Andrea Dovizioso charged to his sixth win of the 2017 MotoGP season for Ducati in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix to set up a final-race showdown with Honda’s Marc Marquez in two weeks’ time.
Marquez needed to only finish ahead of Dovizioso to clinch his fourth MotoGP title at the Sepang International Circut, and made a rocket start to rise from seventh to third on the opening lap.
Tech3 racer Johann Zarco swept into the lead ahead of Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo and Marquez, with Dovizioso sitting fourth early on.
The Italian was able to pass his title rival on Lap 5 before following teammate Lorenzo in pursuit of Zarco, with the pair rising into the top two before half distance.
Lorenzo and Dovizioso pulled away from the chasing pack, with Ducati then giving an order for them to swap positions in order to help the latter’s title bid.
Lorenzo allowed Dovizioso past at the final corner with five laps remaining and held position to the checkered flag where 0.7 seconds separated them.
Zarco completed the podium behind the Ducatis as Marquez finished fourth, meaning the Spaniard will enter the final race of the year in Valencia with a 21-point lead.
A finish of 11th or higher will be enough to give Marquez the title in two weeks’ time, while Dovizioso must win the race to stand any chance of taking a maiden crown.
Pole-sitter Dani Pedrosa never recovered from a poor start, finishing fifth ahead of Danilo Petrucci, while Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales struggled to seventh and ninth respectively, split by Jack Miller. Pol Espargaro completed the top 10 for KTM.
The final race of MotoGP season takes place in Valencia, Spain on November 12.