Until today, the races outside Europe didn't satisfy Dovizioso much. Being able to get on the podium at Sepang gave Andrea a bit of the confidence he needed to finish the season. It was since Motegi that Andrea hadn't raised a trophy to the sky on a Sunday.
"This third place is important, especially on this track, where I never managed to have such a race with the typical Malaysian heat. My gap with Vinales was limited," he emphasized. "I have to thank the Ducati because it really helped me a lot at the start."
Marquez said he saw "a red missile", and this allowed Dovi to get in the right position. But he still feels bad.
"I was hoping for something more, to be able to battle it out with Marquez." he admitted. "I tried to follow him, but as soon as I tried to do something more, I went long in two corners."
When he realized that Marc was out of reach, Andrea had to deal with another headache: Valentino.
"When you're up front, you never know what your opponent's strengths and weaknesses are ," he explained. "But it was the right strategy, first of all, since the tires heat up a lot when you follow another bike, then because I had better acceleration. I knew that for a rider who rides a Yamaha, it would have been difficult against a Ducati."
He was absolutely right.
"I slowed a lot in the middle of the corner because the tires didn't let me do more, but this doesn't mean that we were riding slowly," continued Dovi. "And when Rossi passed me, I realized he was also at his limit. He didn't have many cards to play."
However, this was not enough to make him feel okay.
"Valentino never gives up. He's aggressive but never crazy. He doesn't do stupid things. Also since there was a risk that Rins would catch up," he said. "It was a good fight, but I was able to defend myself. I used specific maps to avoid stressing the tires.
The Ducati engine did the rest. It made the M1 resemble a Moto2 on the long straights in Sepang.
"Since I've been riding the Ducati, I've never seen such a big difference on the Yamaha," Dovizioso observed. "In fifth and sixth gear, my advantage was really big. This makes you think a lot. The gap we suffered in qualifying means the M1 is really fast in corners. But it's different in the race and, in hindsight, I can say that I had more cards to play than Valentino."