Not even two long-lap penalties could stop Ayumu Sasaki from storming through the field en route to a dominant win in at the Red Bull Ring, his second victory in Moto3.
The Japanese rider had shown great pace all weekend, but having been handed a double long-lap penalty from the previous round at Silverstone, few expected a win from the Husqvarna man.
Sasaki capitalised on his front-row grid position and settled straight into an early tussle with fellow Japanese rider Tatsuki Suzuki and Deniz Öncü for the lead of the race. He briefly held P1 before serving his penalties, which caused him to drop down to 21st position.
As is often the case in Moto3, the lead changed hands numerous times, with multiple riders taking advantage of the tow along the start/finish straight. A bold move from David Muñoz on lap 5 saw him fly from 4th to 1st at turn 1. The leading group surged towards the new chicane, where Öncü was forced wide, causing him to drop to 9th.
The Team Aspar duo of Sergio Garcia and Izan Guevara were making progress through the pack and joined the leading group with Guevara taking the lead from Suzuki at the start of lap 6.
As predicted before the race, gaps started to appear throughout the field. Several riders set personal fastest laps to try and stay with the leaders, but none were faster than Sasaki who was carving his way towards the front.
By lap 10, he had caught up to the leading group and forced his way past Garcia, who received a track limits warning for his troubles. Nobody was able to match Sasaki’s pace, and he continued to pick off the riders ahead of him with ease.
As Guevara led the pack into lap 13, Sasaki was all-over the GASGAS riders exhaust, hurrying him through the chicane and sliding into first place at turn 3. Suzuki followed his countryman past Guevara to put his Leopard Honda into 2nd.
Sasaki looked in complete control in the lead of the race, Suzuki was keeping him honest, but was unable to get close enough to make a passing attempt as the laps continued to tick past.
On lap 17 Jaume Masiá crashed in turn 3, the Spanish rider had struggled all weekend but was able to re-join the race. Elsewhere the Aspar riders were racing each other very aggressively, with Garcia passing Guevara and forcing him wide at turn 10 in the process.
In the closing stages, Suzuki had to contend with a hard charging Öncü and was unable to attack Sasaki who rode flawlessly to take the chequered flag. Suzuki held onto 2nd with Muñoz beating Öncü to the final step on the podium.
Garcia finished 5th, increasing the gap in the championship standings over his teammate Guevara to 5 points. It was a day to forget for fellow championship rival Denis Foggia who finished 12th, the Italian is now 49 points off the championship lead. Sasaki’s win puts him 55 points behind Garcia in the standings.
Feature Image: MotoGP