Spain’s Dani Pedrosa won the Malaysian MotoGP on Sunday, as Jorge Lorenzo snatched second place to cut into championship leader Valentino Rossi’s points lead.
The result at Malaysia’s Sepang track sets the stage for a thrilling climax to the season, as Yamaha teammates Lorenzo and Rossi will battle it out in the year’s final race next month at Valencia in Spain.
Starting in pole position, Pedrosa never relinquished the lead for Honda.
Lorenzo — who started in the second row, and 11 points behind Rossi for the world championship — burst ahead of the other riders on lap 2 to seize the second position behind his compatriot Pedrosa, and never let go.
That left the Italian legend Rossi and defending champion Marc Marquez in a tense, see-saw fight for third, which ended when Marquez crashed into Rossi on lap 7 and had to retire.
The result leaves Lorenzo now just seven points behind Rossi in the two-man contest for the crown.
Lorenzo had earlier gained ground on Rossi in the Australian Grand Prix, where he finished second place, to the Italian’s fourth.
Rossi, 36, is seeking his 10th world championship, and Lorenzo his third.
Pedrosa clocked 40 minutes 37.691 seconds, 3.612sec ahead of Lorenzo and 13.724sec faster than rival Rossi.
Meanwhile, the usual post race press conference has been delayed as race directors are investigating a crash between Spanish Marquez and Rossi in lap seven.
Marquez was apparently seen on video crashing into the right side of Rossi’s machine when he was attempting to bulldoze his way to third position.
Marquez, who started second on the grid, was subsequently forced to retire from the race. – Agence France-Presse