Rossi’s Title, Stoner’s Race

Henny Ray Abrams | October 25, 2009

Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi won his seventh premier class title, and ninth overall, with a controlled ride to third place in the wet Malaysian Grand Prix that was a runaway win for Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner.Having achieved a new fastest ever lap in qualifying, Rossi appeared set to win the title in style. But the skies opened up about half an hour before the 3:00 p.m. green flag for the MotoGP race and the start was delayed, eventually to 3:35 p.m.With no wet practice, the race was going to be a gamble, and no one had more to lose than Rossi. The Italian rider got off to a lightning start, but dropped quickly back to eighth in the scrum through the first several corners on the wet track and in a light rain.Meanwhile, Stoner was soon to be blazing into the distance and turning lap times that were three seconds a lap faster than anyone else. There was no question he’d win the race, if he finished, which he did with a wheelie and a 15 second lead.”We couldn’t ask for, basically, to come back after this three race-off and we’ve had a second, two wins, we can’t ask for a lot more than that. and a big thanks to everyone who supported and stayed with me and thanks to the doctors and everybody who’s helped us out,” he said after his second win in a row.Once Rossi made his way through the opening lap he began a resurgence, slow but steady. He brought teammate Jorge Lorenzo along through the pack, the pair catching up to Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, who was third before he crashed out  on the 15th of 21 laps. By then the rain had stopped.At that point Rossi was a couple seconds behind Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. Rossi closed the gap, but couldn’t pass him. He didn’t have to. Teammate Lorenzo finished fourth, which meant Rossi had another crown.Rossi ascended the podium with an insurmountable 41 point lead on Lorenzo with only Valencia to run.”It has been a difficult season and more difficult than last year because I made some mistakes and I had some bad races like in Portugal where we didn’t work at 100%,” Rossi said. “I have great rivals, but especially this year Jorge (Lorenzo) has made a great job and put a lot of pressure on me. We’ve made some great battles during the season and the overtake in Barcelona at the last corner was unforgettable for me. We have a lot of good and bad emotions.”The race for the win wasn’t very interesting. Stoner made sure of that. Pedrosa was second for the entire race, with Dovi just behind until he crashed. That handed third to Rossi, with Lorenzo fourth.Behind Lorenzo came Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden to equal his second best finish-he was also fifth in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix-on the Ducati Only his third at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix was better. Hayden survived the first turn tumult, which was a step up from getting creamed in the first turn of the previous week’s Australian Grand Prix.”I was happy to get through, I can’t even say the first corner, the whole first three laps was just chaos,” he said. “Guys running wide, especially here with all the braking zones. Guys just outbraking each other. Nobody knew-we got a sighting lap and a warm-up-so nobody really knew any braking points, where it was really slicker than the others. The track was, there was a couple spots where there was certainly more water than the others. So it was a lot going on those first couple of laps. But I enjoyed it.”Rizla Suzuki rain specialist Chris Vermeulen finished sixth, one up on San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Toni Elias.Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri (Kaw) was alone in eighth in front of Pramac Racing’s Mika Kallio (Duc).Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi faded to tenth after a quick start, passing San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex De Angelis a few laps from the end.Aleix Espargaro finished a solid 12th in his first MotoGP ride on the Pramac Racing Ducati, vanquishing the more experienced Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).”I did two warm-up laps behind Valentino (Rossi) to check the conditions and from that moment the front feeling wasn’t great,” Edwards said. “Even then I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get any weight on the front and that’s exactly what happened. I could carry the lean angle I wanted but the front wouldn’t load at all, so I couldn’t get the bike turned. When it was properly wet I felt like I was upping my pace and closing in on the group for tenth, but then the tires started heating up and I was sideways all of the time.”Scot Honda’s Gabor Talmacsi was 14th with Edwards’ teammate James Toseland the final finisher.


1. Casey Stoner (Ducati)

2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)

3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)

4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

5. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

6. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)

7. Toni Elias (Honda)

8. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki)

9. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki)

10. Alex De Angelis (Honda)

11. Mika Kallio (Ducati)

12. Aleix Espargaro (Ducati)

13. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

14. Gabor Talmacsi (Honda)

15. James Toseland (Yamaha)

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.