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Rossi steps closer to the title in Malaysia

Rossi steps closer to the title in Malaysia

Rossi steps closer to the title in Malaysia

It was a perfect day for Italian race fans at Sepang today as Valentino Rossi took another step towards the MotoGP World Championship and Andrea Dovizioso lifted the 125cc title.

Rossi's clear victory, coupled with a disappointing seventh place for Sete Gibernau, means that the reigning World Champion gets the chance to retain his crown by finishing in the top two positions at the next race in Australia, the penultimate round of the season which takes place in seven days' time.

Rossi's victory came after an intense race in hot and humid conditions which saw the Yamaha rider battle for the lead over the opening laps with Honda rival Alex Barros. However, Rossi managed to shake off the Brazilian after four laps and opened up a comfortable advantage, leaving Gibernau to fight it out with a combative lead group.

At the halfway stage the group began to stretch out but Gibernau was unable to make progress, Max Biaggi moving to the head of the pack to relegate Barros to third place and leaving Nicky Hayden clear in fourth. Gibernau looked equally safe in fifth but a late charge from Loris Capirossi and Makoto Tamada saw him lose two places in the final six laps.

"This is a very important win for me after losing 25 points at the last round in Qatar," said Rossi afterwards. "It was a good battle with Alex at the beginning of the race but once I got in front I was able to set my pace, which we had worked on in practice.

"Max also pushed hard at the end so it wasn't easy, but I'm very happy today for myself and all my team. I can't say anymore because I am too tired!"

Whilst Biaggi and Barros completed the podium and Nicky Hayden took fourth, Tamada overcame Capirossi on the last lap to seal fifth place and close in on fifth in the championship, currently occupied by Colin Edwards.

Seventh for Gibernau represents his lowest actual finish of the season, whilst Shinya Nakano celebrated his 27th birthday with eighth place after overtaking Carlos Checa on the last lap having started from the front row.

Troy Bayliss completed the top ten whilst Edwards, who is just three points clear of Tamada, struggled to eleventh. Norick Abe, Ruben Xaus, Yukio Kagayama and Jeremy McWilliams completed the points.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, MARLBORO MALAYSIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX, RAC

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