By Lisa Lewis
Scott Redding halted Pol Espargaro's three race erosion of his Moto2 title lead with a third place finish at Indianapolis on Sunday.
With Espargaro one place behind, the Briton has extended his lead back up to 26 points - enough to ensure that Redding will still be heading the standings at his home Silverstone round, regardless of what happens next weekend at Brno.
As has often been the case this season, tyre endurance proved key in Sunday's race.
Espargaro's team-mate and race winner Tito Rabat clearly had the balance right on his Pons Kalex machine as he sliced through the pack.
As Rabat cleared off into the distance ahead of Takaaki Nakagami, who also referred to tyre and chatter issues after the race, the two main title protagonists were left to fight it out for the final podium place.
“The battle at the end with Pol was exciting,” recalled Redding. “It was pretty tight in those first couple of corners on lap 23 but I never touched him and sometimes you have to be aggressive like that. I'm just happy to have beaten him because it is vitally important for the Championship.”
Marc VDS team manager Michael Bartholemy agreed: “It was very important to finish in front of Espargaro for the first time in four races and I think Scott showed just how much he wants to win this title with some really hard moves. Unfortunately, once again, he was handicapped by the tyres and this is not the first time, so I am hoping to see some improvements coming quickly.”
Redding knew the rear tyre would be borderline and approached the race accordingly.
"I felt good at the start, but I didn't want to lead because I knew I needed to save the tyres. I could see Nakagami was using a lot of his rear tyre but after about seven laps I suddenly starting having a vibration from the rear and I was losing time in the first and last corner.
“After that it was all about surviving to the finish and not trying to stress the tyres too much. But when Rabat came by he was gone in a few corners, so it was obvious I had some more tyre issues and that's a bit disappointing.”
But by the closing stages it was Espargaro who was most 'tyred'. The usually smiling Spaniard looked decidedly glum after the race, having dropped from second to fourth. Not for the first time this season, the 2014 Yamaha Tech 3 rider placed the blame squarely on his tyres.