Dani Pedrosa took an untroubled second MotoGP win of the season in the Malaysian Grand Prix, as Valentino Rossi’s third place remains provisional after a clash with Marc Marquez that caused the latter to crash.
From pole position, Pedrosa led every lap en route to a straightforward victory, his second in three races and the 28th of his premier class career, leading home Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo by 3.6 seconds.
As Pedrosa led from Marquez and Rossi at the start, Lorenzo suffered a poor getaway, dropping to sixth but soon clearing the Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone at Turn 4.
Lorenzo rapidly reeled in Rossi to take third, making the move at the start of the second lap, before passing Marquez for second the following lap at Turn 4.
But the big story of the race was the subsequent battle for third between Marquez and Rossi, which raged for several laps in uncompromising style, both riders refusing to give the other an inch.
It came after Marquez was accused of favouring Lorenzo’s title bid at Phillip Island, and the aggression on display by both riders left observers in no doubt that the battle was personal.
Matters came to a head on the seventh lap at Turn 14, as Rossi dived up the inside and deliberately ran wide into the path of Marquez.
The duo made contact, with Rossi appearing to thrust his knee towards the handlebars of Marquez’s Honda, causing the Spaniard to suffer a low-side crash.
Rossi continued to finish third, but his position remains under investigation.
“I lose a lot of time with Marc,” said the Italian,” and at Turn 14 I tried to go a bit wide to get a better line and make him slow, because he was riding to cause me problems.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know, he come up to me and he crash in that moment.”
In the unlikely event Rossi keeps the place, Lorenzo will head to the season finale in Valencia in two weeks’ time with a seven point deficit, but that is likely to change in the event of a time penalty or disqualification for Rossi.
Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith passed the LCR Honda fellow Briton Cal Crutchlow to claim fourth – and what could become the final podium position – late on, with Danilo Petrucci best of the Ducatis in sixth on the satellite Pramac machine.
Both of the works Ducatis failed to finish, Iannone suffering an early mechanical failure and Dovizioso crashing out at Turn 6 at mid-distance as Crutchow forced his way by.
Aleix Espargaro prevailed over Suzuki teammate Maverick Vinales in a spirited battle over seventh, while Pol Espargaro (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Stefan Bradl completing the top 10, the German matching Aprilia’s best result of the season.
After being demoted to the back of the grid, Hector Barbera came through the pack to prevail in the Open Class battle, taking 13th overall.