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Cortese wins Moto3™ Estoril thriller

Cortese wins Moto3™ Estoril thriller

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese took victory in a thrilling battle to the line with rival Maverick Viñales at the Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril.

It was Cortese who got the holeshot and led into the first corner, ahead of Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales, Air-Asia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Miguel Oliveira and JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez.

After the typical Moto3 melee of 34 bikes swapping places in the opening laps, a leading group of Cortese, RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom, Vázquez, Viñales and Cortese’s teammate Kent started to pull away. There was heartbreak early on for the Portuguese crowd, as Oliveira pulled into the pits with a mechanical issue.

San Carlo Gresini Moto3’s Niccolo Antonelli was showing some good form, and made a bold move on Kent with 16 laps to go to take sixth, but the Briton fought back immediately. On the same lap, Mahindra Racing’s Danny Webb retired to the pits following an issue with his bike.

As Viñales was heading the leading group, the majority of action was taking place in the four-way battle for fifth between Fenati, Kent, Antonelli and Vázquez. In a stunning pass at the end of the home straight, Fenati took advantage of the others running wide to take fifth, though was taken back immediately by Kent on turn two. With 12 laps to go, Viñales and Cortese upped the pace, leaving Salom and Khairuddin to tussle for the final podium spot.

Nine laps before the end, both Kent and Fenati rode into the gravel, pushing both back in the pack. The Italian’s luck got even worse as he and Racing Team Germany’s Louis Rossi both crashed out a few turns latter in the same incident. Rossi has now crashed out of two races in succession.

A few laps later, MotoFGR’s Jasper Iwema lost the front of his bike and ended his race early, while back at the front Cortese moved past Viñales at the end of the straight to take the lead. Cortese could not shake the young Spaniard as the two were wheel to wheel for the final three laps. Salom also took the fight to Khairuddin, as he pushed past him on the first bend with two laps to go.

The last lap was a nail-biting affair as Viñales and Cortese touched fairings throughout, yet it was the German who won the drag to the line after the final bend, to take his first victory of the season and the lead in the championship. The last step on the podium went to Salom, who manage to oust Khairuddin into fourth. The top ten were rounded out by Efrén Vázquez, Niccolo Antonelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins, Danny Kent, Caretta-Technology’s Alexis Masbou and Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Jakub Kornfeil.


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