Maverick Vinales claimed victory in the final ever 125cc Grand Prix at Valencia but Nicolas Terol stole the headlines, with second place enough to clinch the 2011 championship. As it turned out, Terol didn't need to score a single point as title rival Johann Zarco saw his hopes disappear into the gravel trap early in the race.
Terol, defending a 20 point advantage was understandably cautious in the early stages, dropping a place to tenth after a near-collision with Jonas Folger but fortunately for him, Zarco had also lost ground and was well within his sights in sixth. The Frenchman had no option but to win the race and his hopes were quickly fading as Hector Faubel, teammate to Terol, hit the front halfway around lap two after reeling in polesitter Danny Webb, the Briton having made a sensational start.
The Mahindra gradually fell back with Folger moving up to second ahead of Cortese, Vinales and Zarco but the Frenchman's title hopes were already slipping away. Desperate to claw his way back towards the front, Zarco pushed too hard into turn 12 on the third lap, sliding into the gravel to the delight of the Aspar team and the despair of Avant-AirAsia-Ajo. Terol was now up to fifth and his pit board gave him the news he had been yearning forâ€¦ “5 KO”. Bike no.5 was out and the Spaniard was number one.
With the title in the bag, Terol broke free of the shackles and set off in pursuit of the leaders. Faubel's early move on Webb gave him a two second lead over Cortese and Vinales who were disputing second. Folger was still in touch in fourth but Terol was closing quickly, and took over fourth place on lap 10.
With light rain falling, the new champion was promoted to third on lap 12 as Cortese slid out at turn four. Vinales would prove a tougher nut to crack though and the 16 year old responded by going on the offensive, passing Faubel for the lead on lap 13, followed by Terol.
The lead changed again on lap 14 as Terol coolly dived up the inside of Vinales into turn two but the expected escape didn't come to pass. Instead, the Aspar Aprilia slid wide at turn one at the start of lap 18, releasing Vinales back into a lead he wouldn't relinquish, offering team sponsor Paris Hilton the chance to to stand on the podium as the representative of the winning constructor.
Terol eased his way back past Faubel on the penultimate lap and finally allowed the emotions to take over as he crossed the finish line, securing his place in history as the final ever champion in the 63 year history of the 125cc class.
On a difficult day for the Avant-AirAsia-Ajo squad, Efren Vazquez gave them something to smile about with fourth while Jonas Folger made it home in a lonely fifth. The battle for sixth came to a dramatic conclusion as Adrian Martin and Luis Salom clashed at the final corner. This should've promoted Danny Kent but the Briton also crashed out, letting Alberto Moncayo through while Salom remounted to take seventh. The final lap chaos promoted Niklas Ajo to eighth, his highest Grand Prix finish, with Luigi Morciano ninth and Louis Rossi tenth after starting from the front row.
John McPhee was another to benefit from the late mayhem and scored points for the second time this year in 14th. Danny Webb's early promise failed to yield points after a crash on lap 12 while Taylor Mackenzie and Harry Stafford also failed to make the finish.