Moto3: Merciless Masia in Motegi

Image Credit: MotoGP

Leopard Racing’s Jaume Masia conquered Motegi today in Japan. Masia in full command at the front, as his title rivals all squabbled behind gifting Masia the win.

All change in the Moto3 championship as Masia now sits at the top. Championship rival’s Ayumu Sasaki finished 2nd after snatching it on the line from Daniel Holgado finishing in 3rd. Deniz Öncü pushed it too far and into the gravel after battling at the front for so long. 

Image Credit: Leopard Racing

AS IT HAPPENED

Stefano Nepa and Öncü had a great start off the line, Nepa from row 2 and up to 3rd after turn 1. Holgado up to 2nd with Öncü leading the way at the front of the race. Öncü was keen to pull away at the front and into turn 5 was followed by Holgado and Nepa with a slight gap to the rest of the pack lead by Masia.

Alonso pushed Ortola but unable to get by as they come down the hill into sector 4 to complete the first lap. Diogo Moreira was up 5 places at the end of lap 1 but front row starter Matteo Bertelle was down 7 places. Bertelle later retiring out of the race after 7 laps. Not the race the Rivacold Snipers Team rider would of dreamt of last night.

Onto lap 2 and Masia quickly caught and went by Nepa. Home favourite Sasaki followed Masia going by Nepa into turn 7. Öncü and Holgado lead at the front with a 0.374 gap to Masia in 3rd. Masia swapped fastest lap times with Öncü, as Masia was keen to catch the leaders with Sasaki for company.

In the early stages of the race a lead group quartet developed. Masia and Sasaki caught up to Holgado and race leader Öncü. Into the 90 degree corner Sasaki missed a half hearted attempt to get by Holgado as they completed the first third of the race.

The lead group of 4 pulled away from the rest with a gap of 1.046 seconds to Nepa leading the rest of the field in 5th. Sasaki into sector 3 got by Holgado as they went through the tunnel and onto the last two corners to complete the lap. Öncü lead the group of 4 with Sasaki 2nd, Holgado 3rd and Masia in 4th.

Lap 6 and Masia went by Holgado and Sasaki midway through the lap. Out of turn 10 and onto the straight, Masia broke as late as he could to keep 2nd and hunt down Öncü to start lap 7.

Masia into turn 1 took the lead of the race for the first time. Sasaki into turn 3 went up the inside of Öncü. Öncü went backwards as Masia looked to escape at the front. Holgado almost come together with Öncü at turn 7. Into turn 11 and with the slipstream Sasaki was unable to get by Masia through turns 11, 12 and 13.

10 laps to go and the lead quarter lead by Masia are still over 1 second ahead of the group behind lead by Nepa. Holgado swarmed all over the back of Öncü but was unable to get by. Sasaki sat on the back wheel of Masia as they crossed the line as we approached the second half of the race.

Nepa and Ortola closed the gap slightly to the lead group at the front, as Masia seemed to be managing the pace. Öncü into turn 7 on the fastest place on the track blasted by Sasaki. Sasaki and Öncü swapped places as Sasaki went by Öncü only a few corners later. A fantastic battle for the win with the front 4 riders forever dicing for the lead.

 

8 laps to go and Masia lead with Sasaki 2nd, Öncü 3rd and Holgado 4th. A gap of 1.129 seconds to teammates Nepa and Ortola behind. Sector 1 lit up with yellow flags as the first retirement of the race Xavi Artigas went down at turn 1.

Sasaki, Öncü and Holgado diced and swapped places. Öncü down and out of the race into turn 10. Öncü pushed too hard and out in sector 3. Disaster for any championship hopes for Öncü and looked to of handed Masia a lead and win of this race with all of the fighting on lap 11.

Masia pulled a 1.117seconds gap to the fighting Holgado and Sasaki behind and now in full control of the race at this point.

Holgado and Sasaki almost come together in turn 1 with 6 laps to go. As the battle for 6th continued lead by Moreira, Masia was 1.209 seconds clear at the front of Sasaki 2nd and Holgado 3rd.

Tatsuki Suzuki down at turn 1 with 4 laps to go. Sasaki tried to catch Masia and pulled back over 3 tenths of a second to the leader up ahead. Sasaki and Holgado squashed any fighting now and both gunning to catch Masia at the front.

Masia lead with 3 laps to go. Sasaki and Holgado still 0.875 seconds behind. Still the ever changing places of 4th and 5th between teammates Ortola 4th Nepa 5th. The Angellus MTA  teammates although on their own for the race, have had a great battle with each other in Motegi.

2 laps to go and Masia responds to the charge from Sasaki and Holgado behind. Masia in full command here and headed to the top of the world championship standings. Nepa now lead Ortola as the two Angellus MTA teammates have over 3 seconds gap to the rest of the field, lead by Moreira down in 6th.

THE LAST LAP 

Alonso barged his way by Toba into 8th. Moreira still lead the group with Munoz all over the back of him at the start of the last lap.

In an attempt to salvage as many points as possible, Holgado went up the inside of Sasaki into sector 3 at turn 11.

