Marc Marquez claimed his ninth victory of the 2018 season after a tense race-long battle with Valentino Rossi at Sepang ended with a crash for the Italian. The pair traded fast lap times throughout as the race built towards a grandstand finish but Rossi’s hopes of ending his long victory drought disappeared with a crash four laps from the end.
The Doctor had ridden a near-perfect race until that point having seized the lead at the start, outdragging polesitter Johann Zarco into turn one. Marquez had made rapid progress from the third row, gaining three places on the opening lap and with Andrea Dovizioso suffering a mystifying lack of pace, Marquez was soon up to third.
Zarco would surrender second to the world champion on lap five and the stage was set for a thrilling battle between the two great rivals, three years on from their infamous flashpoint at the same venue. At half-distance, Rossi’s advantage edged over the one-second mark but as Marquez began to relentlessly close in, the pressure finally told on the nine-times champion as the rear-end of his Yamaha gave way at turn one.
From there, the path was clear for Marquez to take victory as he nursed his worn rear tyre to the finish. Zarco was be denied second spot on the final lap as a fast-finishing Alex Rins powered past at turn four, securing Suzuki’s fourth podium finish in the last five races. Maverick Vinales recovered from another dreadful opening lap to rescue fourth ahead of Dani Pedrosa who finished a season-high of fifth.
Dovizioso could only manage sixth, although Rossi’s misfortune meant the Ducati rider had secured the runner-up spot in the championship. Alvaro Bautista was seventh ahead of the Pramac Ducatis of Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci while an emotional Hafizh Syahrin rode a heroic race to finish tenth from the back of the grid.
2018 Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix (Result)
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