Maverick Vinales saw off the challenge of Mika Kallio at Sepang to claim his third win in four races but the day belonged to Esteve Rabat who clinched the Moto2 world championship. Rabat, who had started from pole position and led early on, faded to third in the end but that was more than enough to wrap up his first world crown with a race to spare.
Needing just seventh place or better to take the title, Rabat flew out of the traps and looked to be cruising to another victory after opening up a one second lead within four laps. But Kallio had other ideas and roared back into contention, setting the fastest lap to slash his teammate’s lead in an instant, bringing Vinales along with him.
With Rabat struggling with an apparent tyre problem, Kallio wrestled the lead away shortly after half distance, diving up the inside of his teammate at turn one, but Vinales followed the Finn past just three corners later, ensuring Kallio would still have a fight on his hands in the closing stages. With five laps remaining, Maverick slipstreamed past on the start/finish straight and although Kallio won the battle on the brakes to stay ahead, the rookie blasted past again at turn four and this time, the move would stick until the end.
Rabat rode a lonely race after being dropped by the front two but his job was done with third place securing him the Moto2 world championship, an achievement the Spaniard would dedicate to his late mother during his post-race interview.
Johann Zarco came on strong in the closing stages to snatch fourth from Dominique Aegerter and Julian Simon while Sandro Cortese couldn’t match his sensational qualifying result, slipping to seventh by the finish. Thomas Luthi finished a disappointing eighth ahead of Jonas Folger and Marcel Schrotter while there was also disappointment for the British pair as Sam Lowes and Gino Rea crashed out. Rea was knocked off his AGT Suter at the very first corner and has broken bones in his right foot as a result.