Bendsneyder third in chaotic race at Sepang

A largely dry track, high ambient temperatures and a full Moto3™ grid characterized the start of the race, before the drama began early and went on to claim almost half the field. There were high rates of attrition on Lap 1, with a first incident at Turn 2 seeing Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) losing control of his KTM and making contact with RBA Racing’s Juanfran Guevara to take both out of the race. Ayumu Sasaki, replacing injured Enea Bastianini at Gresini Racing Moto3, was another early casualty as the 2015 SAATC winner and 2016 Red Bull Rookies Champion retired. There was then a crash at Turn 6 on Lap 1, as Jorge Martin (Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra) caused a domino effect crash through the racing line on the corner, with Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), Tatsuki Suzuki (CIP-Unicom Starker), Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Philipp Oettl (Schedl Racing GP) caught up in the incident. The next drama saw the lead group suddenly shaken up at Turn 7 – after local hero Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) also fell at the corner – when World Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Joan Mir (Leopard Racing), Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Sky Racing Team) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) all slid out in incredible unison – leaving Bagnaia free at the front to build an incredible lead of over three seconds. Binder and Dalla Porta rejoined, but out of the points and lapped. Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) then crashed at the final corner, losing out on the chance to haul in absent Bastianini for P2 in the title, as an issue at the end of the back straight put paid to his chances at points – leaving the top six in the Championship again unable to score in the Moto3™ race, after a similar situation in Phillip Island one week earlier. Turn 9 then claimed two casualties as Ongetta-Rivacold teammates Niccolo Antonelli and Jules Danilo crashed out in separate but almost simultaneous incidents – but Antonelli was able to remount and remain in the points. At the front, Bagnaia was building his lead over four seconds with 12 laps to go, with Jakub Kornfeil, Bo Bendsneyder and RBA Racing’s Gabriel Rodrigo next on track in the second group. Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) found himself in space on the chase, with World Champion Binder coming back out to rejoin the race and then sharing the track with the Frenchman. The battle over sixth saw local hero Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia), Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing), Maria Herrera (MH6 Team) and Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) locked in battle, with Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV) in tenth but back from the group, fighting to catch up. With Binder back out after a trip through pitlane, it was the South African on the move despite being down the order in terms of position, as he passed Quartararo and Rodrigo to unlap himself at least once – his superior pace allowing him the chance – as Frenchman Quartararo started to reel in the podium places. Lapped Dalla Porta moved over to let the podium fight through, with Bendsneyder taking advantage to take Kornfeil for P2, as Binder did the same to allow Quartararo back past for the chance to continue his charge towards the podium. A crash for Maria Herrera at Turn 15 in an incident with Livio Loi then prefaced a Red Flag, and with well over two thirds of race distance completed, the results would stand – with the positions determined by standings on Lap 13 as the last full lap completed by the whole field; a dramatic end for a melodrama of a race. Bagnaia therefore took his second career victory by an incredible margin, free at the front in an impressive, concentrated ride, with Kornfeil taking P2 by virtue of his position on Lap 13, and rookie Bo Bendsneyder completing the podium. Quartararo was fourth as he lost the laps needed to reel in the podium, with teammate Locatelli further back but completing the top five. Marcos Ramirez took another impressive haul of points for Platinum Bay Real Estate in sixth, with Rodrigo, home hero Pawi and Loi in P7, P8 and P9 respectively, despite an apparent problem for the Belgian by Lap 15 when the flag came out. Darryn Binder was tenth in another impressive ride, after his P4 in Australia, complete a double top ten for the Platinum Bay Real Estate team.

Aki Ajo – Team Manager
“I haven’t got much to say about the Moto3 race, because I cannot understand why there were so many crashes; I think it has to be analysed. It was a shame that Brad [Binder] crashed when he was in the leading group. We should be happy that he is ok and has not suffered any injury. I am very happy with Bo [Bendsneyder] and his second podium because with each race he is showing that he is more mature. The whole team are doing a great job helping him, in all respects; he is also very strong mentally. Next year I am sure he will get great results.”

“I am very happy to finish the Malaysian Grand Prix with my second podium of the season. I was riding behind Jakub [Kornfeil] for a few laps and was able to pass him on the final laps. It’s a shame because in the end, due to the red flag, we went back to the previous lap for the final standings -where I was third. It’s a pity, but getting on the podium again -at a circuit where I had never ridden before- is something incredible. I want to thank the team for all the work they have done over the weekend. Now we want to finish the season in Valencia with another good result.”


Race results:



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