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Marquez wins as Salom and Rins crash

Marquez wins as Salom and Rins crash

Alex Marquez has claimed his first ever World Championship race victory in the Moto3™ AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan. In a race full of surprises, title contenders Luis Salom and Alex Rins both suffered crashes before Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Marquez beat Maverick Viñales by just two hundredths of a second.

The events of Sunday could not have been scripted at Twin Ring Motegi. Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) started from his seventh pole position of the season, whereas championship leader Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was fourth on the grid and would claim the title if he won with Rins 11th or lower. However, the destiny of the championship would be shaken up on various occasions throughout the race.

It was a shocking opening lap for Red Bull KTM Ajo. Just seconds after Zulfahmi Khairuddin retired in a Turn 1 incident with Ambrogio Racing’s Brad Binder, Salom was involved in V Corner collision with Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Isaac Viñales. The Mallorcan rejoined and proceeded to post lap records as he began a charge back up the order, only to highside out of contention at Turn 4 on Lap 8.

Knowing the championship leader was out, Rins was set to top the points table as he ran third behind Viñales (Team Calvo) and teammate Marquez on the 14th lap, following an entertaining scrap with both of the riders in front of him. Unbelievably, a mistake from Rins saw him lose control to throw the championship fight wide open once again. He rejoined the race but recovered only to 24th position, out of the points.

It was Viñales who led into the final tour, but an error at Turn 10 was more than the invitation Marquez needed. The younger brother of MotoGP™ championship leader Marc would hold on for his first victory by the margin of 27 thousandths of a second. Viñales shot back up into title contention with second place, with the podium completed by Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger.

A somewhat quiet place for Mahindra Racing’s Miguel Oliveira ended with fourth position, while a dramatic fight for fifth saw San Carlo Team Italia’s Romano Fenati beating Caretta Technology – RTG duo Jack Miller and John McPhee. The top ten was rounded out by Niklas Ajo (Avant Tecno), Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3) and the aforementioned Binder. There was also contentment for Japan’s Hyuga Watanabe, who scored for La Fonte Tascaracing. Nine riders failed to make the finish, including Ongetta-Rivacold’s Alexis Masbou who crashed on the final lap.

The remarkable events of Motegi leave Moto3™ with a triangular final round shootout for the title. Salom will head into the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana with a two-point lead over Viñales, with Rins only a further three in arrears. Valencia will be the venue on 10 November.


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