Masia crossed the line to take a back-to-back victory. As Masia won the drama wasn’t finished there as Sasaki snatched 2nd from Holgado on the finish line. A mistake from victory corner from Holgado allowed Sasaki to take 2nd on the line away from Holgado. Through the final corner Holgado nearly lost it and Sasaki pounced to take 2nd place.

The 9th career win for Leopard Racing’s Masia and arguably his most important. Masia now leading the championship in Moto3 and heads to Mandalika in a couple of weeks time the main man to beat. What a win for Masia!

Race Classification

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Championship Standings

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Moto3: Motegi Pole for Masia

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Jaume Masia continued his blistering form and took his 3rd pole position in a row here today in Motegi, Japan. Masia made it look easy, with championship rival Deniz Öncü qualifying in 2nd and a back-to-back front row start for Matteo Bertelle completing the front row in 3rd.

A 5th pole position of the season for Leopard Racing team’s Masia and it’s hard to imagine anyone in Moto3 being able to stop Masia charging to championship glory. Championship rival’s Daniel Holgado starts the race on row 2 from 6th position and Ayumu Sasaki starts 7th on row 3 tomorrow.

Image Credit: Leopard Racing 

AS IT HAPPENED

Qualifying 1

Jose Antonio Rueda had a rare appearance in Q1. Taiyo Furusato and Riccardo Rossi also unlikely names in Q1 ready to battle it out for a spot in Q2.

Furusato was the first of the riders to come through and set a time, quickly followed by a group of 5 unable to go faster, with 10mins left of the session. Furusato was quicker through the first 2 sectors on the next run, only for the lap to be cancelled after running wide in sector 3.

Red Bull KTMs Filippo Farioli come through and up to 2nd in the standings. Still +0.633 seconds behind the quickest time set so far in the session. A 1:57.564 from Furusato. Farioli come off at the end of turn 2, but quickly back up and thankfully Farioli ok to continue.

5mins left in the session and CFMOTO teammates Joel Kelso and Xavi Artigas come through with Kelso setting the quickest time and Artigas up into 3rd. The top 4 currently heading through to Q2 at this point was Kelso, Furusato, Artigas and Farioli.

3mins remained in the session and Rossi was red through sectors 1 and 2 on his first flying lap in the session. Rossi topped the standings with a 1:57.161 a time +0.261seconds clear of Kelso in 2nd.

The riders had very little time to get through to Q2, only one more shot at getting through to Q2. Kelso, Artigas, Rueda and Rossi all on flying laps as the chequered flag came down on the session. The top 4 heading through to Q2 were Rossi, Kelso, Furusato and Rueda.

Qualifying 2

Some breaking news at the start of the Q2 session, with 3 place grid penalties handed out to Diogo Moreira and Collin Veijer. Both for moving their hands off the grips on the straights. No rain and a dry session in a really important qualifying in Moto3. Just 1 point separating the top 3 in the championship.

As the battle for pole position started it was bike #6 Ryusei Yamanaka coming through to set the first time of the session. GASGAS Aspar Team rider Yamanaka keen to impress this weekend and still needed a ride for next season. Bertelle quickly followed over the line and up to the top of the timings, with Ortola 2nd and Rueda currently in 3rd.

Less than 10mins of the session remained and the first group of riders were all setting flying laps. David Munoz setting a benchmark time now of 1:56.892, the first to get into the 1min56’s. Munoz tucking in behind the Husqvarna teammates Veijer and Sasaki picking up some slipstream along the finish straight.

Masia now seen coming out of the pits with Deniz Öncü, Kaito Toba, Rossi and Kelso all yet to set a time in the session.

With 5mins left of the session both Masia and Öncü were lighting up the sectors red just as Rossi had a big crash into turn 9. Yellow flags in sector 3, but both Masia and Öncü clear of the incident at the time and their laps stood. Masia up to the top with a 1:56.744 and Öncü 2nd with a gap of just +0.120seconds to Masia on provisional pole.

Masia and Öncü marched on with Öncü behind Masia on track, both continued to set the sectors red on their second runs. Both Masia and Öncü improved with Masia up to a 1:56.331 with a gap of +0.208 to Öncü in 2nd. Only Öncü able to be within a half a second to Masia at the top.

Sasaki with only a minute left in the session got a slipstream from teammate Veijer. Sasaki through the victory corner turn 14 onto the straight only to go 5th. Sasaki was up in the first two sectors on Masia on that lap, but unable to piece it all together for pole position.

With the chequered flag waving the riders all completed the session, none of the riders able to knock Masia off the top. A third pole position in a row for Masia. The Leopard Racing team rider sent a clear message to his championship rivals today in Motegi. A 5th pole position of the season for Masia and seemingly unstoppable at the moment in Moto3.

Official Starting Grid

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Moto3: Close and frantic in Mugello as Holgado snatches victory

On a glorious day in the Tuscan hillside, Daniel Holgado stamped his authority on the Moto3 championship with a slipstreamed snatching victory in Mugello. Holgado now heads to the Sachsenring next weekend with a 35 point lead in the championship. With no victory from pole position so far this season, an ongoing curse causing major heartache for our Turkish teenage wonderkid, Deniz Öncü. Losing a race in the last few metres can’t be easy to take, and I’m sure Öncü will be gunning for revenge next weekend in Germany.

