Sepang : MotoGP - Race
Valentino Rossi took victory in the Marlboro Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix after a heart-stopping final few laps at the Sepang circuit saw him and compatriot Loris Capirossi switch positions numerous times before the reigning World Champion eventually
ran out the winner.
The race began with a surprise in the form of Dani Pedrosa, who had been rumoured to be a possible non-starter for the event with five stitches in the gash on his right knee. However the Spaniard gritted his teeth to take up his fifth place on the grid, and got straight into the race as he blasted into the first corner in first position.
Pedrosa was closely followed by Capirossi and Rossi however, and soon the Italian duo had made their way past the rookie. As Pedrosa braved the pain to hang on behind the leaders, behind him his team-mate and championship leader Nicky Hayden struggled to stick with the front three. At the front Rossi and Capirossi both made attempts to escape, but the pace of the pair was almost identical and there was nothing to choose as the race came down to its denouement.
The Ducati led the Yamaha as the dogfight entered the final lap, and a six-tenths cushion as he crossed the line bode well for Capirossi. Rossi had other ideas meanwhile, and put in a storming last lap to pass Capirossi in the tight uphill left-hander before pulling out another eight tenths to take the win.
Capirossi brought his Ducati home in second, with Pedrosa just a further three seconds behind in third. Nicky Hayden held off mid-race challenges from Sete Gibernau and Casey Stoner to take 13 points in fourth, whilst Gibernau himself was fifth on his return from injury. In the final laps Stoner was overtaken by both John Hopkins and Kenny Roberts Jr. to finish eighth, whilst Marco Melandri and Colin Edwards rounded out the top ten.
Dorna / CAPSIS International