MotoGP: Title goes to wire amid drama as Rossi takes down Marquez

Honda MotoGP rider Marc Marquez (front) of Spain and Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi of Italy ride during the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit on Oct 25, 2015.
Honda MotoGP rider Marc Marquez (front) of Spain and Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi of Italy ride during the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit on Oct 25, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEPANG (AFP) - Spain's Dani Pedrosa cruised to victory in the Malaysian MotoGP on Sunday, with Jorge Lorenzo snatching second place to cut into championship leader Valentino Rossi's lead.

The result at Malaysia's Sepang track sets the stage for a thrilling climax to the season, as Yamaha team-mates Lorenzo and Rossi will battle it out in the finale next month in Valencia, south-eastern Spain.

But controversy marred the result as Rossi was penalised for a collision with defending world champion Marc Marquez, furthering endangering the Italian's hopes of securing his 10th world championship next month.

Lorenzo and Pedrosa accused Rossi of lifting his leg as Marquez tried to overtake him, possibly impeding the Spaniard, who crashed and had to retire from the race.

An infuriated Marquez also lashed out at Rossi, saying the Italian had kicked the handlebar of his bike.

Race officials said 36-year-old Rossi, who was notably absent from the post-race press conference after the eventful race, will have to start from the back of the grid in Valencia.

"We were overtaking at a very fast pace. I don't know what was Valentino thinking. I did not expect him to carry his leg and push my handlebar. That is why I crashed," Marquez told reporters.

"To hit (my bike) with his leg... I have - and also I think many other people have - lost respect for Valentino."

Rossi denied he was at fault. "In Turn 14 I tried to go wide to get a better line to make him (Marquez) slow because he just rides to cause me some problems. Unfortunately... and I think he crashed in that moment," he was quoted as saying by Motogp.com.

The accusations come after a tense week in which Rossi angrily accused Marquez of helping Lorenzo to win points in the Australian Grand Prix, where Marquez won and Rossi managed only fourth place.