The indomitable and irrepressible Valentino Rossi took his ninth World Championship crown in Malaysia yesterday, riding to third place in a dramatic rain-hit race at Sepang. It was the Italian’s seventh title in the premier class, his fourth for Yamaha – more than he has won with any other manufacturer – and his 163rd career podium.
After three dry practice sessions the heavens opened thirty minutes before the race started and a torrential downpour ensued. The race was delayed forty-five minutes, by which time the rain had abated to a steady drizzle, but with no wet track time during practice the race had become something of a lottery. Rossi seemed to get away well but at turn one he ran wide and exited in eighth position. He then surrendered two more places, including one to his charging team-mate, and finished the first lap in tenth.
For the next few laps he tailed Lorenzo as the Spaniard charged his way through the field, the pair putting on a scintillating display of overtaking in the wet until they arrived in fourth and fifth on the seventh lap. Rossi now set his sights on a podium and passed Lorenzo, surviving a huge slide in the process, before quickly pulling a gap of a second on his team-mate. He slowly began to close the gap to Andrea Dovizioso in third and looked like he would soon be within striking distance when his fellow Italian slid out, leaving Rossi in the final podium spot. He didn’t give up there however and started to reel in Dani Pedrosa, who was second, but with the track by then almost dry and the championship in the bag he decided in the final few laps to take the safe option and came home behind the Spaniard, with Casey Stoner the clear winner out in front.
Here are some more statistics from the fourteenth season of Rossi’s career:
- Rossi has now matched Mike Hailwood and Carlo Ubbiali with nine titles in all classes. Only Agostini with 15 has more.
- Rossi’s win in Assen this season made him only the second rider in history to take 100 wins in all classes. Rossi now has 103, 19 less than Agostini’s all-time record of 122.
- He already held the all-time premier class victories record, having beaten Agostini’s tally at Indianapolis in 2008. He now a premier-class win tally of 77.
- Rossi’s win this season in Brno saw him take the all-time podium record with his 160th podium in all classes. He is also the only rider to have stood on the podium in the premier-class more than 100 times. Today’s podium was his 163rd in all classes.
- With 44 wins from 102 races since he joined the Japanese factory in 2004, Rossi is the most successful Yamaha rider of all time. He has 21 more wins than Kenny Roberts, Yamaha’s next most successful rider.
- Today’s title means he has now won more titles for Yamaha than for any of the other manufacturers he has ridden for in his career.
- His win at Misano, Italy this year was his 11th win in all classes on home soil.
- He is the only rider in history to have won at least one GP in 14 successive seasons.
MotoGP 2009 Sepang Results
1. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 47’24.835
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda + 14.666
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team + 19.385
4. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team + 25.850
5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team + 38.705
6. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 41.061
7. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini + 48.555
8. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team + 55.557
9. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 1’00.303
10. Mika Kallio (FIN) Ducati Marlboro Team + 1’00.440
11. Alex Espagaro (SPA) Pramac Racing + 1’01.655
12. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini + 1’01.847
13. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 + 1’10.778
14. Gabor Talmacsi (HUN) Scot Racing Team MotoGP + 1’15.851
15. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 + 1’50.672
Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda 7 Lap
Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 20 Lap
2009 MotoGP Championship Standings
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 286
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 245
3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 220
4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda 209
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda 152
6. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 148
7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 108
8. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team 108
9. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 105
10. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 105
11. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini 105
12. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 101
13. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 93
14. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 88
15. Mika Kallio (FIN) Ducati Marlboro Team 64
16. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing 38
17. Gabor Talmacsi (HUN) Scot Racing Team MotoGP 19
18. Alex Espagaro (SPA) Pramac Racing 13
19. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Grupo Francisco Hernando 12
20. Yuki Takahashi (JPN) Scot Racing Team 9