British rider Scott Redding came tantalisingly close to a fifth podium of the season at Phillip Island this afternoon as Marc Marquez wrapped up the 2012 Moto2 world title with third place.
Marquez knew heading into the 25-lap race that he only needed to finish 14th to claim his second Grand Prix title as he held a commanding 48-point lead over closest rival Pol Espargaro.
Considering Marquez, who will replace Casey Stoner in the Repsol Honda MotoGP squad in 2013, hasn’t finished lower than fifth all season, the title was pretty much a formality.
Espargaro did all he could to keep the title chase going to a final round decider in Valencia next month as the Spaniard scorched to a dominant fourth victory of the season.
After a sluggish start from pole position, Espargaro took the lead from Marquez on lap three and he was untouchable, building up a leading of over 11 seconds by the end of lap 16. He eventually won by almost 17 seconds.
Marc VDS Racing rider Redding ensured he will finish in at least fifth position in the championship after taking fourth in sunny but cool conditions at the coastal Phillip Island track.
The Gloucestershire rider took second from Marquez on lap six, but by that stage Espargaro had already stretched out a lead of almost 3.5s.
Anthony West came from way back off the battle between Redding and Marquez to get in the hunt for a home podium with five laps remaining.
West moved into third by Marquez with a clinical move at the super-fast Doohan Corner to start lap 23.
West took second from Redding at Turn 4 on final lap and the former factory Kawasaki MotoGP rider survived a late attack from Marquez to follow up his second in a storm-lashed Sepang race.
Redding lost out to Marquez by just 0.120s after the Spaniard dived under with a brave move at the final corner, though his result means he is assured of the highest championship finish by a British rider in the intermediate class since Tom Herron in 1977. He is currently fifth in the rankings with an outside chance of taking fourth at the final round in Valencia on November 11.
Bradley Smith finished in a disappointing 12th, while Gino Rea was unable to repeat his wet weather heroics from last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.
He was third in the Far East in monsoon conditions but his struggle to make the Gresini Suter a top 10 challenger in the dry continued and he finished 21st.