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125: Vinales wins, Terol drama sends title to final round
23 October 2011
The last ever 125cc World Championship will be decided at the final round in Valencia after last-lap drama for Nico Terol meant the Spaniard missed his chance to wrap up the title at Sepang, in a race won by Maverick Vinales.
Terol began the penultimate round in Malaysia with a 25-point advantage over Johann Zarco and thus needed to finish ahead of the Frenchman to be crowned champion.
The 23-year-old Aspar Aprilia rider got a perfect start from pole, while Zarco - 15th on the grid after multiple problems in qualifying - was up to fifth by the end of lap one.
Zarco then worked his way steadily through the lead group, while Terol moved in the other direction - dropping to third behind Maverick Vinales and Sandro Cortese at the halfway mark of the 18 laps.
The title rivals crossed paths soon after when Zarco briefly overtook Terol. But Terol seemed to be spurred into action by the pass, fighting his way back into the lead of the five-man pack.
Then, on the penultimate lap, Terol suffered a near highside just as he was re-passed by Cortese. That also allowed rookie Vinales into second and the Paris Hilton Racing rider went on to claim his third victory of the season by 0.354sec from Cortese.
Terol had suffered several further slides after losing the lead, but his biggest moment came on the final lap when the eight-time 2011 race winner got sideways through the fast left hander behind the pit garages as he tried to stay ahead of Zarco.
Terol did well to hang on, but ran off track, allowing both Zarco and his own Aspar team-mate Faubel to move ahead of him before he rejoined.
Faubel gave chase to Terol, but couldn't stop the Ajo Derbi rider standing on the final step of the podium. Surprisingly perhaps, Faubel didn't surrender his fourth place to Terol, who will start the final round with a 20-point lead over Zarco.
That should still be more than enough to decide the title in Terol's favour, but there was concern for Spaniard after he pulled off on the slow down lap and lay on the ground. Terol returned to the pits in a medical car, suggesting he may have suffered some kind of injury in the near highside or had fallen victim to the suffocating heat.
The final round at Valencia takes place in two weeks' time. Race results:
1. Vinales (Aprilia) 18 laps
2. Cortese (Aprilia) +0.354s
3. Zarco (Derbi) +2.455s
4. Faubel (Aprilia) +2.921s
5. Terol (Aprilia) +10.049s
6. Folger (Aprilia) +17.964s
7. Khairuddin (Derbi) +38.708s
8. Kornfeil (Aprilia) +39.099s
9. Moncayo (Aprilia) +39.223s
10. Kent (Aprilia) +40.237s
13. Webb (Mahindra) +1m 7.907s
21. Mackenzie (Aprilia) +1m 33.250s
Stafford (Aprilia) DNF