Hungarian rider Gabor Talmacsi won the 125cc Qatar Grand Prix in a controversial photo-finish ahead of Red Bull KTM team-mate Mika Kallio at the Losail Circuit today.
Kallio had led every lap but was surprised when, in the final ten metres, Talmacsi pulled out of his slipstream and snatched victory, his third of the season.
With Kallio locked in a very close battle for the world championship, the KTM team had decided before the race that Kallio would have the support of team-mates Talmacsi and Julian Simon to help boost his bid for the title.
Kallio's main rival for the title is Honda's Thomas Luthi, who finished a distant sixth today and had started the Qatar GP with an eight-point advantage. KTM had decided on the pre-race plan to support Kallio with just four races remaining, but Talmacsi's unexpected victory cost Kallio five vital points.
Kallio now leads Luthi by just two-points with Talmacsi a further 45 points behind in third place.
Kallio had qualified on pole position and dominated the race, with Talmacsi cruising along behind in his slipstream for all 18 laps… until ten metres from the finish. On the final lap Kallio understood that Talmacsi would stay behind and did not force the pace and risk crashing.
At the finish, Talmacsi and Kallio were nine-seconds ahead of Marco Simoncelli in third place.
"The problem was I didn't know this was the last lap, my pit board was correct but the main board at the finish tower was wrong, I thought there was one more lap to go," claimed Talmacsi somewhat unconvincingly. "I'm a racer and I was close to the front and I had a slipstream and I was little faster on the straight, and when I pulled out the chequered flag came very fast and I didn't realise it was the finish. During the race my tyre performance went down and for sure Mika had a little faster pace than me and he still has a good chance for the title."
"I'm very angry, this was a stupid move by Gabor," fumed Kallio. "On the last lap I knew Gabor was behind me, as he had been all race, but I did not push because I knew that he should come second and that we would take no risks to crash. But then ten meters from the flag he passed me. This has cost me five points in the championship now I just have think about the future and what is possible over the final three races."
"I am not happy at all," confirmed KTM technical and managing director Harald Bartol. "This was not a very clever move by Gabor, this could cost us dearly in the championship at the end of the season. Before the race I spoke to Gabor and Julián and made it clear that if they were in front with Mika, then they had to race to support Mika in the championship, but this did not happen from Gabor."
125cc top ten – Qatar GP:
1. Talmacsi (KTM)
2. Kallio (KTM) +0.017secs
3. Simoncelli (Aprilia) +9.571secs
4. di Meglio (Honda) +11.815secs
5. Faubel (Aprilia) +12.169secs
6. Luthi (Honda) +12.303secs
7. Poggiali (Gilera) +12.317secs
8. Simon (KTM) +12.565secs
9. Pasini (Aprilia) +17.571secs
10. Lai (Honda) +19.757secs