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Oliveira wins to take title fight to Valencia

Oliveira wins to take title fight to Valencia

Miguel Oliveira takes his fifth win of the season in an incredibly dramatic Moto3 race as title rival Kent crosses the line in 7th.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Oliveira pulled off a sensational last-lap victory at the Shell Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix to ensure that the 2015 Moto3™ World Championship battle will go down to the wire. In an incredibly dramatic finish, his title rival Danny Kent ran wide at the last corner and crossed the line in 7th, which means the Brit was denied the title but he will take a 24-point lead into the final round at Valencia. Oliveira’s teammate Brad Binder and Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Jorge Navarro completed the podium.

Starting from third on the gird, Oliveira was involved in an excellent battle at the front between Binder, Navarro, Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold), Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46), Francesco Bagnaia (Mapfre Team Mahindra) and Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC).

Kent on the other hand, after his three-place grid penalty relegated him to ninth at the start, dropped down to 16th in the opening laps and looked to be struggling. Slowly but surely and despite a number of riders crashing in front of him – including his two teammates Hiroki Ono and Efren Vazquez - Kent started to make his way through the field and by lap 9 he was on the back wheel of the seventh placed Antonelli.

As the laps ticked down, the lead swapped hands repeatedly at the front due to the slipstream effect down the two long straights at the Sepang International Circuit. Kent knew he just had to finish in fifth and even if Oliveira won, he would be crowned the first British World Champion Since Barry Sheene won the 500cc title in 1977.

With three laps to go, Bagnaia crashed out and Kent was up to 6th. Then, on the penultimate lap Kent made a move on Antonelli to secure fifth, and at this point the title looked to be his. As the started the final lap, Kent made a move on Fenati at turn 1, but left himself exposed to Antonelli who re-took the vital fifth place. Kent fought back at turn 4, but Antonelli responded at turn 9. It was all going to comedown to the final two straights and the infamous turn 15.

This was the point when Oliveira timed it perfectly to make his move for the race win on his teammate Binder at the very last corner. Would Kent get past Antonelli to become champion? The answer was incredibly no. Kent ran wide at the final corner and eventually crossed the line in seventh, missing out on the title. Now the championship will be decided in Valencia.

Oliveira's victory was his third in the last 5 races, during which he hasn’t finished lower than second. In the same 5 races, Kent has two sixth placed finishes, one seventh and two DNF’s.

Binder rode superbly to claim his fourth podium of the year, ahead of Navarro who was on the podium for the third time in the last four races. Antonelli made it back-to-back fourth places, while Romano Fenati pulled off his best result since Aragon in fifth.

Kornfeil kept the fans happy by crossing the line in sixth at his team’s home grand prix, with Championship leader Kent missing out on his third chance to the lift the title this season in seventh. It was Kent’s worst finish since he achieved the same result at Brno.

Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Team Moto3) led home the chasing group, over four seconds behind Kent in 8th. SAXOPRINT RTG teammates Alexis Masbou and John McPhee completed the podium.

In the Moto3™ standings Kent now has 253 points to Oliveira’s 229, which means Kent needs just two points at Valencia to become champion even if Oliveira wins. For Oliveira to pull off an incredible fight back and lift the title, he needs to win and Kent has to be 15th or lower.

There were crashes for local hero Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Manuel Pagliani, Karel Hanika and Darryn Binder.

Fabio Quartararo missed the whole race weekend due to injury and Alessandro Tonucci was declared unfit after a crash in FP2, while Andrea Locatelli withdrew from the weekend after FP1 due to pain from his injured coccyx.

Check out the full Moto3™ race results and the latest championship standings.

Tags:
Moto3, 2015, SHELL MALAYSIA MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX, RAC, Brad Binder, Miguel Oliveira, Jorge Navarro, Red Bull KTM Ajo

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