Sepang Moto3: Sandro Cortese wins to claim title
Sandro Cortese sealed the inaugural Moto3 crown with a last-lap victory in a tense and thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix
The German only hit the front two turns from the flag, in the process demoting home favourite and Ajo team-mate Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who had led the previous six laps.
The Malaysian rider came back at Cortese down the main straight, but lost the inside line into Turn 15 and was powerless to stop the German in a drag-race to the line.
He nevertheless claimed his first grand prix podium to the delight of a deafening home crowd.
Aspar's Jonas Folger, who had led the opening half of the race, came home third.
"I cant believe it, it's a dream," Cortese said. "With this victory I didn't risk so much - I waited the whole time just to finish ahead of [Luis] Salom and then saw chance to win the championship with victory.
"I wanted to show everyone I can win races like this."
Alongside the mathematics of Cortese's championship bid and the overwhelming support for Khairuddin - audible whenever he hit the front - the race took an added dimension as black clouds threatened late on.
For a while that made every fight to the line a potential victory fight, although spots of rain ultimately never developed into a storm and the race went the distance.
In the uncertain conditions Khairuddin hit the front, while Luis Salom (RW Kalex-KTM) - the only man capable of stopping Cortese following Maverick Vinales' exit - dropped back.
Salom had fought back from 10th to third, ahead of Cortese, but the effort proved his undoing and he was unable to stick with the lead trio over the final laps.
He hung on to claim fourth ahead of Monlau Suter-Honda men Miguel Oliviera and Alex Rins, the pair sandwiching Motegi race-winner Danny Kent.
Efren Vazquez came home seventh ahead of Niklas Ajo, who triumphed in a massive seven-bike fight for ninth.
Results - 18 laps: Pos Rider Team/Bike Time/Gap 1. Sandro Cortese Ajo KTM 40m54.123s 2. Zulfahmi Khairuddin Ajo KTM + 0.028s 3. Jonas Folger Aspar Kalex-KTM + 0.247s 4. Luis Salom RW Kalex-KTM + 8.503s 5. Miguel Oliveira Monlau Suter-Honda + 8.674s 6. Danny Kent Ajo KTM + 9.335s 7. Alex Rins Monlau Suter-Honda + 18.973s 8. Efren Vazquez Laglisse FTR-Honda + 25.419s 9. Niklas Ajo TT Motion KTM + 30.714s 10. Adrian Martin Laglisse FTR-Honda + 30.763s 11. Arthur Sissis Ajo KTM + 30.886s 12. Brad Binder RW Kalex-KTM + 31.019s 13. Jack Miller Caretta Honda + 31.225s 14. Alex Marquez Ambrogio Suter-Honda + 31.313s 15. Niccolo Antonelli Gresini FTR-Honda + 31.649s 16. Jakub Kornfeil Ongetta FTR-Honda + 31.715s 17. Alessandro Tonucci Italia FMI FTR-Honda + 31.790s 18. Alberto Moncayo Laglisse FTR-Honda + 32.147s 19. Isaac Vinales Ongetta FTR-Honda + 39.364s 20. Romano Fenati Italia FMI FTR-Honda + 45.824s 21. Alan Techer Technomag-CIP TSR-Honda + 46.622s 22. John McPhee Caretta KRP Honda + 46.672s 23. Toni Finsterbusch Germany Honda + 46.790s 24. Luca Amato Aspar Kalex-KTM + 1m09.086s 25. Josep Rodriguez FGR Honda + 1m15.734s 26. Giulian Pedone Ambrogio Suter-Honda + 1m33.717s 27. Kenta Fujii Technomag-CIP TSR-Honda + 1m33.811s 28. Armando Pontone Ioda Italia + 1m54.114s Retirements: Danny Webb Mahindra 8 laps Louis Rossi Germany FTR-Honda 5 laps Riccardo Moretti Mahindra MGP30 1 lap
Sepang Moto3: Zulfahmi Khairuddin claims first pole at home
Apologetic Maverick Vinales rejoins Avintia for final Moto3 rounds