By Lisa Lewis
Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Sandro Cortese took his fourth Moto3 grand prix win of the season by just 0.028 at a sweltering Sepang.
In doing so, the German rider sealed his first world title by winning the inaugural Moto3 Championship. The final corners saw Cortese fight hard with home rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who gave everything in pursuit of a first victory.
Cortese was spurred on to win the race as he wanted to prove he would still push in Maverick Vinales' absence - and because race victory was the perfect way to claim the title.
Cortese added that his title win is “a dream come true”.
The German celebrated by having the number one sticker placed on the front of his bike and having a number eleven flag to wave, his racing number, which pulled apart to become a number one.
After being the leader as the race was coming to a close Khairuddin admitted to a mistake in the final corner, but still made history as his second place is the first podium for a Malaysian rider in any grand prix class.
After big celebrations at his home race and being mobbed by the marshals 'Fahmi' added that he was “really really happy” and “really pushing the limit” on the Air Asia Ajo KTM to try for the win in the hot and wet weather.
Completing the podium and making it an all KTM/Kalex KTM rostrum was Jonas Folger. He had been stalked by Cortese and Khairuddin for most of the race distance after doing all the hard work leading on his Mapfre Aspar and found it “so, so hot”.
The German mentioned he was “happy to be on the podium” after changes to his set up hadn't worked out as planned.
Luis Salom recovered well from his grid penalty, making his way up to the top five on the first lap for RW Racing GP but then struggled to keep pace at the front. He won a big battle for fourth and was the first to find Cortese and shake his hand to congratulate him on his Championship win.
Fifth place was filled by Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira for the Estrella Galicia team, his Suter Honda finishing ahead of Danny Kent's Red Bull KTM Ajo who was in the same battle but finished sixth. Oliveira's team-mate Alex Rins was just behind Kent finishing seventh.