourth position before remounting and finshing in 11th.
- Joan Mir, Leopard Racing Honda, 40:14.545
- Jorge Martin, Del Conca Gresini Honda, +0.724
- Enea Bastianini, EG 0,0 Honda, +0.763
Pole position: Mir, 2:12.078 = 151km/h
Fastest lap and new record: Adam Norrodin, SIC Racing Team Honda, 2:12.775 = 150.2km/h
Championship top 3
- Mir 321
- Fenati 235
- Aron Canet 192
Final round: Valencia, Spain, November 10-12