SALOM PULLS OFF LAST CORNER VICTORY AT MOTO3 GRAND PRIX OF MALAYSIA!
Luis Salom of the Red Bull KTM Ajo factory team on Sunday pulled off a victory in Malaysia that was one of the hardest fought and closest of the current season to extend his lead in the World Championship points.
The Spanish rider, whose win gives him seven for the current season acknowledged that it had been a tough fight after he sealed the race in the final corner of the sweeping Sepang circuit. “This was incredible. I think it was the toughest race this year but the final lap was really beautiful,” Salom said after the race.
Luis Salom started on pole but the 18-lap race soon evolved into an encounter with the usual suspects who are rivals for the championship title – the three other lead Spanish riders Alex Rins, Alex Marquez and Maverick Viñales all on the KTM RC250 R Moto3 racing machines. But when it came to the crunch it was Salom’s finely tuned race craft and his brave late braking in the final corner that gave him the win. All 14 rounds in the 2013 season have been won on KTM machines by Salom, Rins or Viñales.
Viñales, the only current Moto3 rider to have won in Sepang (in 2011) shot from ninth on the grid at the start and was a major player during the race only to lose out in the final corners to finish fifth behind Miguel Oliveira of Portugal and Marquez. While 14 points now separate Salom and Rins, Vinales, a pre-season favorite for the title, now has a deficit of 26 points to the leader and only three races remaining to get back in the action.
Rins had much to gain as he went into the final corner. He fought hard and fast for what might have been his third consecutive victory this season. Rins: “The race was so difficult. I was first in the last lap but finally he (Salom) passed me in the last corner.” Had he finished in front of Salom he would have tied with the championship leader in the points as the competition goes down to the wire. The final three rounds will be in in Australia, Japan and Valencia.
It was a disappointing weekend for Salom’s KTM factory teammate and home-town favorite Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who last year thrilled his fans by taking his first podium here in Sepang. Khairuddin fractured his wrist in the last round in Aragon, Spain and was initially declared fit to race. He rode in the qualifying but on race day he was declared unfit and was a non-starter. Arthur Sissis, the third rider in the Red Bull KTM Ajo factory team finished back in 19th place.
Results Moto3 Sepang
1. Luis Salom (E), KTM, 40:42.441 min
2. Alex Rins (E), KTM, +0.069 sec
3. Miguel Oliveira (P), Mahindra, +0.408
4. Alex Marquez (E), KTM, +0.782
5. Maverick Viñales (E), KTM, +1.055
6. Jack Miller (AUS), Honda, +1.077
7. Alexis Masbou (F), Honda, +5.016
8. Jonas Folger (D), KALEX-KTM, +6.277
9. Romano Fenati (I), Honda, +6.952
10. Philipp Oettl (D), KALEX-KTM, +10.962
12. Niklas Ajo (FIN), KTM, +21.012
13. Jakub Kornfeil (CZ), KALEX-KTM, +29.443
15. Ana Carrasco (E), KTM, +31.579
18. Livio Loi (B), KALEX-KTM, +32.469
19. Arthur Sissis (AUS), KTM, +34.809
DNF Eric Granado (BR), KTM
DNF Toni Finsterbusch (D), KALEX-KTM
DNF Jasper Iwema (NL), KALEX-KTM
DNF Aizat Malik (MAL), KTM
DNF Hafiq Asmi (MAL), KTM
DNS Zulfahmi Khairuddin (MAL), KTM (declared unfit before race – fractured wrist in last round at Aragon)
Standings Moto3 after 14 of 17 rounds
1. Salom, 284 points
2. Rins, 270
3. Viñales, 258
4. Marquez, 162
5. Folger, 137
6. Oliveira, 131
7. Miller, 89
8. Masbou, 78
9. Efren Vazquez (E), Mahindra, 62
10. Khairuddin, 60
11. Kornfeil, 59
12. Sissis, 59
15. Ajo, 47
18. Öttl, 24
21. Iwema, 8
22. Granado, 7
25. Loi, 4
27. Carrasco, 1
Manufatures Standings Moto3 after 14 of17 rounds
1. KTM, 350 points
2. KALEX-KTM, 145
3. Mahindra, 140