Sepang MotoGP: Toni Elias wins inaugural Moto2 title
Spaniard Toni Elias created history in Malaysia today when he won the inaugural Moto2 world title with three races to spare.
The Gresini Moriwaki rider finished fourth to wrap up the title after closest rival and compatriot Julian Simon had a disastrous 19-lap race in Sepang.
Elias knew that as long as he beat Aspar rider Simon or finished close behind him he would be crowned world champion having started the race with a commanding 81-points lead in the series.
The former MotoGP winner took the early lead from a fast starting Thomas Luthi on lap one before the Swiss rider swept by to take the advantage back on lap three.
Simon was doing his best to try and prolong the championship race when he moved into fourth place by Elias at the second corner on lap five.
Elias quickly retaliated and steered his Gresini machine back into fourth spot on lap six.
The title though was virtually assured just moments later when Simon made a big mistake under braking for turn nine. He almost ran into the back of Elias but somehow kept control as his Suter MMX machine bucked violently.
The reigning 125GP world champion dropped back down to ninth and his faint hopes of keeping the title race going to next weekend’s Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island were killed off on lap eight. Desperate to try and claw back lost places, he crashed at the first corner and he remounted to finish 21st.
Early leader Luthi crashed out of a second place at turn six just seconds after Simon’s fall.
Simon’s blunder gave Elias a relatively comfortable second half of the race although the Gresini rider got engaged in a thrilling fight for third place with Italian Andrea Iannone in the closing stages.
Elias though just missed out on a ninth podium to claim the crown, Iannone winning their close fight for the last podium place. Elias finished just 0.407s adrift Iannone and his success sparked jubilant scenes in the Gresini garage.
Italian veteran Roberto Rolfo won the race after he triumphed at the end of a close dice with Alex de Angelis.
Rolfo had only claimed one Moto2 podium prior to today when he finished third in the German Grand at the Sachsenring in mid-July.
He survived a determined attack from de Angelis to win by just 0.040s and claim his first Grand Prix victory since the Spanish 250GP in Jerez way back in 2004.
British rider Scott Redding was running in the top six throughout the race before he suffered from chronic heat exhaustion as temperatures hit an energy sapping 33 degrees.
The Marc VDS Racing rider, who also struggled but claimed a third place the extreme heat in Indianapolis in late August, was too exhausted to continue and he retired on lap 12 despite holding fifth position.
The 17-year-old needed to be helped from his bike and after taking on liquid; he needed further assessment in the Sepang circuit’s medical centre.