Alex Marquez took advantage of a frenetic last lap to claim a potentially decisive victory in the race for the Moto3 title at Motegi. The Spaniard picked up the pieces after Danny Kent and Jack Miller outbraked themselves two corners from home and, with victory, now has a 25 point lead over Miller with just three races to go.
The three championship contenders had contrasting fortunes with Alex Rins enduring a nightmare afternoon at the same circuit his 2013 title hopes were dealt a decisive blow. Starting from the third row, the Estrella Galicia rider was always running the risk of being caught up in some start line mayhem and when Jakub Kornfeil outbraked himself into turn one, Rins was forced off track and fell out of the top 20. At least he was luckier than Niklas Ajo who fell off his motorcycle altogether in the same incident.
Marquez had made a strong start to pull clear of the chaos and subsequently found himself in a seven-man leading group along with Miller, British pair Danny Kent and John McPhee, Efren Vazquez and Mahindra duo Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder. Seven would become six though eight laps from home after a horrendous highside at the penultimate corner eliminated Oliveira.
After falling to the back of the group, Kent showed superb composure and tactical awareness to climb into the top three on the penultimate lap, hot on the heels of the title rivals. The Husqvarna rider outbraked Marquez for second at turn eleven but the series leader responded into turn one as the last lap began. Danny’s response was instant and as they powered down the back straight for the final time, the Briton was locked onto the rear wheel of Miller’s KTM.
In scenes reminiscent of Kent’s maiden victory two years ago, the no.52 pulled to the inside for a late braking duel into turn eleven but on this occasion, both riders overshot the corner and third-placed Marquez was the grateful recipient of a dramatic victory. Vazquez and Binder also picked up the pieces to complete the podium with McPhee promoted to a career-best fourth while Miller and Kent fell to fifth and sixth respectively.
Romano Fenati produced another Sunday recovery ride to take seventh ahead of Enea Bastianini and Niccolo Antonelli with Alex Rins unable to climb higher than tenth despite a dogged fightback.