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GP Week : Issue 175
MARQUEZ THE MERCILESS MAKES IT NINE MOTO3 MOTO2 KENT STEALS ANOTHER ONE 28 GPWEEK.com // 28 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: When rising English rider Danny Kent won his first GP at Motegi a month ago, his Red Bull KTM team-mate Sandro Cortese was livid. Kent had passed him with two corners left, and Sandro blamed him (mistakenly, he later admitted) for triggering a crash that meant he had to wait another week to tie up the title. The same thing happened at Valencia, with a last-corner outbraking pass that saw him cross the line just 0.056 seconds ahead of the German. This time, Cortese was happy to congratulate him. They will resume battle in Moto2 next year. It was the culmination of a rainy race with many changes of fortune. Early leader Luis Salom (Kalex KTM) ended up tenth after falling back; potential winners Efren Vazquez (FTR Honda) and Miguel Oliveira (Suter Honda) left the lead group just after half distance when Vazquez took them both down. And Australian rookie Jack Miller (Caretta Honda) crashed out of the front group after picking his way through from 15th on lap one. The bad luck started early for pole qualifier Jonas Folger (Mapfre Kalex KTM). His bike failed on the sighting lap. They managed to get it back for a pit-lane start, but it broke down again with 17 laps to go. Cortese was steadfast, and looked like he might run away after the Vazquez crash left him with a gap of more than a second ahead of a group that had been ten-strong with ten laps to go. Kent took over the pursuit with ten laps to go after Louis Rossi (FTR Honda) ran wide into the first corner, and led the rest back onto Cortese's back wheel. South African rookie Brad Binder (RW Kalex KTM) had been heading for a first rostrum, but he too was snitched on the last corner by Zulfahmi Khairuddin (KTM), the first four over the line in less than half a second. Hector Faubel (FTR Honda) had been with the gang until he ran wide. He was fifth, four seconds adrift; then Rossi three seconds behind him. Jakub Kornfeil (FTR Honda) was seventh, after dropping off a downbeat Maverick Vinales (FTR Honda), who in turned outpaced Niklas Ajo (KTM). With Cortese impregnable, tenth was good enough for Salom to save second overall, 214 points to Vinales's 207. The win secured fourth for Kent, on 154 points to non-scorer Alex Rins (141) Rookie Romano Fenati was also out of the points, finishing sixth on 136. The rain had more or less stopped by the time the lights went green, but the track held water and conditions were tricky. Bad enough that pole starter Pol Espargaro (HP 40 Pons Kalex) would play little part in the race, in conditions he dislikes intensely. A chance for lesser lights to shine, as in Malaysia? Not if Marc Marquez (CatalunyaCaixa Suter) had anything to do with it. Even if he was on the opposite end of the grid, for his latest punishment. Last year, Nico Terol (Mapfre Suter) had won the final 125 title here, but his move to Moto2 had been difficult. But now was his moment. He took off in the lead, Espargaro behind for a couple of laps before falling gradually away and then slipping off, to remount near the back ... so that Terol had two seconds after three laps, his first time up front in the class. The fast guy (Marquez excepted) was Julian Simon (Blusens Avintia Suter), up to second on lap three and closing remorselessly as the pair pulled further and further away from the pack. He caught him on lap seven, passed him next time round, and pulled clear by two seconds within two laps ... a gap that would keep growing. The real excitement was behind. Marquez had a blazing first lap, finishing it in 11th. Now among the faster men in very edgy conditions, his progress slowed. But didn't stop. By half distance, he was with the two riders who had broken free from the grid, Dominique Aegerter (Technomag Suter) and Gino Rea (Federal Oil Suter), and involved in a fierce fight. He almost hit Aegerter at the end of the straight as he got by, turning to wave an apology even as Rea took advantage. But the Briton, on the rostrum in the wet in Malaysia, would not last much longer, falling next time round. Now Marquez was some seven seconds from Terol, but significantly faster as the tyres wore and his special skills came into play. He caught him in just five laps and blew past, then took four laps to shut down a five-second gap to the leader. Simon stuck with him for the last two laps, with Terol now more than ten seconds away in third. Thomas Luthi (Inter wetten Suter) took fourth of Aegerter with two laps to go. Miles back, Jordi Torres (Mapfre Suter) had broken clear for a lonely sixth. Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Kalex) was next, two seconds clear of the recovered Espargaro; Toni Elias (Italtrans Kalex) won a big battle for ninth, ahead of Rabat, Iannone, the remounted Rea and another gang, ninth to 16th covered by just over three seconds. Marquez and Espargaro were already first and second; 11th was good enough to save third for Andrea Iannono, 193 points to Luthi's 190. Redding (161) was fifth. MOTOGP >>> VALENCIA