Esteve Rabat kept his faint championship hopes alive with a dominant victory in a shortened Malaysian Grand Prix. Rabat led a Pons Tuenti 1-2 ahead of Pol Espargaro with Scott Redding a disappointing seventh, leaving him just nine points ahead of Espargaro and 28 clear of Rabat heading into the last three races.
The Grand Prix got off to a terrible start with five riders involved in a horrendous pile-up on the opening lap. Rounding turn fourteen, Axel Pons highsided his Kalex with the motorcycle sliding back into the path of oncoming traffic. Gino Rea weaved past the bike, missing it by inches, but Moto2 debutant Fadli Immammuddin was unable to avoid it with the violent impact sending the Indonesian somersaulting over his Motobi. With debris everywhere, fellow debutants Zaqhwan Zaidi and Decha Kraisart were also swept off their motorcycles along with Blusens Avintia’s Ezequiel Iturrioz. Miraculously, all five riders escaped injury but the lengthy clean-up operation saw the race reduced to twelve laps when it restarted half an hour later.
Rabat was never troubled from the moment he passed Espargaro at turn nine on the opening lap, responding to Pol’s faster start. The younger Spaniard instead had to focus on securing second place with Thomas Luthi piling on the pressure. The Interwetten rider charged up the inside into the final corner on lap four but Espargaro’s superior pace in the latter stages saw him claim second, passing Luthi at the start of the penultimate lap. Mika Kallio took fourth on the leading Marc VDS Kalex with Dominique Aegerter keeping up his points scoring streak with fifth.
Espargaro’s four point boost in the closing stages brought Scott Redding’s difficulties into even sharper focus. The Briton climbed up to sixth just after half distance but Johann Zarco pushed past at the final corner to leave him seventh, triggering celebratory scenes from Aleix Espargaro on the Pons timing stand.
Takaaki Nakagami had a quiet race by his standards in eighth ahead of Jordi Torres and Julian Simon but Danny Kent had a tremendous afternoon, matching his best result in Moto2 with twelfth.