Valentino Rossi gatecrashed Jorge Lorenzo’s MotoGP world championship party in stunning fashion in Malaysia this afternoon.
Lorenzo wrapped up his maiden premier class world title with a safe and solid third place in the 20-lap race at the Sepang track.
But he had to share the limelight to an extent after a dazzling performance from Fiat Yamaha team-mate Rossi, who claimed only his second win of an injury ravaged season.
Lorenzo’s success continued Yamaha’s domination of the 800cc MotoGP era with the Japanese factory securing a third straight title, and the Spaniard was ecstatic having secured the title with three races in hand.
But just as equally thrilled was Rossi, who produced a heroic display having been dropped from sixth on the grid down to 11th position on the opening lap.
Desperate to clinch the title from the front, Lorenzo grabbed the holeshot with Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso in close pursuit.
Casey Stoner had also made a fast start from fifth on the grid but his challenge for a third successive victory was a brief affair.
The Australian, who dominated the recent Motorland Aragon and Twin Ring Motegi races, lost the front of his factory Ducati GP10 at the final corner on lap one and tumbled out of third.
Behind him, Rossi had already commenced a brilliant charge through the field, the 31-year-old seizing fifth place from Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies on the third lap.
He then moved into fourth on lap three when Nicky Hayden made a mistake and the nine-times world champion then snatched third from compatriot Marco Simoncelli on lap four.
At that point he was almost 2.5s behind Lorenzo but the 23-year-old had already lost the lead to Dovizioso when Rossi pounced on lap ten to move into second.
Unwilling to engage in a dogfight with the title within his grasp, Lorenzo was content to watch Rossi and Dovizioso slug it out for the lead.
Rossi was phenomenally strong on the brakes at turn nine and dived under Dovizoso’s factory RC212V machine on lap 11. Rossi though was unable to pull away as he tried to conserve energy, his damaged right shoulder though hardly proving the major handicap he'd feared as temperatures hit close to 35 degrees.
Dovizioso regained the lead on lap 16 with a clinical move under braking at the first corner but he couldn’t shake off Rossi.
Rossi then made his decisive move at turn nine again on the same lap and quickly established a lead of close to 0.5s.
Dovizioso though responded and got to within 0.224s but was unable to defeat Rossi and claim his first dry MotoGP win.
Rossi’s outstanding ride secured him his first win since the opening round in Qatar and ended the longest victory drought in his MotoGP career.
Dovizioso claimed his second successive second place with Lorenzo taking a routine third to add the premier class crown to his two 250GP titles.
Spies claimed fourth place after he streaked away from a fascinating battle involving Alvaro Bautista, Hayden, Hiroshi Aoyama and Marco Simoncelli.
Factory Suzuki rider Bautista claimed a stunning fifth with Japanese rider easily claiming his best MotoGP result in seventh.