Marc Marquez has claimed victory in the Malaysian MotoGP after Valentino Rossi crashed from the lead in the final four laps.
Rossi had headed the field from the start but Marquez, who started seventh due to a grid penalty, was closing in when the veteran Italian went down on Lap 16.
Alex Rins passed Johann Zarco on the final lap to take second while Jack Miller faded to eighth after running as high as third at Sepang.
Marquez gained one position off the start and two more by the end of the lap, despite very nearly spilling his Repsol Honda at the last corner.
Andrea Iannone saw the front of his Suzuki Ecstar entry also fold, immediately behind Marquez, but he couldn’t save it and that was the end of the Italian’s afternoon.
Marquez picked off Miller on Lap 2 and Zarco on Lap 5, at which time he was 0.7s behind the #46 Movistar Yamaha.
That lead got as high as 1.2s on Lap 12 before the Spaniard began to reverse the trend.
He was back within 0.7s at the end of Lap 16, just as Rossi’s front wheel washed away at Turn 1.
The crash handed Marquez a lead which exceeded four seconds and the 2018 world champion strolled to a ninth win of the campaign.
Rins ran down Zarco, passing the Tech3 Yamaha at Turn 4 on Lap 20, and they took up the minor placings with second a career personal best for the Suzuki Ecstar rider.
Maverick Viñales (Suzuki Ecstar) was held up by Alvaro Bautista (Nieto Ducati) in the early stages after qualifying only 11th in the damp conditions, but he still rode all the way up to fourth in the dry.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) finished fifth and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) an unremarkable sixth, but that was still enough to lock up second in the world championship for a second year running after Rossi remounted but took the chequered flag outside the points in 18th.
Bautista and the Pramac Ducatis of Miller and Danilo Petrucci filled seventh through ninth, while Hafizh Syahrin finished 10th from the rear of the 23-bike grid in his first MotoGP race on home soil.
The Tech3 Yamaha rider made up 12 of those 13 positions in the first lap alone, and the other when Rossi went down.
Stefan Bradl was 13th as injury replacement for LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, but Jorge Lorenzo’s stand-in Michele Pirro crashed his factory Ducati.
Karel Abraham (Nieto Ducati) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM) both retired during the race.
The interest in the championship now turns to the intra-team battle for third between Rossi and Viñales.
The former takes a two-point advantage to the finale at Valencia on November 16-18.
Race results: Malaysian MotoGP
|1||93||Marc MARQUEZ||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||40:32.372|
|2||42||Alex RINS||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||+1.898|
|3||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+2.474|
|4||25||Maverick VIÑALES||ESP||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+4.667|
|5||26||Dani PEDROSA||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+6.190|
|6||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||+11.248|
|7||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||ESP||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||+15.611|
|8||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||+19.009|
|9||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||+22.921|
|10||55||Hafizh SYAHRIN||MAL||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||+26.919|
|11||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ESP||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+29.503|
|12||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+30.933|
|13||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||+35.322|
|14||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||+37.912|
|15||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+39.675|
|16||12||Thomas LUTHI||SUI||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||+41.820|
|17||10||Xavier SIMEON||BEL||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||+43.978|
|18||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+58.288|
|19||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||+1:00.191|
|DNF||44||Pol ESPARGARO||ESP||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||4 Laps|
|DNF||51||Michele PIRRO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||15 Laps|
|DNF||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||17 Laps|
|DNF||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki|