Francesco Bagnaia has stormed to his second victory of the season at the Sepang International Circuit after the Italian held his nerve in what was a very controversial race. Jakub Kornfeil claimed second place for the home team Drive M7 SIC Racing Team with Dutch rookie Bo Bendsneyder taking his second podium of the year in third.
A mainly dry track greeted the riders as they took to the grid for the Moto3 race but with wet patches on the track and rain predicted, the riders were heading into the unknown. It was World Champion Brad Binder who got the holeshot into turn 1 from Bagnaia and Gabriel Rodrigo. The first lap however was marred with incidents, with eighth riders crashing out and many of them retiring immediately.
The first incident occurred at turn 2 seeing Andrea Migno colliding with RBA Racing’s Juanfran Guevara which resulted in both riders retiring from the race. Enea Bastianini replacement, Ayumu Sasaki also hit the deck and the 2016 Red Bull Rookies World Champion was out of the race. Further ahead in the lap, another major accident occurred as Jorge Martin lost control of his Mahindra and the Spaniard wiped out a chain of riders in the process which included Aron Canet, Philipp Oettl, Adam Norrodin and Nicolo Bulega.
The Drama didn’t stop there however, as Brad Binder, Joan Mir, Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Fabio Di Giannantonio all slid out simultaneously, which left Aspar Mahindra’s Bagnaia out in front with an enormous lead. Binder headed into the pit and was able to rejoin the race, although the South African was three laps behind by the time he rejoined the race. Ongetta-Rivacold teammates Niccolo Antonelli and Jules Danilo crashed out in separate incidents but in almost unison conditions.
While Bagnaia was up ahead in the distance, Jakub Kornfeil and Bo Bendsneyder were involved in a intense tangle for second with Frenchman Fabio Quartararo rapidly closing on the pair as they were losing time. Local hero Khairul Idham Pawi was giving the home fans something to shout about as the Honda Team Asia rider was locked in a battle for fifth with Andrea Locatelli, Maria Herrera and Marcos Ramirez.
The race came to an abrupt red-flag end as the rain returned and Herrera crashed heavily into final corner on lap fifteen, with two thirds of the race distance complete, the results would stand and the classification would be taken for the end of lap thirteen. A controversial end to an anti-climatic race.
Bagnaia therefore took his second ever career victory, producing a concentrated and nerve-free ride to show how much potential the young rider has. Kornfeil scored his first podium of the season in second after the Czech rider held off the ever improving Bendsneyder, who took third place and cemented himself as a real front runner for next season.
Behind, a disappointed Quartararo came home in a close fourth as the lost laps towards the end of the race really cost the Frenchman a chance of getting on the podium. Fifth went to his teammate Locatelli who overcame Ramirez, Rodrigo and Pawi in their acute battle, with the latter claiming eighth in his home Grand Prix. Livio Loi stayed on for a solid ninth with Darryn Binder continuing his form from Phillip Island with an impressive top ten.
The season finale now awaits, as the Circuit de Ricardo Tormo in Valencia gets ready for the Moto3 grid in two weeks time.