British rider Danny Kent claimed his first Grand Prix victory in Japan after a dramatic final lap of another pulsating Moto3 race.
Kent started the last lap in fifth position with his hopes of a maiden victory looking unlikely after he had started from pole position for the first time in his career.
But he was moved into third when Spaniard Luis Salom made a hash of a pass at the first corner that saw him crash and wipe out German Jonas Folger in the process, who had led for most of the race.
More drama was to follow then when Kent dived under Red Bull KTM teammate Sandro Cortese in the final hard braking zone on the last lap. Kent had vowed to attack for the win with no team orders in place and he made a well-executed and clean pass on the inside of the German to snatch the lead.
Cortese then collided with Alessandro Tonucci and tumbled out approaching the final corner, which left Kent to claim his first victory by 0.260s from Maverick Vinales.
He became the first British rider to win a Grand Prix since Bradley Smith took the victory in the Valencia 125GP race almost two years ago.
Cortese remounted to finish in sixth place but he was clearly incensed that Kent had even attempted a pass on the final lap. With Salom out and Vinales fourth at that stage, Cortese would have been crowned world champion had he finished on the podium.
He was waving his arms furiously at 18-year-old Kent on the final lap and then remonstrated with Red Bull KTM team management in protest at Kent’s move when he got back to the pits.
Despite his obvious rage, Cortese saw his advantage in the standings increased to 56-points with just three races remaining after Salom’s moment of madness saw him slip to third behind Vinales.
Tonucci took the final spot on the podium with a surprise result after the Italian had only scored one top 10 finish all season prior to today’s nail-biting 20-lap encounter.
British duo John McPhee and Danny Webb finished 21st and 26th respectively.