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Sho Nishimura has extended his lead in the standings after a dramatic Race 1 at Sepang International Circuit, with the first showdown of the weekend cut short by a Red Flag after a mutliple-rider incident with five laps to go. Indonesian Afridza Munandar and Japanese rider Takuma Matsuyama, who remains second in the Championship, completed the podium.
It was Shoki Igarashi who took the holeshot from third on the grid, slotting into the lead ahead of Matsuyama as polesitter Nishimura lost out slightly off the line. But it wouldn't stay that way for long as the number 11 machine of Matsuyama soon attacked and took the lead, initially then pushing to try and break away but Nishimuraable to pull him back in. And so it became a group of four fighting at the front, with Munandar up in the mix.
Warit Thongnoppakun was on the chase, however, with the Thai rider managing to chip away at the gap and join the foursome in the lead. Could he get into a podium position and take his second rostrum finish? As it transpired, he wouldn't get the chance as some serious drama was about to hit the second group.
A multiple-rider crash saw Hildhan Kusuma, Adenanta Putra, Tatchakorn Buasri and Abdul Mutaqim all go down, and soon after the Red Flag was shown, bringing the race to an early end. That meant that last time over the line decided the winner – and it had been close. By an infinitesimal 0.060 the win goes to Nishimura, with the Japanese rider just ahead of Munandar, and Matsuyama completes the podium. Thongnoppakun and Igarashi complete the top five.
Because the results are taken from the last time over the line, it's Putra classified sixth, ahead of home hero Syarifuddin Azman as the Malaysian put in a top performance on home turf. Herjun Firdaus takes P8, with Hildhan Kusuma and Piyawat Patoomyos completing the top ten. Buasri and Mutaqim were 11th and 12th and the last two in a tight freight train of seven riders within a few tenths before the key incident. Riders were all 'ok' after the crash, although Buasri and Mutaqim were sent for further checks.
Australian Harrison Voight took P13 and some points after a top qualifying, with Ryosuke Bando and second Malaysian Idil Mahadi completing the scorers.
That's it from Race 1 alongside the Malaysia Superbike Championship, Race 2 begins on Sunday at 13:10 (GMT +8) so make sure to tune in!
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