By Lisa Lewis
German Red Bull KTM rider Sandro Cortese beat Maverick Vinales by just 0.055s as the pair raced through backmarkers to the finish line at Estoril on Sunday, round three of the 2012 Moto3 World Championship.
Eleven seconds behind them, Luis Salom and Zulfahmi Khairuddin enjoyed a long battle for third with Salom taking the final podium place for RW Racing on the Kalex KTM.
Cortese had stalked the Blusens Avintia of Vinales from the race start, only making a break for the front with five laps to go. More lead changes followed, before Cortese powered past Vinales half way through the final lap.
Vinales hit out at Cortese after crossing the line, later stating that he felt Cortese's riding was “not polite” during the final part of the race. Cortese meanwhile credited his “unbelievable bike” claiming that his victory came as he didn't allow Vinales a slipstream.
Cortese now leads the Moto3 championship by two points after being on the podium for the third race in a row, it is also the first time he has converted his pole position into a win.
With overtaking happening all the way through the race order there was also a massive battle for third between Malaysian AirAsia KTM rider Khairuddin, who still recorded a best ever result of fourth despite losing a podium place to Salom on the final lap.
The experienced Efren Vazquez put on an improved performance to bring home his JHK T Shirt Laglisse FTR Honda in fifth, with Niccolo Antonelli showing why he was a pre-season hope in the Italian press with a strong sixth place.
Antonelli had an early battle in the race with Red Bull Ajo KTM rider Danny Kent, who eventually finished eighth after fighting back through the field after running off-track with Romano Fenati.
Ahead of him was Spaniard Alex Rins, who finished seventh for Estrella Galicia 0.0 on his Suter Honda. Alexis Masbou came home ninth on his Caretta Technology Honda while Czech rider Jakub Kornfeil completed the top ten.