Luca Marini won his first-ever Moto2 race in dominant fashion and Franceso Bagnaia's seized third-place to clinch the Moto2 World Championship Sunday. Race runner-up Miguel Oliveira's championship bid ended with Bagnaia's podium at the Sepang circuit.
The Marini win coupled with the Bagnaia championship coincidentally made for good afternoon (at least initially) for MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi; Marini is his half brother and both he and Bagnaia are teammates in Rossi's Moto2 SKY Racing Team VR46 racing team and are graduates of his riders' academy.
Mattia Pasini, who is fighting for a contract next year, grabbed fourth in front of Fabio Quartararo (5th).
Lorenzo Baldassarri climbed from his 13th place on the grid to finish sixth, holding off pole-sitter Alex Marquez (7th). Marquez, who set the Sepang lap record when he took pole position Saturday couldn't match his previous speed in the race. The winner at Philip Island, Brad Binder (8th), didn't challenge for the win in Sepang. Marcel Schrotter (9th) and rookie Joan Mir completed the top 10.
Oliveira's sizeable gap to Bagnaia -- 36 points at the start of the contest -- made an outright win nearly a necessity. After a scrum at the first corner that saw Quartararo run wide and Marini slip to the front, Oliveira slid into second. But right on his rear wheel was Bagnaia who swept into second from sixth on the grid. Bagnaia made quick work of his rival to take second a lap later.
Marini opened a one-second gap to second place where Bagnaia had settled comfortably. He had no need to challenge his teammate; a top-three finish would seal the championship for the Italian points leader. In the middle of the pack, Marquez began to push his way through, climbing to fifth after getting swamped at the start.
But with 10 laps to go, Oliveira made his move to challenge Bagnaia, passing his rival for second. But he could make no impression on Marini who was riding the best race of his career. And Oliveira could do nothing about the man behind him. Bagnaia could hold that position to the end and take the championship.
Marini and Oliveira began to open a gap to Bagnaia. But with seven laps remaining, Bagnaia began to set some of the fastest laps of the race, keeping his third position well in hand. The top three riders would not change for the remainder of the contest with the VR46 riders achiveiving three firsts: Marini a maiden win; Bagnaia's first championship and the first championship for the team founded by Rossi.
|3||42||Francesco BAGNAIA, Moto2 World Champion||Kalex||+3.020|
|5||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||Speed Up||+5.250|
|17||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||+28.802|
|20||57||Edgar PONS||Speed Up||+31.069|
|23||30||Dimas EKKY PRATAMA||Tech 3||+57.507|
|26||50||Rafid Topan SUCIPTO||Suter||+2'04.066|
|40||Augusto FERNANDEZ||Kalex||10 Laps|
|66||Niki TUULI||Kalex||11 Laps|
|45||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA||Kalex||11 Laps|
|87||Remy GARDNER||Tech 3||13 Laps|
|18||Xavi CARDELUS||Kalex||13 Laps|
|27||Iker LECUONA||KTM||16 Laps|