Dani Pedrosa wins in Malaysia. Photo: MotoGP
As all of the articles and discussions will be about other events in the Malaysian MotoGP race, it is important to report that Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda won the race from pole in definitive style. The lights went out and Pedrosa was never challenged thereafter. For a rider who had surgery to relieve an issue with arm pump to come back and win the past two races is a testament to the ability and dedication of the man who is often overlooked.
In second place on the Yamaha was Jorge Lorenzo who pushed past Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez in the opening laps and settled into a regular rhythm. Never challenging for the win, Lorenzo managed the tyres and played the long game. Finishing in front of Rossi so as to take the title battle to Valencia, if they both finished, was the primary consideration.
With Marquez in third, Rossi in fourth and the two of them on the same part of the race track, the mind games from the press conferences spilled out in-to the racing.
From one point of view Lorenzo passed Marquez for second with relative ease and even gapped Marquez as soon as he was past. From that same point of view the robust defence put up for third by Marquez might be considered quizzical. From the other view point, Marquez was racing hard. Perhaps Marquez had a strategy for a late race charge which would not work if he went any further down the order. Either way, there was no possibility of the aggressive riding styles from both Rossi and Marquez continuing to the chequered flag. Something was going to happen.
Rossi made his thoughts on the matter clear with a gesture reminiscent of Barry Sheene’s “wave” to Kenny Roberts in 1979, and you didn’t need to speak Italian body language to understand the message. Frustration had already set in and sharing it with his opponent wasn’t going to help matters.
The battling continued. The passes on both sides were masterful demonstration of skill and ability, but none of the passes were to take and hold third position. One of them would go deeper on the brakes or tighter to the apex, only for the other to come straight back. The penultimate move came from Marquez. A decisive cut across Rossi’s nose going in to the right hander. Rossi, on the better line for the next corner, went underneath Marquez and then started pushing wide and slowing down. Rossi’s body language appeared to say “What is going on? This is just stupid”, although the outcome was anything but.
As Rossi continued to push Marquez wide as he slowed, Marquez lent in on Rossi determined to go no further off line and the two of them touched.
As to exactly what happened when they came together depends on which of the angles the TV coverage shows. From one angle Rossi appears to lift his knee. From another Marquez appears to touch Rossi’s bike before Rossi raises his knee. The outcome however was Marquez was off and into the gravel trap, his race over.
Comparatively the rest of the race was uneventful. Pedrosa took the win, Lorenzo second and Rossi third at which point all eyes turned to the door of the Race Direction Office. A penalty of some sort was a foregone conclusion, the question was how big.
Following 30 minutes of deliberation, and conversation statements from the riders, Rossi was given three penalty points which will see him start at the back of the grid in Valencia. The race result though, stands and Rossi retains his third place.
Debate and argument will continue until the lights go out in Valencia on 8th November.
It is often said that every race is a home race for Valentino Rossi, regardless of where it is. Yet with an aggrieved Spaniard in Marc Marquez; a fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo so close to the title he can taste it, and with the race in Spain – will Rossi really think it is a “home” race?