Both the Moto2 and Moto3 World Championships took significant steps towards deciding their respective new title holders at Phillip Island on Sunday, as the 2013 title chases began to reach a thrilling climax with just two rounds of the season now remaining.
Moto2: Espargaró wins shortened race to claim lead
The word dramatic may be an understatement when it comes to the weekend's proceedings at the famous Phillip Island track.
After Championship leader Scott Redding was ruled out of Sunday's race with a fractured wrist thanks to a crash on Saturday. With the Brit on the sidelines, his closest rival Pol Espargaró was presented with a clear opportunity to take advantage of Redding's misfortune at a track where the Spaniard won in last year's Moto2 race.
When race day came around Espargaró rose to the challenge in a shortened race distance. Ran at 13 laps instead of the previously anticipated 25 due to fears over tyre safety, it turned into a sprint for victory with Espargaró coming out on top by half a second.
Starting from pole position Espargaró never relinquished the lead, and came across the finish line 0.591s ahead of Swiss Tom Lüthi, with Spaniard Jordi Torres claiming the third and final podium position. Espargaró's team-mate Esteve Rabat – the only other ride in with a mathematical chance of the title before this weekend – finished down in eighth as his faint title hopes took a blow. Sandro Cortese and Danny Kent both scored points with finishes of 11th and 13th respectively.
Espargaró now leads the Championship on 240 points with the injured Redding – who is targeting the final round in Valencia as his return – on 220.
Moto3: Rins wins photo finish to crank up pressure on Salom
The Moto3 race produced a thriller with Alex Rins pipping Maverick Viñales to victory by just 0.003s, with Championship leader Luis Salom coming home third as his lead at the top was slashed to just five points.
It was a tight affair from start to finish across the 23 laps, but it all came down to the finish line with Rins taking his sixth win of the year to close the gap on Salom in the pursuit of the title. Salom was just 0.178s off Rins and with so little to choose between the top three it promises a nail-biting climax to the 2013 season.
Salom holds his lead with 300 points, with Rins on 295 and Viñales on 278 as the Championship heads directly to Japan for the penultimate race of the campaign.