By Lisa Lewis

After qualifying in tenth, a strong start to the Malaysian Moto2 Grand Prix was always going to be important to Scott Redding in his title battle with his Pol Espargaro.

That's exactly what the Marc VDS rider delivered, reaching fourth and in the mix with the race leaders...

Related Articles

... But then a massive accident triggered by Axel Pons forced a restart and this time Redding was not to have luck on his side.

The shortened twelve-lap race started from the original grid positions. This time in the first corner Frenchman Johann Zarco appeared to catch the Forward Racing bike of Alex De Angelis, which caused a crash between the San Marino rider and a charging Xavier Simeon - right in front of Redding.

Though the Briton was lucky not to be involved - an overtake just before had moved him out of the path of the crash - it left him down in tenth place, while Espargaro maintained his grid position of third.

From Redding's point of view that was the moment he knew his race was in trouble:

"Just as I started to tip in to turn one at the restart I saw someone coming through, trying to win the race in the first corner, so I put the anchors on as Simeon wiped out himself and De Angelis in front of me. That was it for me, because to run the same pace as the front-runners on the straights I needed to be with them, like in the first race, not chasing to catch up like at the restart".

Tuenti HP 40 rider Espargaro also acknowledged that the race restart had lead to a change of fortune in his favour: "I have not gone well at the beginning [of races] with new tyres and the tank full. The stop of the race has perhaps helped me".

As team-mate Tito Rabat went on to dominate proceedings, as he had done in all sessions across the Sepang weekend, Espargaro rallied to pass Tom Luthi on the final lap, cutting further into Redding's championship points lead.

Espargaro had made big changes for qualifying for the second race in a row to be in a more competitive grid slot, and again, it worked for him:

"Yesterday we found something on the bike that has served us very well and that I hope will help us in the following circuits... we were very fast in the qualifying and this has helped me, gave me a bit of air and has given me some peace of mind".

Redding meanwhile gave away another point to Espargaro when he out-braked himself into the final corner, allowing Zarco enough room to sneak past and hold off any challenge down the straight to take sixth.

Straight line speed had been a concern for Redding the entire Malaysian race weekend:

"I did my best, but when you've got two straights back-to-back like this, it's really hard to do anything. No matter how hard I brake, or how much corner speed I carry, I can't make up the losses from the two straights".

The Malaysian race result leaves Redding with a slender nine point lead over Espargaro heading to the next round of the flyaways in Phillip Island, Australia next weekend.

With Rabat also still in touching distance of the title and in form after three podium finishes at the last three rounds, a win is the result Redding needs to get back in a powerful position as the championship draws to a close, a point not lost on the Briton.

"Now we need to go to Australia and win. At this point in the championship, with just three races remaining, it has to be all or nothing. We've lost points at the last three races, so now is the time to put it on the line and win again."

It is a circuit where Redding has traditionally done well with a previous best of second in 2010 to his credit.

Espargaro also travels to Phillip Island, which he describes as" a track which I love", with a strong record, the Spaniard having won there as recently as last season.