Alex Marquez of Spain emerged the winner in the final meters of the Moto3 GP of Japan at the Motegi circuit to give KTM its 20th consecutive victory. But the penultimate round of the 2013 season saw more drama than any other race this season and shook up the championship standings not once but several times.
At the end of one of the most action packed races of the season, Spain’s Maverick Vinales (KTM) was second and Jonas Folger of Germany was third on the Kalex-KTM.
While the younger Marquez brother celebrated his first Moto3 victory it had also been a heart stopping race for the three title contenders and KTM riders Luis Salom, Alex Rins and Maverick Vinales.Most of all, however for the Red Bull KTM Ajo factory team. First they saw Fahmi Khairuddin of Malaysia crash in the opening corner then the race had barely got underway when Isaac Vinales took out championship leader Salom. Having started with a lead of just five points in the championship Salom then went into damage control. He scrambled back into the race at dead last and was setting fastest lap times from the back of the pack in a valiant attempt to get back in the points. Then in lap seven of the 20-lap race he pushed too hard, high-sided and ended in gravel. Certain that this was gong to ruin his chance at the title, he returned to the pits to an equally dejected team while his arch rivals Rins, Vinales and Marquez battled it out at the front.
Then, three laps before the end of the race, Rins also high-sided and was out of the points, temporarily setting up Vinales as a potential points leader going into the final round in Valencia. Vinales and a very ambitious Alex Marquez then fought they way to the finish, exchanging the lead back and forth in a battle that saw Marquez squeeze out the victory in the final meters.
The championship now goes to the final round in Valencia on a knife’s edge with Salom still in the lead by two points from Vinales with Rins five points behind the leader. Everything points to a great race for the sport, the Spanish fans and for KTM, who are in line to take their second World Championship title after Sandro Cortese of Red Bull KTM Ajo won the first ever Moto3 title in 2012.
Motegi 2013 will go down as one of the most dramatic Moto3 races to date. As a typhoon passed across southern Japan on Friday and Saturday, the circuit was either shrouded in fog or deluged in rain forcing all free practices on both days to be cancelled. Teams had only a slightly extended and still partly wet qualifying session and Sunday’s warm-up to set up the bikes only to be greeted with clear blue sky on Sunday for the race.
Moto3 Results Round 16 (of 17)
1, Alex Marquez, Spain, KTM (20th consecutive victory for KTM), 39:45.953
2, Maverick Vinales, Spain, KTM, 39:45.980
3, Jonas Folger, Germany, Kalex-KTM, 39:53.703
5, Miguel Oliviera, Spain, Mahindra, 40:01.842
5, Fenati, Italy, Honda, 40:04.276
6, Jack Miller, Australia, Honda, 40:04.385
7, John Mc Phee, Honda, UK, 40:04.392
8, Niklas Ajo, Finland KTM, 40.11.903
9. Nicola Antonelli, Italy, Honda, 40:11.903
10, Brad Binder, South Africa, Mahindra, 40:18.886
11, Jakub Kornfiel, Czech Republic, Kalex-KTM, 40:19.020
12, Livio Loi, Belgium, Kalex-KTM, 40:19.621
13, Philipp Oettl, Germany, Kalex-KTM, 40:19.621
16, Arthur Sissis, Australia, KTM, 40:28.112
18, Ana Carracso, Spain, KTM, 40:32.440
19, Erich Granado, Brazil, Kalex-KTM, 40:32.958
21, Toni Finsterbusch, Germany, Kalex-KTM, 40:34.449
24, Alex Rins, Spain, KTM, 40:52. 831
DNF Luis Salom
DNF Zulfahmi Khairuddin
Championship standings after round 16 (of 17)
1, Salom 300
2, Vinales, 298
3, Rins, 295
4, Marquez, 200
5, Folger 163
6, Oliviera, 144
7, Miller, 110
8, Masbou 84
9, Vazquez, 17
10, Kornfeil, 68
12, Khairuddin 65
14, Ajo, 62
15, Sissis 59
18. Oettl. 27
21, Loi, 8
23, Iwema 8
24, Granado 7
28, Carrasco 1
1, KTM 400
2, Kalex-KTM 171
3, Mahindra 162