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Bagnaia wins Malaysian MotoGP to stand on brink of world title

Sepang (Malaysia) (AFP) – Francesco Bagnaia won a dramatic Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, but the champagne for the Italian’s maiden MotoGP world championship remains on ice after rival Fabio Quartararo finished third.

Bagnaia would have clinched the title had Quartararo finished outside the podium places at Sepang, but the Ducati rider instead extended his lead to 23 points ahead of the season’s final race at Spain’s Valencia in two weeks.

Bagnaia took the chequered flag in 40min 14:332sec, 0.270sec ahead of fellow Ducati rider Enea Bastianini. Quartararo completed the podium 2.7sec adrift.

Bagnaia started 12th on the grid, but a blistering start saw him up to second on the first lap behind pole sitter Jorge Martin.

The dynamics of the race changed on the seventh lap when Martin crashed out, allowing the Ducati rider to charge into first with Bastianini hot on his tail.

Bastianini managed to overtake his countryman on turn four of the 10th lap, but his lead was short-lived as Bagnaia regained the ascendancy.

Quartararo was meanwhile being drawn in a battle against Marco Bezzecchi for third, but held his ground to stave off the Gresini Racing rider.

At the front, Bastianini continued to pressure Bagnaia, but the Italian kept his cool to cross the finish line for his seventh win of the season.

With a maximum 25 points available in Valencia, Quartararo must win the final grand prix of 2022 to have any hope of retaining this world championship.

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