SEPANG (AFP) –
German KTM rider Sandro Cortese won the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang to be crowned the inaugural Moto3 world champion.
Cortese started from the front row and raced to the chequered flag in 40 minutes 54.123 seconds over the 18-lap race.
He beat Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who started on pole, on a KTM bike by only 0.028 seconds with the Malaysian rider finishing second.
German’s Jonas Folger, who led for much of the race, took third spot after starting from the front row. He was 0.247 seconds behind the winner on his Kalex KTM machine.
The win gave Cortese a 73-point lead over his nearest challenger, Luis Salom of Spain, and with only two races remaining offering a maximum of 50 points Cortese lifted the first Moto3 world title.
Cortese who started from the front row for the ninth successive race, remained calm in third spot for 17 laps and moved ahead of Zulfahmi in the final lap following team orders for the Malaysian to slow down.
“I still can’t believe I am the world champion,” he said.
“I did not race so much. I just wanted to finish ahead of Salom (his closest remaining challenger for the title) but when I saw an opportunity to win the race, I just pushed the bike. It is a dream come true,” he added.
The 22-year-old also became the first German rider to win the lightweight class world title since Dirk Raudies in 1993 and the first ever rider to take a road-racing world title for KTM.
Cortese will migrate to the Moto2 class for the 2013 season.
Zulfahmi, 21, became the first Malaysian to secure a podium finish in any class of grand prix racing.
Zulfahmi led in the last seven laps and said he followed team orders to drop to second spot to avoid a possible crash.
Maverick Vinales, who had a mathematical chance of securing the title, did not start the race amid reports that the 17-year-old Spaniard has quit his team.