Lights-to-flag victories are uncommon to say the least in Moto3, but that is precisely what Marco Bezzecchi achieved in Austria on Sunday. He made the holeshot, and apart from one moment with four laps to go where Jorge Martin overtook him, Bezzecchi was never passed. It was a supreme ride by the Italian, one well-deserving of his second ever Grand Prix victory. It also meant he extended his championship lead, of course, which now stands at twelve points. Other than that, it is difficult to say much about Bezzecchi’s ride, because it was pretty much faultless.
A poor qualifying and a worse start gave Enea Bastianini a lot of work to do – again. It is becoming a regular thing now with Bastianini, that he cannot start. Like Vinales in MotoGP, his starts have cost him a handful or two of points, and you have to say a few GP wins as well, because his late-race pace – also like Vinales – has been superlative pretty much all season. He recovered to second this time, though, keeping his championship hopes alive, although he is very distant at this stage, with eight rounds left, the deficit stands at 41 points.
By far the standout performance, though, of the 2018 Moto3 Austrian Grand Prix was that of Jorge Martin. Just eight says after he broke his radius in Brno, he qualified second on the grid behind Bezzecchi, and a day later he fought until the end to finish third in the race. It really was a superhuman effort by Martin, and even though the conditions of the race played a little into his hands, you can’t take anything away from his ride. All of his time was made in the two left handers in the middle of the lap, as he consistently took ten bike lengths out of his KTM rivals in those two corners alone. That is impressive enough, but is made even more so considering it was his left radius that is the injured one. Coming into the weekend, Martin was expecting a damage limitation job at best, but instead he rode beautifully to take yet another podium, and drop only nine points in the championship, leaving him just twelve back in the standings to Bezzecchi, who was sure to offer his hand in congratulation and admiration to Martin after the race.
Austria represented Albert Arenas’ best performance since his win in Le Mans back in May, as he took fourth place, ahead of Lorenzo Dalla Porta who bridged the gap to the leaders with Bastianini in the closing stages. The Leopard pair had been working together quite well all weekend, and it seemed almost destined that they would end up helping each other into podium contention.
Jaume Masia was in second place until the penultimate corner, where he ran slightly deep and allowed Enea Bastianini through. Jorge Martin was also able to sneak underneath and as the #5 rider tried to hang on round the outside of the #88, he also lost fourth and fifth places to Arenas and Dalla Porta respectively.
A disappointing qualifying for Ayumu Sasaki left him with a lot of work to do to be able to achieve a decent result. He achieved the work as well, coming from 23rd on the grid to finish seventh in what might be his best World Championship ride to date.
After running with the front guys for a large portion of the race, Gabriel Rodrigo could only manage to come home in eighth place, ahead of Tony Arbolino and Aron Canet who disappointingly completed the top ten, when he really should have been fighting for the victory.
Eleventh over the line was Fabio Di Giannantonio, who had been fighting with Bastianini and Dalla Porta, but then slowed, and ended up shoving a huge late dive on John McPhee in the final corner to try and salvage seventh, but he ran them both wide. McPhee came home twelfth, but it was still an impressive ride from the Scot after qualifying stone last.
He may have been on the podium at his home race last week, but in Austria Jakub Kornfeil could only manage thirteenth, but was ahead of Philipp Oettl and Marcos Ramirez, who rounded out the points.
Kaito Toba crossed the line in sixteenth, ahead of Adam Norrodin, Tatsuki Suzuki and Darryn Binder, whilst Ai Ogura rounded out the top twenty in his fourth wildcard of the year.
Twenty-first went to Kazuki Masaki, whilst Niccolo Antonelli and Nicolo Bulega had difficult races in 22nd and 23rd respectively. Alonso Lopez also struggled, and finished down in 24th place, but ahead of Dennis Foggia who was 26th. Fellow CEV graduate, Vicente Perez was sandwiched between Lopez and Foggia in 25th spot over the line. Stefano Nepa was 27th, ahead of Nakarin Atiratphuvapat and Max Kofler who was the 28th and final finisher.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, there was only one retirement in the Moto3 race in Austria, and it was Andrea Migno at the final corner 12 laps from the flag.
Featured image courtesy of Gold and Goose /KTM