Scott Redding came agonisingly close to maintaining his 100 per cent podium record in the British Grand Prix after he played a starring role in a thrilling Moto2 race at Silverstone today.
The Gloucestershire rider drastically improved his previous best Moto2 result to finish fourth in a pulsating 18-lap race at the Northamptonshire circuit.
Redding, who started from 12th place on the grid, lost five places on the opening lap but then produced a brilliant surge through the field to force his way into podium contention by lap eight.
He grabbed fourth from Alex Debon on lap eight at the fast Abbey Corner before the Spaniard quickly retaliated.
Redding immediately struck back though to take fourth back on lap nine.
That moved the 17-year-old into a classic scrap for the lead involving Jules Cluzel, Claudio Corti and Julian Simon.
The quartet though were quickly joined by a hard charging Thomas Luthi, who swept by Redding into fourth on lap 11 at Stowe Corner.
Redding was unable to follow the Swiss rider though his bid for a third successive podium on home soil was boosted when Corti crashed out of second place on the penultimate lap.
The Italian, who had claimed a brilliant pole position yesterday, lost the front end at the Vale chicane and eventually finished in 30th place.
That blunder promoted Redding to fourth but he couldn’t quite get close enough to the rear wheel of Simon’s Aspar Suter machine to attack.
And his bid to add to his 2008 125GP victory and third last year in the British GP were effectively ended when he had a big moment under hard acceleration exiting the Aintree Corner on the final lap.
Marc VDS Racing rider Redding had to settle for fourth though he was just 0.198s behind Simon and easily beat his previous best result of 11th in Mugello. It was only the third time this season that he’s finished in the top 20 and he moved into 13th place in the overall rankings, gaining nine places in the championship.
Luthi’s superb charge through the field ended in scant reward for the Moriwaki chassis rider.
He had reeled off a series of stunningly fast laps to force his way into contention and when he took the lead from Cluzel at Stowe Corner on lap 16, a maiden Moto2 win looked on the cards.
But he failed to stretch away and a crucial mistake at Vale chicane on the final lap let Cluzel back in and the Frenchman held onto claim the first win of his career.
Luthi said: “It was a great race. Before the middle of the race I felt I could catch the leading up and go faster. Going into the last lap I wasn’t sure where they were and I just pushed a little bit too hard into that chicane and lost the rear and that cost me the victory.”
It was a brilliant effort from Cluzel, who arrived at Silverstone having crashed out of second place in the last two races at Le Mans and Mugello.
Cluzel said: “I can’t describe how I feel now but it is incredible. I didn’t think I’d feel that good on the bike because I wasn’t so fast in the warm-up. This is my first victory and it is an unbelievable victory and I hope this is the first of many.”
Luthi’s second place though and second podium finish off 2010 moved saw him cut the gap on series leader Toni Elias to 22-points.
The Spaniard, who won in Jerez and Le Mans, was only 10th having been outside of the top ten at the halfway stage.
Japanese ride Shoya Tomizawa remains his closest challenge after he finished in sixth place and now trails Elias by 15-points after five races.
British wild card Kev Coghlan finished in a creditable 22nd spot after a big last-lap pile-up elevated him up the rankings.