Luis Salom moved into second place in the Moto3 World Championship after beating Sandro Cortese in a thrilling Aragon Grand Prix. Cortese moved another step towards clinching the title though with Maverick Vinales, his nearest challenger before the race, breaking down on the formation lap.
Vinales was set to start from sixth but coming around turn seven on the way to the grid, the Avintia Blusens FTR-Honda coasted to a halt. The 17 year old tried frantically to get the bike restarted with the aid of the marshalls but when the realisation set in that his race was over, Vinales dropped the bike to the floor before kicking it in disgust, smashing the windscreen.
Cortese stayed clear of any trouble and took the lead of the race six laps in from Zulfahmi Khairuddin but no fewer than twelve riders lurked in the freight train behind him. The man making the most progress up the order though was Alex Rins who’d risen from tenth on the grid to third at half distance, hot on the heels of Khairuddin’s KTM.
The reigning Spanish 125cc champion had been pulling off outbraking manoeuvres left, right and centre and on lap eleven, finally got the better of Khairuddin for second. By the time he came back onto the home straight, Rins was also lining up Cortese and took the lead for the first time at turn one.
The unpredictability continued with Danny Kent rising to challenge Rins, despite finding himself at the back of the leading group early on. The Briton was a beneficiary of Khairuddin’s fall down the field before the Malaysian fell off his bike altogether, and sneaked past Efren Vazquez for fourth on lap thirteen. At the start of the next lap, Kent then used KTM power to blast past Louis Rossi and Alex Rins, the only problem was that Cortese had the same machinery at his disposal and took the lead for himself.
Kent’s aggressive approach continued despite his teammate being the target and dived through into the lead at turn four. Instead of mounting a fightback, Cortese was under serious pressure with Vazquez and Salom all over him but the German could always rely on his superior straight-line speed to keep him in contention.
With two laps remaining, the list of winning candidates was down to five with Kent leading Salom, Cortese, pole starter Jonas Folger and Vazquez while Rossi had been slightly detached from the front five. Kent’s bid took a blow when Salom scythed past him into turn one and the loss of momentum allowed Cortese, Folger and Vazquez to follow through in the next few corners.
Salom led across the line with one to go but Cortese pulled off another slipstreaming move into turn one. The championship leader couldn’t put any daylight between himself and the Spaniard though and lost the lead back to him at turn twelve. With Folger also passing Sandro, his victory hopes had disappeared and Salom took it by a tenth of a second with Cortese outdragging his compatriot for second.
Kent fought his way past Vazquez for fourth on the last lap with Alex Rins and Louis Rossi sixth and seventh. Miguel Oliveira, Arthur Sissis and Niccolo Antonelli completed an incredibly close top ten, in fact just 3.7s separated Salom from Alessandro Tonucci in thirteenth. John McPhee rode hard for 22nd while Danny Webb’s Mahindra stayed reliable, albeit a minute off the lead in 25th.