Maverick Vinales delivers victory for Yamaha in Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang

Maverick Viñales powered the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team to their second win of the season after destroying the opposition at the 20-lap Shell Malaysian Grand Prix.

Yamaha's Maverick Vinales.
Yamaha's Maverick Vinales.
Yamaha's Maverick Vinales.

From his front row start he slotted into second behind the fast starting Pramac Ducati rider, Australian Jack Miller but the Spaniard was in no mood for sitting behind Miller for too long and at Turn 11 he made his move to lead the race for the first time.

By the end of the lap he had opened a slight gap over Miller and the sensational Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda, who seemed to be suffering no ill effects from his massive crash in qualifying, the previous day.

Starting from the fourth row the world champion was fourth by Turn 2 and squeezed past Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati by the end of the opening lap for third. Marquez got past Miller on lap three but Viñales had already stretched his advantage to 1.5 seconds and the longer the race went on the further the race leader disappeared into the distance.

He eventually took the chequered flag with 3.059 seconds to spare over Marquez who this time had no answer for the Yamaha man.

The battle for the final rostrum place between Dovizioso crowd favourite Valentino Rossi and Suzuki’s Alex Rins was hot and heavy. Rossi passed Dovizioso a couple of times but could never make it stick and in the end had to settle for fourth with Rins fifth.

Viñales, who dedicated his race win to the 20-year-old Indonesian rider Afridza Munandar, who lost his life in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup race on Saturday, said: “It was an incredible race. Honestly I have to say this is one of the times in life I’ve been the happiest.

“Australia was a bit of a disaster but we arrived here with everything clear, the bike was on a great level all weekend from FP1 since the first laps so we pushed, pushed and pushed and made a gap, which was important.

“I then tried to control the race which wasn’t easy, but I have to congratulate the team because all weekend they did an awesome job”.

Marquez added another record to his incredible tally, becoming the rider with the most points scored in a single season and with his brother Alex winning the Moto2 Championship, it was a day for celebrations in the Marquez camp.

Marquez said. “It was an incredible race, a great first lap. Maybe the best of my career, alongside Mugello 2015. I tried to do like in Phillip Island and stay right behind him but the gap was too big at 1.1 seconds and I made a mistake and dropped back.

“I’m happy with my race, but you can’t imagine how happy I am for my brother’s victory – he deserves it so much. It’s an incredible day but we also have to remember Munandar, a young and talented rider who we unfortunately lost. A big hug to his family and friends.”