Newly crowned world champion Valentino Rossi cruised to victory in the Malaysian MotoGP on his Yamaha here Sunday, with Dani Pedrosa, riding a Honda, finishing a distant second.
SEPANG, Malaysia (AFP) –
Newly crowned world champion Valentino Rossi cruised to victory in the Malaysian MotoGP on his Yamaha here Sunday, with Dani Pedrosa, riding a Honda, finishing a distant second.
Rossi, who sealed the championship in Japan three weeks ago, passed Pedrosa in lap 10 and then raced to the chequered flag at his favourite Sepang circuit with ease in steaming hot track conditions.
The Spaniard started in pole position while Rossi, from Italy, was second on the grid.
The 29-year-old Rossi finished the 116.4-kilometre journey over 21 laps in 43 minutes 06.007 seconds, pulling a wheelie as he crossed the finish line for his ninth win of the season.
Italian Andrea Dovizioso, riding a Honda, finished in third place, while Australian Ducati rider Casey Stoner could only manage sixth in 43:19.647.
Rossi attributed his fifth win in Sepang to a combination of good strategy and teamwork.
“It was a very tough and long race. After five to six laps I started to feel the heat. I am very happy I won. We worked very hard for this victory,” he said.
Rossi said his Yamaha M1 was well suited to the long and wide Sepang circuit, enabling him to pass Pedrosa and never look back.
“I had a good start. This bike is suitable for this kind of track. It is an enjoyable track to race,” he said.
Sepang is one of the widest tracks on the MotoGP calendar, measuring 16 metres (52 feet) across in some areas, and riders always have to deal with high track temperatures thanks to Malaysia’s tropical climate.
The track has four major hairpins and some fast and frequent changes of direction, and is arguably the most demanding race of the year for riders, bikes and tyres.
Pedrosa admitted that it was too dificult to stop Rossi.
“When I was in front, Rossi was close behind me. I tried to keep my position,” he said, adding that once the Italian had pulled ahead, “I was not able to improve my rhythm. Next time I have to push harder.”
With one race to go, Rossi is in position to set a new record for the highest number of points achieved in a racing season.
The current record of 367 points is held jointly between Rossi in 2005 (from 17 races) and Stoner last year (from 16 races).
Rossi tops the standings after 17 races with an unassailable 357 points while Stoner stands at 255 and Pedrosa third with 229 points. The final race will be held in Valencia next week.
Stoner will undergo wrist surgery to repair an old injury at the end of the season.
Meanwhile, Japanese tyre giant Bridgestone said Sunday it had been appointed as the sole tyre supplier for the MotoGP World Championship for a three-year period starting from 2009.
The company’s announcement followed the International Motorcycling Federation’s (FIM) decision last month to use only one brand of tyre from the start of the 2009 season.
For the past two years, riders using Japan’s Bridgestone have dominated the courses in the premier class, after a long reign by France’s Michelin, which said earlier this month that it would not compete for the MotoGP tyre contract.
“Although we were sorry to hear that tyre competition would not continue in MotoGP, Bridgestone appreciates the importance of safety and cost in motorsports,” Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport, said in a statement.
FIM has cited “safety and cost reasons” for its decision to use a sole supplier.

original link:http://sport.id.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=1737800