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Oliveira victory in Moto3™ keeps title hopes alive

Oliveira victory in Moto3™ keeps title hopes alive

Miguel Oliveira’s fourth win of the season means the Moto3™ title fight continues to Sepang as Kent and Bastianini crash out.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Oliveira took victory to prevent Leopard Racing’s Danny Kent from lifting the Moto3™ World Championship battle in an incredibly dramatic race at Phillip Island. Efren Vazquez and Brad Binder completed the podium as Kent was taken out from behind by Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) on lap 14, in an incident that also saw Bastianini crash and end the Italian's slim hopes of lifting the title.

Coming into the race Kent led the standings by 56 points from Bastianini, with Oliveira’s chances of lifting the title in third looking like a distant possibility as he trailed Kent by 65 points. Kent, starting from 7th after a three-place grid penalty, looked to have the title in the bag as Bastianini had to start from 28th on the grid. But once the lights went out, the form book was thrown out of the window as the slipstream effect at the track made it impossible for anyone to break away at the front. It was a tentative game of cat and mouse with Kent and Gresini Racing Team Moto3’s Enea Bastianini knowing a mistake could gift the other the title.

All the talk before hand was about the two title rivals, but from the start it was Oliveira who led the way. Kent bided his time in the leading group, but on lap 10 he was clipped by Jorge Martin (Mapfre Team Mahindra), ran wide and dropped to 16th as a group of five led by Oliveira broke away at the front. Bastianini at this point was in 7th, 4.3s ahead of the Brit. Kent fought his way back through the pack and by lap 13 he had passed Bastianini and was once again involved in the scrap for the lead along with the Italian. Then disaster struck as Antonelli took out Kent on the exit of turn 3. The Italian clipped the back of the Leopard Racing Honda forcing Kent to highside violently and the Brit must have thought his chances of lifting the title at Phillip Island had gone up in smoke. To his surprise, Bastianini dramatically also crashed at the same corner, meaning both men were out of the race and the Italian's title hopes were over.

This meant Kent would be crowned champion if Oliveira finished off the podium, but the Portuguese rider had other ideas. He had been battling at the front in a group that included Vazquez, his teammate Brad Binder, Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) but made his move as the group crossed the line to start the final lap. Once Oliveira was in the lead, he rode masterfully to ensure he would not be overtaken and held on in the drag to the line to take the victory by just 0.132s from Vazquez. This meant he had cut Kent’s lead in the standings to 40 points, with 50 remaining in the last two races.

Oliveira’s teammate Binder (+0.161s) completed the podium for the third time this season, beating the fourth placed Navarro to the line by just nine-thousandths of a second. Drive M7 SIC’s Jakub Kornfeil (+0.288s) recovered to finish in fifth after he ran wide on lap 7, while Romano Fenati (+1.006s) was sixth on the Sky Racing Team VR46 KTM.

Phillip Oettl (RW Racing GP), Isaac Viñales (RBA Racing Team), Alexis Masbou (SAXOPRINT RTG) and Remy Gardner (CIP) completed the top ten. It was Gardner’s first ever GP top ten finish while Maria Herrera (Husqvarna Factory Laglisse) also achieved her career best result in 11th.

Pole man John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG) was enjoying the best race of his career, fighting at the front during the opening stages of the race before he unfortunately crashed at turn 6 on the seventh lap, taking out Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) in the process. There were also DNF’s for Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Andrea Locatelli, Matt Barton, Jules Danilo, Juanfran Guevara, Andrea Migno and Livio Loi.

Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Fabio Quartararo was forced to pull out of the race before the start on his comeback from injury, as the pain in his ankle proved to be too much for the French rider.

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

Moto3, 2015, PRAMAC AUSTRALIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX, RAC, Efren Vazquez, Miguel Oliveira, Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Ajo

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