Andrea Dovizioso wins Malaysian Grand Prix to keep faint title dreams alive
Andrea Dovizioso beat Ducati team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in Malaysia to keep his slim MotoGP title hopes alive.
The Italian cut Marc Marquez's championship advantage to 21 points, meaning an 11th-place finish at Valencia will be enough for the Honda rider to seal the crown even if Dovizioso wins.
Despite claiming his sixth win of the season in Sepang, Dovizioso was still seething about last week's terrible performance in Australia, which left him with a mountain to climb.
"I am so angry about Phillip Island," said Dovizioso. "For sure I was able to make better points if I didn't make a mistake in the second lap.
"I don't feel so happy about the victory today because we don't have a lot of cards to play in the next round."
With Marquez unable to make an impression on Zarco in fourth, it meant Dovizioso could take the title fight to Valencia by finishing ahead of Lorenzo, who received what appeared to be a coded instruction on his dashboard to move aside.
It took until lap 16 of the 20 for the positions to switch, as Lorenzo ran wide at the final corner to allow Dovizioso through and seal victory by a margin of 0.748 seconds.
Zarco hung on for his second podium of the year, a further eight seconds back, and a similar margin ahead of Marquez in fourth.
The Spaniard admitted he took his foot off the gas after realising that he did not have the pace to challenge the Ducati duo.
"I started the race quite aggressive at the start, then I realise both Ducati's were faster than me," said Marquez. "Maybe if I took more risks I could be champion here, but if I crash I could be only seven or eight points [ahead]. It's better to take it step-by-step."
Poleman Dani Pedrosa slipped to fifth by the end of the opening lap, and remained in that position for the duration, 11s behind team-mate Marquez.
Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci came from last on the grid to a strong sixth place, having suffered a breakdown on the warm-up lap, beating Valentino Rossi on the best of the Yamahas by three tenths.
Maverick Vinales could do no better than ninth on the second works M1, behind the Marc VDS Honda of Jack Miller, while Pol Espargaro's KTM completed the top 10.
Cal Crutchlow was the final points-scorer in 15th after dropping to 21st on the opening lap, while Michael van der Mark missed out on a point in his maiden MotoGP outing on the second Tech3 Yamaha.
Andrea Iannone also failed to score in what turned out to be another dismal outing for Suzuki, as Alex Rins crashed twice before finally being black-flagged for shortcutting his way back to the pits.
Sam Lowes, Karel Abraham and Loris Baz all crashed out too.