Cortese takes thrilling Australia win as local new talent emerges
AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin got a lighting start as he led the early stages, followed by RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom, who had made his way up from ninth. Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger and Racing Team Germany’s Louis Rossi were in tow, as Cortese was stalking them from behind.
Mahindra Racing’s weekend took a turn for the worse as Ricardo Moretti had to retire after just a few laps. In a dramatic twist, Folger, Salom, Rossi, Andalucia JHK t-shirt Laglisse’s Alberto Moncayo and Caretta Technology’s Jack Miller were given ride-through penalties for jump-starts. Rossi, before even seeing the board, made an error in the leading pack as he went onto the grass, but managed to stay upright.
TT Motion Events Racing’s Niklas Ajo saved a near crash with 16 laps remaining, whilst Cortese had taken over the lead after much of the leading pack had completed their penalties. Also making use of this was Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Miguel Oliveira in second, whilst Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales was tussling with Cortese’s teammate Arthur Sissis for fourth. 13 laps before the end and Ajo was not so lucky again as he dropped his bike in the gravel.
Meanwhile, Team Italia FMI duo of Romano Fenati and Alessandro Tonucci, Oliveira’s teammate Alex Rins, JHK t-shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez and Red Bull’s Danny Kent had joined the group chasing the final podium spot. Folger’s teammate Luca Amato retired from the race at the halfway point. With eight laps remaining it was drama for Viñales as he crashed his bike, putting an end to his charge.
Two laps later and Oliveira made his move on Cortese to take the lead for the first time. On the same lap, Racing Team Germany’s Toni Finsterbusch suffered a mechanical issue and retired from the race. Khairuddin then suffered a similar fate, as Cortese re-took the lead. The last two laps proved a thrilling affair in the fight for the final podium spot between Rins, Sissis, Kent, Fenati and Vázquez, with the riders going fairing-to-fairing at times
In the end it was Cortese who crossed the line first ahead of podium sitters Oliveira and Sissis, with the Australian particularly pleased to get his first GP podium in front of his home crowd. With the country’s MotoGP star Casey Stoner retiring at the end of this year, the crowd will be happy to see that a possible replacement is coming up through the ranks. Fourth place went to Rins, followed by Kent, Fenati, Tonucci, Vázquez, Ambrogio Next Racing’s Alex Márquez and Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Isaac Viñales. Rins now leads the Rookie standings from Fenati by 5 points.
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