Sepang MotoGP Reaction: Valentino Rossi claims 150th podium with Sepang win

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Valentino Rossi survived gruelling 40 degree heat to secure his ninth win of 2008 and his 150th career rostrum in a scorching hot Malaysian GP.

The Italian quickly disposed of hard charging compatriot Andrea Dovizioso on the second lap to set about chasing down early leader Dani Pedrosa.

The Spaniard, who had claimed his first Bridgestone pole position yesterday, was able to fend Rossi’s factory Yamaha YZR-M1 off for the opening 10 laps, before the world champion attacked on lap 11.

Rossi was able to pull away with ease to register his fifth victory at Sepang, while he also became only the second rider in history to notch 150 GP podiums. Today’s result leaves Rossi only nine short of Giacomo Agostini’s record tally.

The Fiat Yamaha rider said: “I am so happy with this win today because all of the toughest championships of my career, including with Yamaha in 2004, have been won with nine victories. Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t want to win again next week in Valencia, but for now I like this number!

“Today was incredibly hard because it was so hot. Once I got behind Dani I tried to pass many times but he was very fast and very consistent and I had a good battle to get by him. Lap-by-lap I understood better where it was possible and eventually I could make my move and go away from him.

“Everything worked very well today in such conditions, my M1 and my Bridgestone tyres and I want to thank everyone for making me so fast all weekend. I love winning here because it’s such a great track but today was really a test, especially the last five laps when I really had to make an effort to keep my concentration in such incredible heat.

“Anyway, it was important to win here because when we came here in the winter I did a very fast race simulation and I promised my new Bridgestone tyre technician, Peter, that we would win the race! I took a gamble in February so I had to win today!”

Rossi also paid tribute to paddock pal Marco Simoncelli, who clinched the 250GP world crown with third place this afternoon.

Rossi added: “I know how hard he has worked to get here and he really deserves it – I am very happy for him.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt