By Lisa Lewis

The Moto3 battle at the Malaysian Grand Prix was a hotly-contested affair with Luis Salom touching Alex Rins as he pushed past for the inside line at the final, vital turn, leaving him able to outrun his fellow countryman to the line.

With six riders in contention for the win on the final lap The Red Bull rider described his seventh victory of the season as "The toughest race I have this year".

Estrella Galicia rider Rins was out-thought in a battle of wits and despite late braking his way to the front at the start of the opening lap, found himself only capable of second as the chequered flag waved. It still marked a continued his strong showing for Rins which has pushed him into contention for the title in the second half of the season.

It is the third time this season that Salom has translated a pole start into a win having also managed the same feat in Qatar and Catalunya.

Salom's racecraft means he extends his championship lead to 14 points over Rins, Vinales in now a distant 26 points adrift.

Not to be outdone in terms of excitement, after a shocking start dropped Portuguese rider Miguel Oilveira found himself near the back of the field. The Mahindra man staged a courageous fightback to catch the leaders after just a handful of laps and take the final spot on the podium in the dash to the line.

This gives Mahindra their first podium in Grand Prix racing. Oliveira is also the first non-KTM powered podium finisher this year.

The third place is also Oliveira's first rostrum finish this season and the third of his career. He is only the second man not to come from Spain to finish on the podium this year, the other being Germany's Jonas Folger who took third in Jerez and Brno.

Alex Marquez found himself off the podium for the first time after finishing third in the last three races but was still an impressive fourth.

Maverick Vinales saw his title hopes take another blow as the lead pack splintered in two but was pulled back into contention as the leaders battle saw them lose pace.

While both of the Team Calvo riders main rivals, Rins and Salom took podium finishes, he almost collided with Jack Miller to cross the line in fifth.

Miller took sixth, but look frustrated and angry after the near miss aboard his Caretta Technology machine, but was the highest placed Honda rider.

After briefly leading in the early stages Alexis Masbou struggled to hold on to the back of the leading group and faded to seventh for Ongetta-Rivacold.

Eighth went to Aspars Jonas Folger ahead of San Carlo Team Italia's Romano Fenati in ninth. Philipp Oettl continues to impress in the closing races and finished ninth after his best of sixth in Aragon.

Brad Binder sliced his was through the pack for an eleventh place finish after starting down in 23rd on the grid.

Niklas Ajo finished in 12th for Avant Tecno ahead of Jakub Kornfeil in 13th and Isaac Vinales in 14th.

Ana Carrasco scored her first ever world champioship points in 15th, the first points for a female rider in the Moto3 class.

There were early crashes for Jasper Iwema and Alan Techer, who visited the medical centre with knee pain, and Malaysian wild-cards Azmi and Malik.

Eric Granado was taken out by Arthur Sissis shortly before Toni Finsterbusch found himself in the gravel again.

Mahindra rider Efren Vazquez managed to rejoin when he came off the track only to retire into the pits. Niccolo Antonelli also fell in a crash filled race.

Zulfahmi Khairuddin was declared unfit for his home race after complications with his wrist injury left him in pain when just putting on his gloves, he had titanium screws fitted after Aragon to attempt to race in Sepang.

The Moto3 title battle resumes next weekend when the paddock moves on to Phillip Island for the Australian Grand Prix.


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