Valentino Rossi described his return to the top step of the MotoGP podium as a huge satisfaction after ending a six-month victory drought at Sepang.
The outgoing MotoGP champion had not won a race since the season-opener in Qatar, with his shoulder and leg injuries and their after-effects leading to the longest barren spell in his MotoGP career. But he came through to take the Malaysian Grand Prix win at Sepang today, despite dropping to 11th with a poor start. The victory was Rossi's 46th with Yamaha – a poignant figure as he has carried the number 46 on his bike throughout his career.
"To get back to victory, and also to win this race, is very important for me. It makes me so, so happy," said Rossi. "This is the 46th victory with Yamaha, so it was so important and I had to try. So I'm so happy and I have to thank Yamaha for these seven years."
It took Rossi just four laps to get back up from 11th to third, and he then emerged on top of a lead battle with his Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo and Honda's Andrea Dovizioso, with the latter staying glued to his tail to the finish.
"Today after the warm-up I knew I could do it because I had great pace but we started in the worst way because I missed the start and I was 11th on the first lap," said Rossi. "But straight away I understood that I still had great pace. So lap by lap I was coming back, and when I was behind Dovi and Jorge I had a 1.5-second gap – and it was the longest 1.5 seconds of my career. Like at Motegi, Dovi never gave up, and I had to give all my energy."