The MotoGP title race is to go down to the wire after Dani Pedrosa won a dramatic Malaysian Grand Prix yesterday, which saw championship leader Valentino Rossi clash with former champion Marc Marquez.
Rossi finished third behind title rival and Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo to allow the Spaniard to close within seven points, but the seven-time premier-class champion is to start from the back of the grid in the season finale in Valencia after being penalized for causing Spanish rival Marquez to crash out of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Prior to the race, Rossi had claimed former champion Marquez “would prefer [fellow Spaniard] Lorenzo to win” the championship, and the pair took their war of words onto the Sepang International Circuit in stunning fashion.
The duo swapped places and touched wheels a number of times until Rossi appeared to slow at a turn, force Marquez wide and then flick out a knee, which resulted in his rival’s Honda sliding into the gravel.
Rossi said it was a racing incident and regretted his rival had crashed out.
“I lost a lot of time fighting with Marc and tried to go a little wider on that turn, but, unfortunately, he crashed at that moment,” Rossi said in an interview.
“It cost us both a chance to fight with Jorge, so Valencia will now be difficult,” he added, referring to the season-ending race on Nov. 8.
Rossi’s Yamaha team are appealing Race Direction’s decision, announced on MotoGP’s official Twitter feed, to award the Italian three penalty points that pushes him to the back of the grid in Spain.
Rossi, who is seeking a record-equaling eighth premier class title, is on 312 points ahead of the Valencia Grand Prix, seven ahead of Lorenzo, with 25 available for victory in Spain.
There was more drama on the podium as the pro-Rossi Malaysian crowd booed Lorenzo when he picked up his second-place prize, with the Spaniard storming off immediately after the anthems and not waiting to pose for post-race photographs.
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