Valentino Rossi took victory number nine of his 2008 season in the Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, escaping from the clutches of Dani Pedrosa in the final third of an exciting race at the Sepang circuit.
The 2008 MotoGP World Champion had started
from second on the grid, but held onto the tail of Pedrosa´s Repsol Honda RC212V as his rival attempted to make an early breakaway.
After taking the lead from the Spaniard on lap ten Rossi set about creating an advantage of his own, and as the race entered the final third the biggest problem for the Italian was the threat of rain.
With the option open to come in and change bikes, the Fiat Yamaha man -and indeed all the other riders so used to the changeable nature of conditions in Sepang- elected to stick out the light rainfall, a decision vindicated when the rain passed and the high temperatures quickly dried up any residual wetness.
With his latest podium finish Rossi extends his run of rostrum placings to eight consecutive Grands Prix, with a chance of win number ten in Valencia at next weekend´s season finale.
Pedrosa placed inside the top three in Sepang for the third time in as many premier class visits to the Malaysian track, although it was not enough to keep the battle for the runner-up spot in the 2008 World Championship standings alive. Nonetheless, the Spaniard recorded his best race result on Bridgestone tyres, after taking his first pole for the Japanese manufacturer on Saturday afternoon.
With just one race left in his maiden MotoGP season, Andrea Dovizioso finally achieved a first premier class podium after a tooth-and-nail battle with Nicky Hayden. The JiR Team Scot rider also moved further into contention for the Rookie of the Year honour as his result combined with a crash from rival Jorge Lorenzo.
San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Shinya Nakano showed that he was also up for a battle, eventually keeping the fifth spot despite the best attempts of 2007 Sepang racewinner Casey Stoner. Sixth place was enough for Stoner to confirm second in the season´s overall classification.
Loris Capirossi, Colin Edwards, Chris Vermeulen and Randy de Puniet rounded off the first ten past the chequered flag in the 21-lap race.