Sandro Cortese wrapped up the inaugural Moto3 world title at the Sepang track this afternoon after he emerged victorious in a thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix.
With closest title rival Maverick Vinales sitting at home in Spain having quit his Avintia Blusens squad on the eve of this weekend’s race, the title was pretty much a formality for the German rider.
The only other rider in with a mathematical chance of winning the title was Spaniard Luis Salom, but he could only finish the 18-lap race in fourth place.
Cortese though clearly wanted to clinch the championship in style and rather than settle for a safe podium to secure the crown, he engaged in a fantastic battle with compatriot Jonas Folger and home crowd favourite Zulfahmi Khairuddin.
With a huge Sepang crowd roaring on Khairuddin in his attempt to create history by becoming Malaysia’s first ever Grand Prix winner, Cortese snatched a dramatic victory at the final corner.
He took the chequered flag by just 0.028s from Khairuddin, who still got a rapturous reception as Malaysia’s first-ever world championship rostrum finisher.
Danny Kent, who claimed a stunning debut victory in Japan last weekend, was never in the hunt to repeat that success and he finished in sixth having been as high fourth at two-thirds distance.
John McPhee finished in 22nd, having finished less than a second behind Jerez winner Ramano Fenati.
Danny Webb, who had to start the race from pit lane after going over his allocation of eight engines for the season, retired while running outside the top 25.