Moto3: Emotional Martin wins epic title duel
Jorge Martin is the 2018 Moto3 World Champion, taking the title at Sepang after a stunning season. Seven wins, nine podiums and 11 poles saw Martin a frontrunner throughout the season, and the Spaniard weathered the ups and downs of a tense year of competition to come out on top against key rivals Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio.
Martin made his debut on the world stage in 2015 with Mapfre Mahindra, moving up after taking the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. He scored his first point in the season opener in Qatar and became a regular top 15 contender, ending his rookie year in 17th overall. The following season, the rider from Madrid took another step forward – including his first podium in the wet at Brno – but he also missed a couple of races through injury, therefore ending the season just one place further forward in 16th overall.
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2017 saw Martin cement his place at the front as he moved to Del Conca Gresini Moto3, beginning the year on the podium in third at Qatar. He took nine pole positions and eight further podiums that season – but it was a long wait for one to be a maiden win. The Spaniard wrapped that up in the season finale at Valencia; his first trip to the top step setting him up perfectly for an assault on the crown the following year and seeing him take fourth overall in the standings.
2018 began perfectly as Martin won in Qatar, but Argentina was a tougher race in tougher conditions and he could only manage P11. That was when the man who would push him the most this season – Marco Bezzechhi – took his first win, and a classic rivalry was born. Austin saw Martin back on the top step before two more difficult races and DNFs in Jerez and Le Mans, both seeing the Spaniard victim to serious bad luck at the hands of Aron Canet and Bezzecchi…
Mugello was a win before a zero in Catalunya, but Martin then took back-to-back wins in Assen and Germany to lead the standings once again. Then, however, disaster struck as the Spaniard broke his left wrist in FP1 at Brno. Operated on and forced to forfeit the round, it was an upset to the Spaniard’s charge.
Back on track in Austria, it was a weekend for Martin to clench his teeth and dig deep, which he did in stunning style to take an emotional podium. In Misano Bezzecchi then faltered and crashed, but Martin could only gain the 20 points for second. Aragon was Martin back on full power at the front for a home win, and the first of the flyaway races in Thailand gave him more of an advantage as Bezzecchi was crashed out and Martin took fourth despite some struggles with his recovery. Motegi then saw the pendulum swing again as Martin crashed in the leading group – and Bezzecchi closed back in with a win.
Phillip Island was yet more drama. This time Bezzecchi was back on the receiving end of the bad luck as he was hit by another rider, and Martin took some good points although he couldn’t take the win, coming home fourth. That was enough to give him his first match point next time out at Sepang, however, with Martin 12 points clear before the race in Malaysia – and 20 points clear of Di Giannantonio.
After another incredible race, Martin fought it out before pulling the pin to perfection and Bezzecchi was left to battle to try and keep his hopes alive. As Martin crossed the line first for another win, it all went down to the final corner but Bezzecchi couldn't quite make it through into that crucial fourth place - making Martin the 2018 Moto3 World Champion.