A fantastic and consistent performance from Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso at the Shell Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit, led to a long and well-deserved victory for the MotoGP rider, with him becoming the ninth different winner to claim the top step of the podium this year.
Difficult start to the 2016 MotoGP season for Dovizioso
Dovizioso had a difficult start to the season as he seemed to be the one who would become victim to others wiping him out of the race. He kept at it though, and throughout the season looked strong and definitely like he had the potential to win the race. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) recently became winner number eight and the question came about, who would be number nine?
More level playing field in the MotoGP with the changes
The rain, the ECU that all riders are using, French manufacturer Michelin becoming the new tyre, and a great hunger to win have all contributed to a season with such varied results. Although the championship was decided recently, it was still not guaranteed that we wouldn’t see a ninth winner, and the way Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) has been going on the GSX-RR recently, we may see number ten.. and he isn’t the only one with the potential. This is not to say that these were the only reason that Dovizioso got the win, as he demonstrated that it is down to many other factors he provides too.
The riders were nervous about visiting the Sepang International Circuit for the penultimate round of the season. The meeting came just a week after Phillip Island where they were tormented by the weather. They arrived at Sepang expecting heat and the possibility of rain storms, and expected any water that fell to disappear quickly on the newly resurfaced track, but instead it rained heavily again; so often and so heavy that the majority of their track time was wet.
Dovizioso and Ducati both strong in Sepang
Dovizioso was consistent throughout the weekend, he was on the pace despite the conditions, and had the advantage of the amazing acceleration of the Ducati Desmosedici GP16 down the two long straights at the end of the lap. He qualified on pole with a late lap in the session and got a fantastic start when the race went underway. He did drop down to fourth initially, but his out-accelerated Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi on the straight, until the Italian out-braked him.
Using the straights, Dovizioso fended off Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), his teammate Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) and Rossi, as they battled for the lead. Crutchlow was on his tail, but again his acceleration undid any work that the British rider had put in over the duration of the lap to catch him. Several laps in when in third, Dovizioso was able to catch and pass Iannone, he remained under pressure from him until he crashed out ending his race.
Dovizioso continued on and six laps from the end of the race, he had caught Rossi who had been leading. The nine times world champion made It easy for him to pass in the end as he ran hot into turn one and ran wide as a result which meant the Ducati rider was able to slot right past him. Rossi’s momentum was spoiled which meant Dovizioso could immediately extend a lead, and all he had to do was remain consistent as he had done all weekend, and get to the finish line on the drying track; he crossed the line over three seconds ahead of Rossi.
Dovizioso wins his second MotoGP becoming the ninth winner this season
The Italian was victorious in Sepang and claimed his second MotoGP win ever, his first this season, and for several seasons as he was last victorious at Donnington Park in 2009. His win, and the 25 points he collected as a result, means that he was able to move up to fifth in the championship above Crutchlow who unfortunately crashed out, as he is now on 162 points.
Dovizioso spoke of how he felt it was “very important” that he “win a race this year”. It came as a result of him “trying for so long” and he knew he had “come close on several occasions,” and so he described the “satisfaction” from his race win as “truly immense”. He explained how he “really powered to the win”. He explained how in the first half of the race he found he “could not push too hard” but still he “didn’t give up”, nor did he “make any mistakes”, he then spoke of how “at the right time” he went on and “passed both Iannone and Rossi” and then went on to “set [his] own pace”.
He spoke of how he was “very happy about the improvements” that he and the team “have made this year, both in the bike and with [his] team”, and also “on a personal level”. He said, “I am working hard also for next year, and this win, which has come at the end of the season, is just a reward for all the efforts.”