Johann Zarco took his second Moto2 title with a win in the Malaysian Grand Prix, after his rivals faltered in mixed conditions.
A wet start to the race saw second row starter Jonas Folger taking the lead from Franco Morbidelli and polesitter Zarco. But Morbidelli wasted no time with Folger and went into the lead, with Zarco also making quick work of Folger and setting his sights on Morbidelli.
As the track started to dry up with sun shining, the top three stayed within touching distance of each other – and some 10 seconds clear of the rest - but the front trio didn’t remain for long.
After a few laps of trying, Zarco finally made a move stick on Morbidelli, which not only sealed the race win but also the 2016 title.
The French rider then extended the lead to 3.256s to take his sixth win of the season, and his first since the Austrian Grand Prix in mid-August. He also became the first French rider to claim more than one Grand Prix title.
Behind, Morbidelli fended off the pressure from Folger to finish second by a mere 0.433s, the Italian continuing his rich run of form with a fourth consecutive podium finish.
Much further back, with over 17.739s to third placed Folger, Lorenzo Baldassarri was a lonely fourth for the Swiss Forward team.
Meanwhile, in a three-way battle for fifth, Hafizh Syahrin was able to keep championship contender Thomas Luthi and Alex Marquez at bay.
Both Syahrin and Marquez made major inroads in the race, with the Malaysian making up nine places from 14th, while Marquez gained 14 places to claim seventh.
Also having a good race was Xavi Vierge, who grabbed eighth having started the race from 25th, as Luca Marini and Isaac Vinales completed the top 10.
Zarco gets emotional
After his win, Zarco celebrated in front of the crowd with a backflip alongside his similarly athletic teammate Tetsuta Nagashima. The emotional champion said: "It feels good. Difficult to not cry.
"In the wet I was not the fastest. But I could keep a good rhythm and when the track started to dry I feel much better so I could take my line and go at my pace and it was perfect to win the title.
"I want to say thank you to the team and everyone who supports me. I love my family, I love my family for the bike, and I want the best for them.
"I am so happy for this and it’s so, so nice to be a second-time champion," he added, as he burst into tears before the podium ceremony.
|8||Xavi Vierge||Tech 3||19||46'19.891||28.855|
|10||Isaac Viñales||Tech 3||19||46'21.005||29.969|
|11||Simone Corsi||Speed Up||19||46'21.902||30.866|
|15||Xavier Simeon||Speed Up||19||46'37.705||46.669|
|Alessandro Nocco||Kalex||12||30'26.404||7 laps|
|Robin Mulhauser||Kalex||5||12'42.967||14 laps|
|Axel Pons||Kalex||1||2'32.852||18 laps|
|Sam Lowes||Kalex||1||2'35.544||18 laps|