By Lisa Lewis
Pol Espargaro shrugged off Tom Luthi for his fifth win of the season - all having come from pole starts - in the Australian Moto2 Grand Prix at Phillip Island, as the sun arrived for the shortened 13-lap sprint.
With title leader Scott Redding absent after surgery on his fractured left radius from Saturday - missing his first race in four years - Espargaro also took the Championship lead by 16 points ahead of the Englishman. The Marc VDS rider is not projected to return until Valencia.
That means the Pons man only needs to make the podium next weekend in Motegi to lift the Moto2 crown.
Espargaro had also won at Phillip Island last year, when he dominated by 16 seconds. This time Tom Luthi took the challenge to the Spaniard, with a late mistake and no time to fight back leaving the Interwetten Paddock rider in second.
Fellow Suter rider Jordi Torres passed Alex De Angelis for the final podium spot in third for Aspar.
De Angelis also lost out to fellow Forward rider Simone Corsi in the battle to the line, leaving the Italian as the top Speed up rider in fourth, though it was De Angelis who managed to set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, with a time fast enough to have made the MotoGP grid.
Dominique Aegerter was the only rider to opt for softer option tyres, he finished sixth for his 31st successive points finish, equalling the second best run of all time by Andrea Dovizioso. He was only the second Kalex to cross the line after Espargaro in an unusually weak race for the constructors title champions.
Marc VDS' sole rider in Australia, Mika Kallio
finished in seventh ahead of Espargaro's Tuenti HP 40 team-mate Tito Rabat.
Rabat dropped from third to ninth after running wide with nine laps to go, leaving him little time for a comeback only gaining back one place for eighth.
Nico Terol took ninth while Ant West made the top ten for QMMF after making up an impressive nine places from 19th on the grid.
Sandro Cortese finished in eleventh for Dynavolt Intact GP ahead of Ricky Cardus who took the flag in twelfth.
The two remaining British riders in the field both scored points with Danny Kent in 13th for Tech3 just ahead of replacement rider at Arginano & Gines Gino Rea in 14th.
The final point went to Gresini rider Doni Tata Pradita. It is the Indonesian riders first Moto2 point and only the second point he has scored in his career, after also finishing 15th as a 250cc racer in 2008.
Jump starts were recorded for Marcel Schrotter, Taka Nakagami and Axel Pons. Pons had already crashed out by the time this was announced but still recorded a 24th place by finishing over a minute off the winning time of his team-mate.
Julian Simon was taken out on the second lap by Mattia Pasini,with Johann Zarco a faller on the third lap.
Louis Rossi, Alex Marinelarena and Xavier Simeon also failed to finish.
The race was cut from 25 to 13 laps due to tyre overheating fears on the new Phillip Island surface.
The Moto2 title battle continues next weekend in Motegi, Japan.