Dani Pedrosa’s strong finish to the 2015 MotoGP season continued in the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday as he claimed his second victory in three races ahead of Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo.
However, the race was overshadowed by an on-track clash between Marc Marquez and championship leader Valentino Rossi that has seen the latter be demoted to the back of the grid for the season finale in two weeks’ time.
Starting from pole, Pedrosa made a clean start to lead into turn one before controlling proceedings throughout the race to take a fuss-free win ahead of Lorenzo by 3.6 seconds at the flag.
Marquez initially stayed with Honda teammate Pedrosa before dropping behind Lorenzo and entering battle for third place with Rossi, who had accused the Spaniard of trying to derail his title bid earlier this week.
On lap seven, Rossi dived down the inside of Marquez at turn ten to take the position before the Honda rider fought back through turns 11 and 12. The two riders went side-by-side into the turn 13 and 14 complex, with Marquez on the outside.
After turning his head to see where Marquez was, Rossi lifted his left leg and made contact with the Spaniard, causing him to fall off his bike. Rossi was able to continue, but a fuming Marquez was resigned to his sixth retirement of the season.
Rossi eventually finished the race in third, leaving his lead over Lorenzo in the championship standing at seven points ahead of the title decider in Valencia on November 8.
Unsurprisingly, he was brought before the stewards after the race for his clash, with many – including Lorenzo – calling for his disqualification from the race.
The race director ultimately decided to uphold Rossi’s third place finish, but he will be forced to start the final race of the year in Valencia from the back of the grid, setting the stage for a thrilling championship showdown.
“You know unfortunately I lost a lot of time with Marc and in turn 14, I tried to go wide to get a better line to make him slow because he just rides to cause me some problems,” Rossi told motogp.com after the race, having skipped the post-race press conference.
“Unfortunately he came to me and I think he crashed in that moment. It’s a shame because I think that in a normal race we can stay and fight with Jorge and we lost some more points. Valencia will be more difficult.”