Rossi beats the heat to put record within reach

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The heat of Malaysia can provide the ultimate test of mechanical performance but there is seemingly little that can affect the domination of Valentino Rossi, as the new world champion completed his 10th grand prix win of the season at Sepang with customary ease.

During the early stages of the race it had appeared that last week's thrills at Phillip Island, when Rossi clinched victory over his nearest rival Max Biaggi by a fraction of a second, might be repeated.

With Biaggi out of the equation after running into the back of reigning world champion Kenny Roberts Jnr, Rossi found it difficult to shake off the pack following his customary poor start. However, he stepped on the gas half-way through the 21-lap race to set a punishing pace, winning by a comfortable 3.55 seconds. "It was hard out there towards the finish because of the heat and when the tyres were going off," explained Rossi. The Honda rider carries a 97-point lead into the season's finale in Brazil in two weeks, where he hopes to equal the record number of 11 wins for an Italian, set by Giacomo Agostini.