Moto 3 rookie Khairul Pawi made history Sunday in emphatic fashion when he became the first Malaysian ever to win a Grand Prix race. And it wasn't simply a maiden win for the 17-year-old at Argentina's Termas de Rio Honda circuit; It was a dominant performance in mixed conditions that concluded with the young rider taking a 26-second margin by the race's end.
Jorge Navarro seized second in the race after a final-corner high-side by Adam Norrodin (who pushed his wreck bike across the finish to take eleventh). Brad Binder, who appeared to have just won a fierce battle for fourth, climbed into the final podium spot after the Norrodin crash. Andrea Locatelli settled for fourth after a race-long battle with Binder, Joan Mir (5th) and Hiroki Ono (6th).
John McPhee climbed from 28th in qualifying to take seventh in the contest, eight seconds ahead of Jorge Martin (8th). Jakub Kornfeil (9th) finished just in front of Niccolo Antonelli, the race-winner in Qatar.
The race began with a gamble by Livio Loi. On the grid and facing a damp track, he was the only rider who elected to go with full wet tires. Every other rider – Pawi included – chose full slicks.
But at the start of the declared wet race, it wasn’t just Loi who broke to the front; Pawi -- on full slicks -- beat him to the lead and almost immediately began to open a gap on the tentative Moto3 field. By the middle of the first lap, Pawi and Loi had a full two seconds on the field. Heading into lap three, the pair had opened the gap to six seconds.
The Belgian rider could not match Pawi’s pace. And with the racing line drying, time was running out for Loi.
Pawi, the rookie, never looked back.
With 19 laps top go, Pawi began to disappear at the front, running laps nearly two seconds faster than any other rider on the circuit. Loi, with the drying line overheating his tires, began to lose pace and was closely followed by Norrodin, Locatelli, Martin, Ono and Aron Canet.
Loi continued to drop through the field, eventually finishing 16th and out of the points, his team’s tire gamble not paying off.
With 10 laps to go. Binder had climbed into fourth, behind Norrodin, Navarro and leader Pawi who had built to a 20-second lead by this point and still was running among the fastest laps in the race.
By the final lap, with his pit crew frantically urging him to slow down, Pawi had built a 26-second lead on the field. Norrodin, who had been closely marking Narvarro for much of the race, made his move for second. And for half a lap, it appeared it was going to be a pair of 17-year-old Malaysian riders on the top two spots.
Then, under pressure from Navarro on the final corner, Turn 14, Norrodin drifted slightly wide and under throttle caught a wet patch. The bike highsided and dumped the teenager to the pavement, opening the door to second place for Navarro and the podium for Binder.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Bike||Time / Diff.|
|1||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Honda||41'35.452|
|25||4||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||+1'31.975|
|30||40||Darryn BINDER||Mahindra||1 Lap|
|31||77||Lorenzo PETRARCA||Mahindra||1 Lap|
|32||3||Fabio SPIRANELLI||Mahindra||1 Lap|
|44||Aron CANET||Honda||3 Laps|