Danny Kent has clinched the Moto3 world championship after finishing todays’ final race of the season in 9th place, which was enough to clinch the title despite his title rival Miguel Oliveira winning the race.
Kent finished the season with 260 points, 6 ahead of Oliveria and 53 ahead of Italian teenager Enea Bastiannini.
Kent had a 24 point lead heading into the final weekend of the season, and knew that all had to do was finish 14th or higher and he would become the first English world champion since Barry Sheene in 1977. That task was made more difficult as Kent could only qualify down in 18th place after a mistake with his gearbox setup in qualifying.
As the race started and Oliveira immediately hit the front where he would battle for the whole race, Kent set about moving through the field to try and clinch that title. After passing several riders, Kent found himself in 12th place going into the final few laps, where upon he became embroiled in a battle with his team-mate Hiroki Ono.
The pair swapped places a few times with observers wondering why the Japanese rider was openly fighting with his title-chasing team-mate but Kent knew that as the race wore on he had done enough to clinch the world championship.
At the front, Oliveria was in a battle for victory with Romano Fenati and Jorge Navarro – as well as Kent’s Leopard Racing team-mate Efren Vazquez. The Portuguese rider would go on to win the race which was all he could do in his attempts to win the title, as he finished 0.198s ahead of Navarro.
Jakub Kornfeil clinched an unlikely third place finish as Niccolo Antonelli crashed on the last corner and also took out Fenati and Efren Vazquez. The crash meant that Danny Kent was promoted to 9th place and the title was secured.
Speaking after the race, Kent was understandably delighted:
It’s definitely the best day of my life today, it’s feels so good to clinch the title which took four races finally. So there were some nail-biting times behind me. But now I leave the Moto3 category as World Champion, which is such a great thing. To win the championship in the very last race is very emotional. A huge thanks to everyone involved in this great success.
On succeeding Barry Sheene as the most recent British world champion, Kent said:
It’s the dream come true for any rider and especially being British. Last time we had a British winner was in 1977 and it was Barry Sheene. So I feel very honoured to be the next British rider to win the championship. I know what hard work that meant, my family, everyone is gone through and it’s finally paying off.
Despite just missing out on the world championship, Miguel Oliveira was pleased with how his season panned out:
Whoever has the most points wins the championship, and we came very close, but I’m happy with the season we’ve had -especially the last three races. Winning all three has been very good. We have proven to be a great team and the results we have obtained make me optimistic about the new challenges to come in the future. Throughout the year I have not had hardly any head-to-head battles with Kent. It has been a fight at a distance, because we haven’t really coincided at the front much. I have had ups and downs this year, but to end up winning the last three races is a great feat.
I’m happy with today’s win, in a race that was very competitive. I want to thank the whole team, KTM, Red Bull and all the partners for this wonderful season.
With the season now over, both Danny Kent and Miguel Oliveira can look forward to moving up to Moto2 where they will become team-mates in the Leopard Racing team.