Miguel Oliveira repetead the magnificent performance from Phillip Island and won the Moto2 race after leading from start to finish. Brad Binder completed the second straight KTM double, while Franco Morbidelli completed the podium and became the 2017 Moto2 World Champion.
Unfortunately, the championship equation was solved before the race start, as Thomas Luthi was declared unfit to start after a fracture of the ankle was revealed following his crash during the qualifying session. With an advantage of more than 25 points, Franco Morbidelli was sure that he would be crowned World Champion at the end of the race irrespective of his result in it.
Miguel Oliveira took the lead in Turn 1 after starting from P2 and started to put distance between him and the EG 0,0 Marc VDS riders slowly but surely. Francesco Bagnaia and Brad Binder were closely following the VDS duo, aspiring to the 2nd place.
A first incident occured when Takaaki Nakagami and Sandro Cortese slided out of the race. Some turns later, a multiple incident ended the race of Luca Marini, Axel Pons, Khairul Idham Pawi, Remy Gardner and local wildcard Ekky Patrama. Also, Alex Marquez crashed while in 2nd, throwing away his chances at the 3rd place in the championship. The Spaniard got up and rejoined the race, only to crash again in the following lap. This time it was game over.
As Oliveira was cruising to a new victory, Bagnaia lost the rhytm of Morbidelli and Binder and dropped out of the battle for the second place. Binder stayed close to Morbdelli, but he did not show any overtake intentions until the closing stages of the race.
With 5 laps to go, rain made its appearance and the red flag with red diagonals was brought out by the track marshalls. Brad Binder realised that this might be followed by a red flag if the conditions were to worsen, so he made his move on Morbidelli.
The championship leader did not fight back, settling on the last step of the podium till the end of the race.
Miguel Oliveira crossed the line in 1st place for the 2nd time in 2 weeks, with Brad Binder completing once again a superb Red Bull KTM Ajo double. Morbidelli finished 3rd and the party kicked-off in the pits, as the Brazilian-Italian is the new World Champion.
An interesting battle emerged for the 4th place, with Mattia Pasini walking away victorious after defeating Pecco Bagnaia. Fabio Quartaro was in charge of the 5th place for some time, but his pace dropped and he was overtaken by Pasini, who eventually also went past Bagnaia. Local hero Hafizh Syahrin took advantage of Quartararo s struggles and went past the Frenchman to clinch P6. Xavi Vierge offered another solid prestation, crossing the line in P8, ahead of former teammate Isaac Vinales and Tetsuta Nagashima, who locked out the top 10.
The difference in the championship standings between Morbidelli and Luthi was increased to 45 points (288-243) with only 25 up for grabs, so we have our new Moto2 World Champion. Miguel Oliveira secured the bronze medal, as he is now 26 points ahead of rival Alex Marquez (216-190). An all-Italian battle will emerge in Valencia for the 5th place, as the difference between Bagnaia and Pasini consists of only 13 points in the favour of the rookie (161-148).
Franco Morbidelli became the first Italian World Champion since Valentino Rossi, who won MotoGP World Championship in 2009. The last Italian World Champion in the intermmediate class was Marco Simoncelli, who was crowned 250cc World Champion in 2008. What is interesting is that all these 3 Italian riders were crowned World Champions at the Sepang Circuit.
photo credit – Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS