Already crowned champion in the all-Honda Moto2 class, Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport Kalex) waited until the last of 19 laps to pounce on pole qualifier and race-long leader Thomas Luthi (Derendinger Racing Interwetten Kalex) in Sepang Yesterday afternoon.
The French winner had saved enough of his tyres in the blazing heat to draw more than half a second clear at the chequered flag.
It was win number eight for the rider who has dominated the middle category, where all riders use race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines supplied by the organisers.
Australian Grand Prix winner Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) had been trailing the pair in third until half distance, at the same time fending off a determined Jonas Folger (AGR Team Kalex). Then the star rookie, who took over second in the standings from absent defending champion Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), pushed too hard and crashed out.
This left a lonely third to Folger, who already has two wins this year, and one other podium finish.
Japan‰Ûªs Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Kalex) emerged victorious in a strong battle for fourth; eventually outpacing Italian teenager Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Kalex).
More than five seconds behind, Luis Salom (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) had a strong race, coming through from 13th in the early laps to sixth. His last victim, less than half a second behind, had been former Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex).
Malaysian star Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex) dropped back from this group for ninth, having caught and passed German GP winner Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex)
‰ÛÏFrom the beginning I felt good, but Luthi was even better." Zarco commented. "What I did was try to follow him as best I could; things were a little different than I thought, so I tried to stay calm and not even look back because I had a very good pace.
"I figured that if I stuck to him it would be the two of us fighting for first and second place ‰ÛÒ and that was how it ended up. From the middle of the race I saw that he was faster than me; but at the end I was able to catch him and on the last lap I tried to overtake him to finally cross the line first.
"This latest win is fantastic, and I am very happy. It has been a very long three weeks and it‰Ûªs been hard mentally and physically.‰Û