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GP Week : Issue 171
MARQUEZ ONCE MORE AFTER LUCKY ESCAPE MOTO3 MOTO2 LAST-LAP MAYHEM KEEPS TITLE ALIVE 40 GPWEEK.com // 40 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Moto3’s first race at Honda’s own track clearly favoured the faster KTM, with four in a leading pack of six. Then three of them were eliminated in two last-lap accidents, as 18-year-old Briton Danny Kent claimed his first victory on the sole surviving Austrian bike. In fact, erstwhile leader Sandro Cortese did remount to claim sixth, furiously blaming Red Bull team-mate Kent for an incident that meant he will have to wait at least one more race before he can call himself champion. The pair had both been chasing long- time leader Jonas Folger (Kalex KTM), in a lead group including Luis Salom (Kalex KTM) and hitherto lacklustre Alessandro Tonucci, with Maverick Vinales (both FTR Honda) hanging on grimly. Folger led as they started the last lap, but as he swung towards the first apex Salom arrived at speed inside him, and so unlikely to make the turn that Race Direction subsequently hit him with a five-position grid penalty for next weekend in Malaysia. They both crashed, the German incandescent, the Spaniard’s fervent apologies defusing a potential gravel- trap brawl. Now Cortese led, but Kent drafted him down the back straight and outbraked him into the notorious bottom bend before the second underpass, fishtailing to the apex. Cortese was pushed wide and Tonucci took the chance to slip past. On the corner exit the Italian moved across on Kent, just as Cortese arrived on his faster exit line. They collided and Cortese went down. Tonucci all but ran over him as Vinales slipped past inside for a lucky second. Alex Rins (Suter Honda) and Zulfahmi Khairuddin (KTM) had dropped out of the lead group to battle for fourth, finishing in that order; Cortese ten seconds down. The next six were over the line in less than a second: Oliveira, Rossi, Vazquez, Fenati, Sissis and Antonelli. With 75 points on the table Cortese leads Vinales 255 to 199; then Salom (194), Fenati (126) and Rins (119). Pilots say that any landing you walk away from is a good one. After what happened to Marquez on the start line, any result would have been a good one. Being the coolest customer, fiercest competitor and fastest rider on the grid, he made it first place. For the eighth time this year. Rival Pol Espargaro (Kalex) was on pole, Marquez (Suter) qualified second. But as the lights said ‘Go’, he didn’t move. He’d not selected first gear fully. Pit-wall onlookers gasped in horror as riders swerved past on either side as he frantically stamped on the gear lever and got rolling. His first lap was an education in aggressive brinkmanship. Almost last away, he was scything through groups of riders at every corner, and was up to ninth by the end of it and still in fast-for ward mode. Scott Redding (Kalex) led lap one, but Esteve Rabat (Kalex) took over for the next eight. By then, Marquez was in the slightly spaced lead group, and had just past Espargaro for second. The orange CatalunyaCaixa bike led for the first time on lap ten, and as Marquez pulled clear only Espargaro could go with him, Rabat steadily losing touch to finish almost ten seconds adrift. The Spanish rivals fought closely and with increasing ferocity as the laps ticked down. They changed places more than once, but Marquez always seemed to have the upper hand, and so it proved ... by less than half a second as he fought off every last-lap lunge. Redding had dropped back to a lively scrap with Thomas Luthi (Suter) and returned and revitalised former champion Toni Elias (Kalex), until he slipped off on lap 20. Redding narrowly kept Luthi at bay for fourth; behind Simone Corsi did the same to Takaaki Nakagami for sixth. Eighth to 13th were covered by 1.6 seconds after a fine sustained battle. Class rookie Johann Zarco (Motobi) took control in the last two laps, from Pons, Aegerter, Simon, West and Torres. Marquez once again stretched his lead over Aragon winner Espargaro, 283 to 230. He needs one more race to be certain. Iannone, a dire 18th today, has 178; then Luthi 177 and Redding 144. MOTOGP >>> MOTEGI