‘Inconsistent’ is an adjective which could be used to describe the first three races of almost every rider in the 2019 Moto3 World Championship. Although several riders have been fast in the early stages of this season, not one of them has made the podium in all three GPs of 2019.
So, despite not finishing the first race (through no fault of his own) Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) is the joint-leader of the championship, on forty-five points, going into the first European race of the season: the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez. The speed at which the championship will now approach the halfway point, at the close of the German Grand Prix in just over two months’ time, means that consistency for the next six races is potentially the most crucial ingredient in building a championship challenge.
In Moto3, where the races are so unpredictable, hard-fought and contain so many riders and motorcycles in the battle for the lead, it is often only one rider who can identify themselves as a championship challenger. Last year, that should have been Jorge Martin, such was his speed, but his inconsistency allowed the championship to be close, with Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio remaining in touch. Perhaps the best example of the early European season being a critical point of the World Championship is 2015, when Danny Kent took so many victories, with such conviction, and made it seem impossible that anyone could challenge him in the second half of the season. Despite his awful form in the second half of the year, and Miguel Oliveira’s strong push towards the title that took the fight to the final round in Valencia, Kent’s success in motorcycle grand prix racing’s European heartlands meant he was able to clinch the crown.
It is Masia who seems closest at the moment to becoming 2019’s Danny Kent, although he will no doubt hope to avoid the drop off after the summer break. In Qatar, the Spaniard was not at full fitness, an injury sustained after setting the fastest time of the Moto3 Jerez test in the winter still holding him back. Then, he was involved in an accident not of his making. The form shown by Masia in the two following rounds, in Argentina and the United States, are perhaps more representative of his potential. A poor qualifying and a difficult start in America limited his possibilities, but nonetheless the KTM rider came through to finish second, two weeks on from picking up his first grand prix win in Argentina.
The rider who beat Masia to the flag in Austin was also the rider with whom the #5 shares the championship lead: Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). A disappointing Argentinian round punctuated two top threes in Qatar and America for the #44, and returning to the site of his first grand prix win back in 2017, Canet will have high ambitions for this weekend in Jerez, where he will look to pull clear at the top of the championship.
The two aforementioned Spaniards are the clear standouts in the pack this season so far, as far as the championship is concerned. However, Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) will be aiming to identify himself as a genuine championship contender as the series returns to Europe. A podium in Qatar, where he was second behind Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), was followed up by a seventh in Argentina and a thirteenth in America. The Argentinian result was largely due to Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power), who has not endeared himself to his competitors so far this season, and on this occasion put a move on Dalla Porta which sent him wide at turn five at the end of the straight. The Texan result, however, is not so easily explained, although the Italian’s history at the Circuit of the Americas is poor. Nonetheless, it will be a priority for the Italian to return to the podium this weekend and to close the gap on the two Spaniards who have jumped ahead of him in the standings since Qatar.
Returning to the championship this weekend, at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, is the Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team rider, Albert Arenas, who is fit again after a nasty cycling accident which saw Aleix Viu stand in for him at the two Americas races. Two times a winner last year, Arenas is without a podium on home soil since he arrived in the World Championship, something he will be looking to change on Sunday.
Featured Image courtesy of Chippy Wood/KTM