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EG 0,0 Marc VDS’ Alex Marquez is the 2019 Moto2™ World Champion after coming across the line second at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix behind Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder, who did all he could to take the title fight down to the final round by taking his fourth win of the season.
It was the South African who took the holeshot from the outside of the front row of the grid with Marquez settling into second having started from pole. The pair began to pull clear of ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Tetsuta Nagashima, who had his eye on a debut intermediate class podium.
As the fight for the World Championship raged at the front, the battle over being crowned Rookie of the Year in Moto2™ took not one, not two but three twists as leading contenders Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up), Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) all crashed out in the space of two laps.
On lap four, Binder made a mistake into Turn 14, running extremely wide and consequently gifting the lead to Marquez. The Spaniard had 15 laps ahead of him with the 2019 Moto2™ crown now insight. Binder, however, would make him work for it and, with now 12 laps remaining, he made the first lunge under Marquez to try to reclaim the lead. He would run wide at Turn 15, alllowing Marquez back through, but quickly tucked in behind the Kalex before pulling out and diving through on the brakes into the first corner.
The pair’s squabble at the front would allow Nagashima and another title protagonist in the form of Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) back into the mix too. That was before Nagashima had a huge moment as he wound it up onto the back straight and, as a result, the Japanese rider slipped back to fourth and lost touch with Marquez. Now it was up to Lüthi to try to stop Marquez from wrapping up the title.
As the Swiss rider pushed hard and tried to get to within half a second of the number 73 ahead of him, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) had a coming together at Turn 9. The Briton tried to squeeze past the Aussie but got it all wrong and ended up taking both of them out of top ten contention.
The laps ticked away and the pressure mounted, but Marquez didn’t fold as the leading trio entered the final lap. No last lap drama followed, meaning Binder came out of the final corner and celebrated a fourth intermediate class victory of the season but there were wilder celebrations just half a second later when Marquez crossed the line and became the first man in history to have won the Moto3™ and Moto2™ World Championships. Lüthi took third and a seventh rostrum of the season, but the sixteen points weren’t enough to hold onto second in the standings as Binder leapfrogged him.
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Here is your 2019 Moto2™ World Champion!
Fourth place went the way of Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) having got the better of Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) in the final laps. Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) came across the line in a lonely sixth, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP40) three-quarters of a second behind in seventh. Nagashima eventually faded in the closing stages and ended up eighth despite being in podium contention up to half race distance. The top ten was completed by Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) in ninth and Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) in tenth.
With only two riders from the intermediate class making the step up to MotoGP™ in 2020, Binder and Lecuona, there's some serious momentum to be built at the final round of the year in Valencia. Who will take the title fight to Marquez in 2020? You're likely to get your best indication in two weeks.
1. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
2. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 0.758
3. Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) + 2.683
4. Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 6.646
5. Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) + 7.114
6. Iker Lecuona (monday.com American Racing) + 8.582
7. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) + 9.232
8. Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) + 10.180
9. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) + 10.807
10. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 14.585
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