Valentino Rossi’s brilliant podium after dramatic Malaysian GP
The indomitable and irrepressible Valentino Rossi took his ninth World Championship crown in Malaysia today, riding to third place in a dramatic rain-hit race at Sepang. It was the Italian’s seventh title in the premier class, his fourth for Yamaha – more than he has won with any other manufacturer – and his 163rd career podium. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was forced to start from the back of the grid after a sighting lap problem but he recovered brilliantly and rode a superb race to chase Rossi home in fourth place.
After three dry practice sessions the heavens opened thirty minutes before the race started and a torrential downpour ensued. The race was delayed forty-five minutes, by which time the rain had abated to a steady drizzle, but with no wet track time during practice the race had become something of a lottery. Rossi seemed to get away well but at turn one he ran wide and exited in eighth position. He then surrendered two more places, including one to his charging team-mate, and finished the first lap in tenth. For the next few laps he tailed Lorenzo as the Spaniard charged his way through the field, the pair putting on a scintillating display of overtaking in the wet until they arrived in fourth and fifth on the seventh lap. Rossi now set his sights on a podium and passed Lorenzo, surviving a huge slide in the process, before quickly pulling a gap of a second on his team-mate. He slowly began to close the gap to Andrea Dovizioso in third and looked like he would soon be within striking distance when his fellow Italian slid out, leaving Rossi in the final podium spot. He didn’t give up there however and started to reel in Dani Pedrosa, who was second, but with the track by then almost dry and the championship in the bag he decided in the final few laps to take the safe option and came home behind the Spaniard, with Casey Stoner the clear winner out in front.
Lorenzo’s troubles began when a problem with his race bike meant he had to switch to his spare at the last minute, meaning he left the pit lane a little late. He planned to do two sighting laps, as Rossi had, to get a better feel for the wet track but by the time he came through for the second one the pit lane had closed, meaning he then had to start from the back of the grid. The 22-year-old surged through the field at the start however and rode one of the races of his life to pass twelve riders and come home fourth behind Rossi. Lorenzo will clinch second place in the championship by taking just one point at the final round in Valencia, in two week’s time.
Valentino Rossi –
“It’s great to be World Champion again, I am very proud to have done this nine times in my career. I want to thank everyone in my team, Furusawa-san, Davide Brivio, Lin Jarvis, Jeremy…everybody! This season has been very hard and Lorenzo especially has pushed me to new limits, but I think it’s been a great duel for everyone to watch. Today was unbelievable, when the rain came it was scary for everyone because all the work we’d done was then useless and we were riding ‘blind’ with the setting. I made a mistake at the first corner and then I was a long way back, so I think I did a great race to finish third! I was going to try to pass Dovizioso when he fell and then for a few laps I thought I would try to get Pedrosa but with wet tyres on a drying track it was a bit risky by then and so I decided to be safe. It’s a fantastic feeling to take this title with Yamaha again and I also must thank Bridgestone, who have done a great job with the tyres all year. My celebration was because in Italy we say an old chicken makes good soup but can no longer lay eggs! I am like the old chicken – 30 years now – but I have made another egg! That’s nine!”
Fiat Yamaha Team
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“Every year is special but this year was very interesting because we realised from the start of the season that our strongest rival was in our garage! It hasn’t been easy but it’s been a fascinating season for everyone and we are very proud at Yamaha. We have to give huge congratulations to Valentino because this year we’ve seen him work harder than ever, and when the level goes up he puts even more effort in and this means that we, too, have all had to work even harder to keep up with him! Working with Valentino is always great fun and we are very lucky in our team. Today he showed his talent once again after a bad start to come home on the podium and we are so happy that all our work has paid off. Congratulations to Valentino and thank you to everyone in the team, at Yamaha and at Bridgestone for a fantastic job.”
Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager
“Congratulations to Valentino for his ninth title! We’ve given everything we have this year to make his life difficult on track but now he has won and he deserves this victory. This year has been great for Jorge and today he did a brilliant race from last on the grid. Unfortunately we had trouble with the race bike and had to change to the back-up one, and then Jorge wasn’t in time to exit the pit lane after his second sighting lap. It was a pity but he put on an exciting show and did so well to finish fourth. Now we will focus on confirming the second place in Valencia and then look forward to next year, when I am sure Jorge will be even stronger.”