Jorge Martin won the race and the Moto3 World Championship at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia after mid-race battle with championship contender Marco Bezzecchi. Martin, who has 11 pole positions with seven race wins on the years, finished the contest with 240 points, a title-clinching, 26-point lead with one race to go in the 2018 season. It was his final year to claim a Moto3 chapionship; the Spaniard heads to the Moto2 championship next year.
Bezzecchi, who got the holeshot and led the race off-and-on for much of the first 10 laps, needed to finish fourth or higher for the title to remain undecided into final round round in Valencia. But he was swamped by the charging pack on the final lap and finished fifth at the line. Lorenzo Dalla Porta grabbed second after a race-long battle with Bezzecchi. Enea Bastianini took third and in doing so, became the most succesful Moto3 rider in history. Albert Areas who spent the tight contest with the lead pack just beat Bezzecchi to the line for fourth.
Fabio DiGiannantonio, who before the contest also had distant, mathematical shot at the championship, finished sixth, his title dreams over when teammate Martin won. Daren Binder took seventh, three-tenths in front of Tony Arbolino (8th). Tatsuki Suzuki (9th) and Niccolo Antonelli rounded out the top 10.
Marco Bezzecchi had little choice but to go out fast. While he didn't need to win to keep the championship alive, he did need to finish high in the order and perhaps force Martin into a mistake. To that end, Bezzecchi got the holeshot into Turn 1 but with Martin right on his tail. Martin didn't seem to have the pace early and began to drop back in the pack, sinking to fourth by the end of the first lap.
And the early trouble continued for Martin. By the end of the next lap, the championship leader had fallen to eighth. At the front, Bezzecchi led but not for much longer. While the championship runner-up had the speed to get to the front, he didn't have the pace to break away. The two long straights at Sepang made that abundantly clear up until the end.
Binder drafted behind Bezzecchi and slingshotted his way to the lead. Bezecchi was dropped to fifth but quickly climbed back into fourth. It was a sequence that would repeat itself until the end of the race with the six leaders trading positions at the end of every straight. Bezecchi would claw his way to the front, only to get swamped by the following pack headed into either Turn 15 or Turn 1.
But with 10 laps to go, Martin found his pace and began ticking off some of the quickest laps of the race. He joined the lead group and swept into fifth. One lap later, he took the lead and almost immediately began to open a gap. Bezzecchi, however, was right on his heels. Aaron Canet slipstreamed the lead pair and swept briefly into the lead. Soon after, Canet crashed out at Turn 1.
With three laps remaining, Martin, who already had retaken the lead, began to open a gap. Bezzecchi made a desperate charge to stay with the race leader. With two laps to go, however, Martin had opened a two-second gap. Bezzecchi started the last lap in second place, good enough to keep his championship hopes alive. But the pack swapmed him mid lap. At the finish line his hopes of a fourth-place were dashed at the line by Arenas.
Martin became the first Red Bull Rookies Cup Champion to win a Moto 3 championship.
|1||88||Jorge MARTIN, Moto3 World Champion||Honda||38'34.799|
|2||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||+3.556|
|6||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||+4.106|
|44||Aron CANET||Honda||7 Laps|
|72||Alonso LOPEZ||Honda||11 Laps|
|17||John MCPHEE||KTM||11 Laps|
|10||Dennis FOGGIA||KTM||11 Laps|
|31||Celestino VIETTI||KTM||15 Laps|