By Lisa Lewis
Alex Marquez fought Maverick Vinales all the way to the line to take his first Moto3 victory in a dramatic Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.
Vinales led for a large portion of the race before being pushed to the limit by the Estrella Galicia rider. Vinales attempted to slipstream Marquez across the line but had to settle for second, leaving the Team Calvo still without a race win since Le Mans.
However with title rivals Luis Salom and Alex Rins both falling, Vinales is firmly back in the title hunt heading to the Valencia finale.
Salom's race turned into a disaster when he was hit by Isaac Vinales who got out of shape on the opening lap, flying over and collecting the Mallorcan. The riders are to present themselves to Race Direction for further investigation.
While pushing to get back into the point scoring positions, the Red Bull KTM rider then had a highside, putting him out of the race for good.
Rins recovered after a busy opening lap, then an altercation with team-mate Marquez - which saw a lot of gesticulation from the title hopeful and prompted the junior Marquez brother to take a more supporting role until overtaking with nine laps to go and reigniting the victory battle.
It was while pushing hard to take back the position that Rins fell with four laps to go, blowing the championship wide open after losing his rear on the start/finish straight. The Spaniard rejoined to cross the line in 24th.
Salom thus clings onto the championship lead by just two points from Vinales, who moves into second, with Rins just five points off the lead. That means a win for any of the trio in Valencia will hand them the title.
The KTM victory of Marquez also means that the Austrian factory now holds the record for the longest sequence of successive wins in the lightweight class by any one manufacturer at 20, taking the record from Honda who won 19 times in a row over the 1990/1 seasons.
Jonas Folger rode sensibly in an action packed race to seal the final podium spot for Aspar.