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Kent takes victory in drama-filled Japan race

At the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi it was Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Danny Kent who took his maiden victory in an extremely dramatic Moto3™ race ahead of Maverick Viñales and Alessandro Tonucci.

Whilst Kent got away from the line best, it was RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom who got past to lead the first few corners. Two laps in and it was Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Jonas Folger who led a front group of four riders, with Red Bull’s Sandro Cortese heading a big group for fifth. Technomag-CIP’s Alan Techer was given a ride through penalty because of a jump start, as the leading group with Folger, Salom, Kent and AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin started to pull out a gap. Meanwhile, Mahindra Racing’s Alessandro Moretti was forced to retire with a mechanical issue, while Racing Team Germany’s Toni Finsterbusch had a problem with his bike after highsiding in the lap.

With 13 laps remaining the top four were being closed down by a pursuing group of three led by Team Italia FMI’s Alessandro Tonucci, with Cortese and Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales in tow. Five laps on and it was Folger and Kent that were taking turns leading the race, as Tonucci was stalking them in third, making his move into second behind Folger as the group headed into the final seven laps.

Cortese, who had looked to be cruising, moved past his teammate Kent into third with six laps remaining, as Viñales also started to gather momentum. Three laps before the end Salom’s teammate Brad Binder was forced to retire, as the battle at the front truly commenced with the top six going fairing to fairing.

The last lap could not have been any more dramatic, as Salom pushed for the lead into turn one and took out leader Folger. With Cortese in the lead and Viñales in fourth, the title was set to be the German’s, however Kent and Tonucci pushed their way past Cortese, with the German touching Tonucci’s wheels and dropping his bike, lucky to escape injury as the Italian hit him. Cortese was able to remount, yet could only cross the line in sixth.

In the end it was Kent who came out best to take the chequered flag to record his first ever win, ahead of Maverick Viñales and Alessandro Tonucci, who recorded his first ever podium. This now moves Viñales into second in the championship, 56 points behind Cortese. Behind the trio in fourth was Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins, followed by Khairuddin, Cortese, Rins’ teammate Miguel Oliveira, Racing Team Germany’s Louis Rossi, JHK t-shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez and Tonucci’s teammate Romano Fenati.

Salom was subsequently penalised for the incident with Folger, with the Spainard deemed as "riding in an irresponsible manner during the Moto3 race, causing danger to rider Jonas Folger, which is an infringement to the article 1.21.2 of the 2012 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix regulations", meaning he has a five place grid penalty in Sepang next weekend. No appeal was lodged by his team.

Tags:
Moto3, 2012, RAC

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