Zarco clinches second straight Moto2 title in Malaysia

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Johann Zarco became the first rider to successfully defend the Moto2 title by wrapping up the championship with one race remaining in Malaysia on Sunday.

Zarco, 26, won the intermediate class of motorcycle racing for the first time in 2015, but did not make the move up to MotoGP, instead preferring to spend another year in Moto2 with the Kalex-backed Ajo Motorsport team.

Zarco faced a stiffer challenge for the title in 2016, coming under early pressure from Thomas Luthi and Alex Rins at the top of the riders’ championship.

The Frenchman enjoyed a run of four victories in five races over the summer to re-assert his authority over the field, only for a DNF at Silverstone to allow Rins to close the gap.

Two non-scores for Rins gave Zarco the chance to create some breathing room ahead of the final run-in, before victory on Sunday at Sepang saw him move into an unassailable lead with one race to go.

The result sees Zarco become the first French rider to win more than one title in grand prix motorcycle racing, and will give him a boost ahead of his long-awaited move up to MotoGP in 2017 with Tech3 Yamaha.