Oliveira Wins in Australia to Keep Title Race Alive

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Miguel Oliveira took a superbly judged victory to keep the Moto3 championship race alive on a day of drama at Phillip Island. Danny Kent began the race knowing a top two finish would secure the title but collisions with Francesco Bagnaia and Niccolo Antonelli ultimately led to a dramatic highside which put the celebrations on hold.

The stage was already set for fireworks with Enea Bastianini lining up on the ninth row of the grid but action was already unfolding further up the order with polesitter John McPhee chasing a first Grand Prix victory. The Scotsman fought at the sharp end throughout the early laps but sadly for Saxoprint-RTG, a highside at Siberia put paid to his victory chances with impressive debutant Joan Mir taken out in the process.

Kent had made steady progress from the third row of the grid and was up to second on lap nine but an overambitious move on the brakes from Francesco Bagnaia at Honda hairpin changed everything. The Mapfre Mahindra rider piled into the rear of Kent’s Leopard Honda, eliminating himself from the Grand Prix and demoting Kent to sixteenth.

Clearly fired up, the championship leader made rapid progress back through the field and was in the thick of a fight for sixth with title rival Enea Bastianini when it all went wrong at Stoner corner. Carrying terrific corner speed, Danny swept around the outside of Niccolo Antonelli but couldn’t avoid contact with the Italian’s front wheel, sending the Briton skywards. The accident took both out of the race while Bastianini was also skittled out, ending his title dream on the spot.

The championship wasn’t decided yet though with Oliveira chasing a top-three finish to keep his hopes alive and once again, the Portuguese rider timed his late attack perfectly, overtaking Jakub Kornfeil at the start of the final lap before closing out a fourth win of 2016. Efren Vazquez salvaged second for Leopard while Brad Binder outdragged Jorge Navarro and Kornfeil on the run to the line to finish third.

Romano Fenati was sixth despite figuring in the leading group throughout while Philipp Oettl took seventh from Isaac Vinales and Alexis Masbou. Home favourite Remy Gardner completed the top ten, setting a new career best.



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