Moto3 World Champion Sandro Cortese of Germany rode another masterly race on Sunday for his fifth win of the inaugural season in the new class of MotoGP in an incident filled race that saw his young Australian Red Bull KTM Ajo factory teammate Arthur Sissis on the podium in third behind Portugal’s Miguel Oliviera.
Cortese started on pole on the magnificent sweeping circuit at Phillip Island and took the lead in the third lap while all around him was unraveling. The board went out to indicate a number of riders had jump started and were facing a ride through penalty. Among those whose number came up on the yellow drive through board were Jonas Folger and Luis Salom on the two Kalex-KTMs, effectively removing them from contention in the 23-lap race.
Cortese’s teammate Zulfahmi Khairuddin was the early leader in the opening laps and looked like he was going to score another strong result after his first podium last week in Sepang. Then the Malaysian rider dropped down the order after the reshuffle that followed the drive through penalty and eventually exited the race. Meanwhile both Sissis and teammate Niklas Ajo were also up with the podium contenders and while the Australian managed to stick with the following pack, his Finnish teammate Ajo had several crashes and eventually had to retire.
Six laps into the race, Cortese and Miguel Oliviera made the break and began to amass a significant advantage while the dogfight for third emerged as the main issue of the event. Maverick Vinales, the Spanish rider who last week had not raced after a dispute with his team was back and racing for second in the championship. His race lasted until he crashed in Siberia corner with eight laps to go.
Then with a handful of laps to go, Oliviera made one attempt to break away from Cortese but the German, who has shown infinite tactical skill this season followed in his slipstream for several laps then slipped by and was not tackled again. Behind the two leaders, the battle for third was raging with Sissis going hard on the brakes into the corner and oscillating between third and fifth place. Coming into the home stretch his British teammate Danny Kent was also in the mix for podium third but Sissis, a Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup graduate, positioned himself perfectly and to the delight of the home crowd, made third place stick. It was his best career performance in his first season in the senior ranks.
The result was another triumph for the KTM Moto3 GP machine, especially developed by the Austrian manufacturer for this new series and which has been in the forefront of the competition throughout the season, KTM now leads the manufacturer’s standings by 26 points from FTR Honda with Kalex-KTM in third
Photos by Gold and Goose
Results Moto3 GP Australia (penultimate round)
1, Sandro Cortese, Germany KTM, 38:20.14 (Already World Champion – fifth win of the season)
2, Miguel Oliviera, Portugal, Suter Honda, 38:22.122
3, Arthur Sissis, Australia, KTM, 38:25.045
4, Alex Rins, Spain, Suter Honda, 38:25098
5, Danny Kent, Britain, KTM 38:25.098
6, Romano Fenati, Italy Honda, 348:25.123
11, Jonas Folger, Germany, Kalex-KTM, 38:52.817
14, Brad Binder, South Africa, 38:54.116
15, Luis Salom, Spain, Kalex-KTM 39:03.763
DNF Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Malaysia
DNF Niklas Ajo, Finland, KTM
DNF Luca Amato, Italy, Kalex-KTM
Championship Standings after penultimate race
1, Cortese, 305
2, Salom 208
3, Vinales, 199
4, Rins, 141
5, Fenati, 136
6, Kent, 129
8, Khairuddin, 112
9, Folgerm 93
11, Sissis, 84
19, Ajo, 33
24, Binder 11
1, KTM 321
2, FTR Honda, 295
3, Kalex-KTM, 249