SEPANG, Oct 29 — Italian rider Franco Morbidelli clinched his maiden Moto2 world championship title after a podium finish, coming in at third place at the 2017 Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) at the Sepang International Circuit here today.
The 22-year-old from the EG 0,0 Marc VDS team secured the title even before the flag off, when closest title challenger Thomas Luthi of CarXpert Interwetten team was declared unfit for the race in the morning, due an ankle fracture after a crash in the qualifying round yesterday.
Morbidelli becomes the first Italian to win the Moto2 title and first in the intermediate category since Marco Simoncelli in 2008, after accumulating 288 points with eight wins from 17 rounds this season, Luthi stands in second with 243 points.
“I will definitely remember this day, I am very happy…It is a like dream come true for me. When they said I am the champion I did not feel it, I only felt as a champion after the race.
“I feel very sorry for Thomas, it would have been great if I won the championship after racing with him today, but this is motorsports, anything can happen. I was pushing for second place, but in the last lap, I slowed down and enjoyed the ride to become the champion,” he said during the press conference here, today.
Morbidelli, who started from pole position, finished third in 40 minutes and 35.833 seconds, 6.878s behind winner Miguel Oliveira from Red Bull KTM Ajo after 19 laps, equalling to 110.86km.
Oliveira’s teammate Brad Binder of South Africa finished second in 40:31.342s.
Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin from Petronas Raceline Malaysia received loud cheers from the local fans for a sixth place finish in 40:52.365s, despite starteing at 11th grid, while compatriot Khairul Idam Pawi from Idemitsu Honda Team Asia crashed out in the first lap.
With the feat, the 23-year-old Hafizh moved up to 11th place in the championship with 96 points before the final round at the Valencia on Nov 12. — Bernama