The Moto3 class has a new World Champion in Martin, who scored an awesome victory to secure the title by 26 points with one race remaining, at the top of an all-Honda podium. Honda also wins this year’s Moto3 World Championship, its 18th in the Junior class.
Twenty-year-old Martin and his NSF250RW have been the class act of the 2018 season, taking 11 pole positions and seven race victories so far. Only some bad luck and an injury prevented Martin from wrapping up the championship sooner.
Today’s race was a thrilling encounter. Martin started from pole position but went backward to tenth in the early laps, wary of a few damp patches around the track, while main title rival Marco Bezzecchi fought for the lead, aiming to keep the championship alive until the final race at Valencia, Spain.
At half-distance the lead group was tightly packed, as usual in Moto3, with the top ten covered by just 1.3 seconds, the lead changing between several different riders at every other corner. At one point Martin and Bezzecchi touched at the first corner as they contest first position. However, Martin was merely biding his time. He took the lead for the final time at the start of the 13th lap and then he showed his true speed, quickly escaping from the pack.
He rode his fastest lap 14 the next lap to lead by more than half a second. By the end of the next lap he was two seconds ahead and at the chequered flag he was 3.556 seconds ahead of Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW), who just beat team-mate Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) to complete a Honda podium monopoly. With one race remaining, Honda NSF250RW fill five of the top six places in the championship.
Martin’s Sepang success follows victories in Qatar, the Americas, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Aragon.
Dalla Porta enjoyed battling for his second victory of the year, following his maiden success in the San Marino GP. The 21-year-old Italian started from 14th on the grid, so he was happy enough with second. Bastianini also had to claw his way through the pack, coming through from 16th place on the first lap to claim the final podium position on the final lap, 0.201 seconds behind Dalla Porta.
Bezzecchi crossed the line in sixth, just one place short of keeping alive a very slim chance of bettering Martin for the title at the last race. Right behind him at the finish was 20-year-old Italian Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), who was the third rider in with an outside chance of the title, before his team-mate put the matter beyond doubt today. Di Giannantonio is now nine points behind Bezzecchi, so he does have a chance of taking the runner-up position in the championship later this month.
Honda’s last riders in the top ten today were front-row-starter Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW), 21-year-old Chiba rider Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW), who finished 4.715 seconds off the win and less than a second off the podium.
Local hero Adam Norrodin (Malaysian Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) rode an amazing race but ended the day without reward. The 20-year-old Malaysian started the race from pit lane, following a rules infringement in practice, and made a miraculous charge through the pack to join the lead group in seventh place, only to slide off. The 20-year-old from Johor Bahru bravely remounted to finish last.
The 70th season of motorcycle Grand Prix season concludes at Valencia on November 18.