2008 MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi rode a perfect race in exhausting conditions at Sepang on Sunday to take his ninth win of the season and his 150th grand prix podium.

The Italian is only the second rider in the history of the sport to reach that milestone, the other being Giacomo Agostini, whose all-time premier-class win record Rossi has already broken this season.

With temperatures in excess of 40 degrees, Sunday's penultimate round of the 2008 world championship race was clearly going to be a test of endurance, both for riders and tyres.

Rossi, starting from second, crossed the line for the first time in third position but was soon able to pass Andrea Dovizioso, then set the fastest lap of the race as he hunted down Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa.

The leading pair gradually began to open out clear air from the chasing pack, but the gap between them remained at just a few tenths for the next eight laps.

Rossi eventually made his move at mid-distance, passing Pedrosa on the brakes into the hairpin at turn nine and was then unchallenged to the chequered flag, crossing the line 4.008sec ahead of the Spaniard with Dovizioso in third.

"I am so happy with this win today because all of the toughest championship of my career, including with Yamaha in 2004, have been won with nine victories," said Rossi, who also took nine wins in 2003. "Of course that doesn't mean I don't want to win again next week, 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!" he revealed.

Rossi also paid tribute to countryman Marco Simoncelli, who wrapped up his first world championship in the 250cc class at Sepang.

"Finally I want to congratulate my friend Marco Simoncelli for winning the 250cc World Championship today. I know how hard he has worked to get here and he really deserves it - I am very happy for him," said The Doctor.

"Nine wins sounds good! Now that we've won the world championship it's great to race for fun and to think only of winning and today was just like that," stated Fiat Yamaha team manager Davide Brivio. "Valentino rode a perfect race; he started well, followed Dani for some time then passed him and escaped and he did a good job to keep his concentration and rhythm in such hot conditions. This has been another great day in a fantastic season for us and now we're looking forward to one more in Valencia."

The18th and final round of the season will take place at Valencia next weekend, with Rossi looking to avenge two bad years at the track and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo determined to secure the rookie of the year title with a positive performance after falling from sixth place at Sepang.



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