Jorge Martin crowned world champion with Malaysia win
Jorge Martin was crowned 2018 Moto3 World Champion after storming to victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix, as title rival Marco Bezzecchi dropped to fifth late on.
The Spaniard held a 12-point lead coming to Sepang after Bezzecchi was wiped out of the Phillip Island race last weekend, and recovered from a steady start to dominate the latter stages of the 17-lap contest.
Martin got the initial launch off the line, but Bezzecchi used the power of his Prustel GP KTM to out-drag the Gresini man into the first turn.
The championship leader lost further ground over the next handful of laps, dropping as low as eighth at one stage, though soon had Bezzecchi back in sight when the Italian was forced wide out of the lead by KTM stablemate Darryn Binder on the Ajo machine at Turn 1 on lap four.
Bezzecchi survived slight contact with third-placed Tony Arbolino on the run to Turn 7 before taking the position from the Marinelli Snipers rider, while Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Binder traded the lead.
By lap seven, Bezzecchi regained the lead from Binder at Turn 7, while Martin trailed Gresini teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio down in ninth.
Martin dug deep on lap eight and briefly snatched the lead with a daring raid at the final turn, though Bezzecchi returned the favour at the end of the following tour.
The title contenders swapped the lead again at the start of lap 10, making contact in the process, with Bezzecchi hitting the front once more on the next lap as Martin dropped several spots. Aron Canet [EG 0,0 Honda] had moved ahead of the pair on lap 10, but crashed at the start of the 11th tour.
Martin found himself back in the lead with five laps remaining and began to break away by eight tenths from Dalla Porta as Bezzecchi came under threat from Tatsuki Suzuki [SIC58] for fourth.
Entering the final two laps, Martin had opened up an unassailable lead of over two seconds to ease to his seventh win of the season.
Unbeknownst to him, Bezzecchi dropped out of the top four needed to keep his title hopes alive, the Italian unable to advance on fifth at the chequered flag to see Martin become the world champion.
Dalla Porta held onto second ahead of Leopard teammate Enea Bastianini completed the rostrum, with Albert Arenas and Bezzecchi rounding out the top five.
Di Giannantonio's outside title hopes faded late on when Martin darted into the lead, the sister Gresini rider sixth at the flag from Binder, Arbolino, Suzuki and Niccolo Antonelli.
The points were completed by Marcos Ramirez [Bester Capital Dubai], Team Asia's Kaito Toba, Avintia rider Vicente Perez, Toba's teammate Nakarin Athiratphuvapat and Kazuki Masaki [RBA].
Pit-lane starter Adam Norrodin stormed from a pit-lane start to join the lead group in the latter stages, but crashed at the final corner with three laps remaining.
Sky VR46 stand-in Celestino Vietti crashed early on while battling for second, with teammate Dennis Foggia colliding with John McPhee [CIP] and Alonso Lopez at Turn 9 on lap seven.