Joseph Matthew remains the undisputed leader of the 2018 Gixxer Cup as he managed to keep his perfect finish record intact in Round 3 of JKNRC 2018.
While the 2018 Gixxer Cup has been a one-man show so far, round 3 was no different as Joseph Matthew continued his relentless chase for this year's title. In Race One on Saturday, Matthew started on pole with Clinton Cordeiro and Malsawmdawngliana in second and third place on the grid, respectively. While the front-runners were setting the pace of the race, behind them, things weren't playing out so well. In the first lap itself, Amul Angadi and Harshad Samra (#21 and #10) crashed out which resulted in Syed Ali coming into the third position behind Mala. Next, lap three witnessed a major crash involving riders Vidhan Dubey, Sanjeev Mhatre and Tanay Gaikwad just after C6. As the marshals scampered to get the damaged bikes off the track, Race Control felt best to red flag the entire session. The riders escaped with minor injuries.
Once the session was restarted after a 20-minute delay, Joseph quickly took the lead and kept increasing the gap as the race progressed. With just four laps to go, Joseph, followed by Mala in P2, had built a comfortable lead over the rest of the pack. However, loss of traction at turn 11 meant Mala had to slow down a bit, giving Joseph a big enough gap to win the race comfortably. Sachin Chaudhary and Syed Ali fought a close battle on the main straight on the last lap, however, Sachin managed to claim the final spot on the podium while Syed Ali had to settle for a points-scoring fourth place.
For Race Two on Sunday, the starting order was determined by the finish order of the previous race. This meant Matthew getting the inevitable pole position yet again, with Mala in P2 and Sachin in the third place. This time though, Mala tried every trick in the book to clinch the top spot but the last-turn thriller turned out to be a win for Matthew yet again. Matthew had a good start with Mala close behind him. With just four laps to go, Joseph had increased the gap between him and the rest of the pack significantly and he looked unstoppable. Mala and Syed were trying to find the pace but Joseph had secured a good lead. However, on the last lap, Mala's pace increased dramatically which allowed him to come within inches of Matthew. In just one lap, Mala had been able to overcome all the lead that Matthew had built over the previous ten laps.
In a last-lap thriller, Matthew and Mala were racing neck-to-neck and the fight for the top spot went right down to the wire. However, fortune seemed to favour Matthew as he managed to finish in P1 with Mala behind by just 0.087 seconds. Syed came home to a third place while Sachin had to settle for fourth. Thus, Round Three of the Gixxer Cup ended on a high-adrenaline note. Also, this was Joseph Matthew's sixth consecutive victory in the three rounds of the championship, which already puts him in contention for this year's championship title.