Luis Salom has extended his Moto3™ championship lead by coming out on top of a multiple-rider battle in Malaysia. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider beat Alex Rins by just 69 thousands of a second, with Miguel Oliveira completing the podium.
After 18 circulations of the Sepang International Circuit, the lead had changed almost by the lap, with a dramatic race always a prospect after a shaking up of the usual order in Saturday’s qualifying session. Salom started from pole position, with Ongetta-Rivacold’s Alexis Masbou and GO&FUN Gresini Moto3’s Niccolo Antonelli sharing the front row. Masbou would take the lead as the race began, but by the time the final lap arrived the Frenchman had fallen to seventh while a six-rider group battled for the positions at the sharp end of the race.
Leading into the final lap, Salom would lose his advantage to Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Rins but had critically retaken the advantage as the pack headed down the back straight for the final time. Rins attacked at the final corner, but was narrowly deprived of a hat-trick of consecutive victories. In third place, Miguel Oliveira and Mahindra Racing collected their first podium finish of the 2013 campaign, while the top five was completed by Rins’ teammate Alex Marquez and Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales (both of whom had taken turns in the lead), with Jack Miller sixth for Caretta Technology – RTG, but only one second behind the winner.
The aforementioned Masbou ended his day in seventh spot, ahead of Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger who had topped the Warm-Up session, while Team Calvo’s Ana Carrasco was delighted to score her first World Championship point courtesy of 15th position. However, there was immense disappointment for Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, unable to race in his home Grand Prix and in which he finished a close second last year, as he suffered pain from the wrist injury he sustained last time out in Aragón. Eight riders failed to finish, including front row starter Antonelli and CIP Moto3’s Alan Techer who was taken to the Medical Centre after suffering a fracture to his left kneecap.
Salom’s victory raises his points total to 284 with three races remaining, leading Rins by 14 points with a maximum of 75 still on off. Viñales sites third on 258 points, 26 in arrears of Salom ahead of next weekend’s Tissot Australian Grand Prix.
|Moto3™ Race Classification|
|1- Luis Salom||SPA||KTM||40:42.441|
|2- Alex Rins||SPA||KTM||+0.069|
|3- Miguel Oliveira||POR||Mahindra||+0.408|