Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli was crowned the 2017 Moto2 World Champion at the Sepang International Circuit today.
Morbidelli secured the title even before the start of the 20-lap Malaysian Grand Prix.
With Morbidelli’s main rival Tom Lüthi declared unfit on Sunday morning it meant that the 22-year-old Italian could not be beaten for the title.
With the title pressure lifted Morbidelli rode to a safe third place in the race to claim his 11th podium in a superb season of racing.
Those 11 podiums have included eight victories in the 17 races so far with just the final GP of the season at Valencia remaining.
On the slow down lap Morbidelli - wearing a “Franky Says Relax” championship shirt - celebrated his win trackside with the team, who were joined by nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi.
Morbidelli, 22, is the first Italian rider to win the intermediate class championship since 2008 when Marco Simoncelli won the 250cc title and the second Moto2 Champion for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS after Tito Rabat’s 2014 title.
The jubilation of Morbidelli’s championship victory was contrasted by the disappointing outcome for Álex Márquez who was an early retirement.
Márquez inexplicably crashed twice, at turns two and six, early in the race after moving into second place just after the start.
With just the Valencia GP remaining Morbidelli has 288 points ahead of second-placed Tom Lüthi (243) followed by Miguel Oliveira (216) with Márquez fourth on 190 points.
Franco Morbidelli: 3rd - 2017 Moto2 World Champion
“This is an incredible feeling and now the reality is sinking in after the race. I am so happy for myself but also sorry for Tom Lüthi who could not race today. However I have done a great season with fantastic support from my team even though we suffered some down days. I wanted to make a good race today and get on the podium on the day we secured the championship.”
Álex Márquez: DNF
“It is something strange when you crash twice without pushing and I feel there was perhaps some problem with the front-end of the bike so we need to check everything to see what happened. We don’t know what happened. Now I need to forget about this and move to Valencia for the final race although this DNF means I have lost third place in the championship.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“This is a fantastic day for Franky and our team which I am so proud to be part of. I must say a big thank you to Marc van der Straten who backs this team and allows us to achieve results like this championship win. Everyone in the team has done a great job this season to win our second Moto2 World Championship after the first one with Tito Rabat in 2014. It is a pity Álex did not have a good day but I’m sure he will be back strong in Valencia.”
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