Image Credit: Leopard Racing 

AS IT HAPPENED

With no threat of rain and the track temperature at 36°, we all know that Moto3 at Mugello produces a blistering slipstreaming battle at the front and this race was no exception.

Before we got going, Romano Fenati stalled at the start having to start in the pit lane watching the rest of the pack blast down to San Donato (turn 1) with Holgado moving up to 2nd. Pushing hard on lap 1, Öncü managed to create a  bit of a gap in his favoured sector 3, only to be swallowed up, caught and past on the straight by Holgado and Ayumu Sasaki closing out the first lap of the race.

Approaching the end of lap 3 and into lap 4,  a snaking slipstreaming train of Moto3 riders dicing into turn 1 was becoming common practice for the race. A leading group of 8 riders now lead by Öncü onto lap 4, and it was anyone’s guess at this point as to who would come out on top.

Each time Öncü tried to break free from the pack, the group of riders behind had other ideas, especially Sasaki in the early stages of the race. Sasaki clearly comfortable sitting in second place and dicing with Holgado, Öncü and Jaume Masia at every opportunity. Could any rider break free and build a lead?


As the laps ticked by it was becoming clear that whoever was leading this race after the last turn of the last lap, it was going to be difficult to win the race.  A special mention to Öncü and the overtake around the outside of Masia at the start lap 6 into San Donato it was definitely my favourite overtake of the race.

 

As we move past half distance, we had a tightly bunched up group of 5 riders continuing to dice and swap places at every opportunity. With 7 laps left to go any of the 5 riders could take victory in the Tuscan hillside. Öncü, Sasaki, Masia, Holgado and David Alonso all showing what they’re made of as the Italian crowd looked on with awe as to who would come out on top.

Snaking along the straight with 3 laps to go, it was clear that this was shaping up to be a last lap thriller of a finish and we weren’t disappointed. Even as the leading pack all received conduct warnings, it wasn’t going to stop any of them in pursuit of victory in Mugello.

Now heading into the last lap of the race, Sasaki was 3 bike lengths ahead heading down into San Donato and leading the race coming out of turn  1. Out of turn 2 and into turn 3, Holgado didn’t wait any longer to make a move and take the lead of the race. Holgado holding station for now in the next few corners until Öncü made a move in his beloved Arrabbiatta 2 (Turn 9). Now with only 5 corners left, Öncü clearly desperately clinging on to first as we headed into the final few corners. As the group wound round the last corner to take the straight for the final time and with only a few metres to go for Öncü,  the slipstream blasted Holgado by Öncü taking the chequered flag and first win away from Öncü, gifting Holgado’s 3rd win of the season. A cruel and thrilling finish to an action packed Moto3 race in Mugello.

As we move on to Germany this week in the second race of our triple header of back to back races, will Öncü manage to finally get his maiden victory? Will anyone manage to put a dint in Holgado’s championship lead?

Image Credit: MotoGP

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

 

Guevara Secures Fifth Win of the Season

Izan Guevara Japanese GP

Izan Guevara made it back to back wins in Moto3, extending his championship lead to 45 points over teammate Sergio Garcia.

It was a rocky start to the weekend for Guevara as the conditions in Japan proved tricky. The Spaniard had never raced at Motegi and a huge crash during Sunday’s warmup had the Aspar mechanics working hard to repair his bike in time for the race.

Guevara lined up on row three after a mediocre qualifying session by his standards. Japanese rider Tatsuki Suzuki had secured pole position, he was joined on the front row by Visiontrack’s Scott Ogden and Garcia.

As the lights went out, Garcia got a great launch and immediately started challenging for the lead as chaos ensued behind him. Australian rider Joel Kelso had a big crash at turn nine collecting Josh Whatley in the process, before Carlos Tatay and Kaito Toba fell at the following corner.

Izan Guevara leading the pack at Moto3 Japan 2022. Image courtesy of GASGAS Motorcycles/Polarity Photo

It was an incredible start from Guevara who made short work of his peers, taking the lead at the beginning of lap two. Ayumu Sasaki and Dennis Foggia latched onto the back of the Spaniard, who immediately set about breaking away from the rest of the pack.

Sasaki and Guevara exchanged the lead back and forth while the riders behind struggled to stay upright. Kanta Hamada, Dani Holgado, Suzuki and Adrian Fernandez all fell from their bikes. Ogden was fighting in the points places before running wide at turn 9, dropping to the back of the field.

By lap eight the leading trio were joined by Jaume Masia who was the fastest man on track. Garcia meanwhile was beginning to lose ground on the leaders and was swallowed up by a second group, consisting of Diogo Moreira, John McPhee and David Muñoz.

With the leaders effectively riding in formation, a fierce battle was underway in the chasing group. Garcia jostled for position with Moreira, McPhee and Muñoz, while his championship rivals pulled away.

On lap 17 the situation at the front intensified. Masia moved up to second place, Foggia followed him past Sasaki who dropped to fourth as Guevara tried to make a break from the group. Masia, desperate to stay within striking distance of the leader, had a huge highside between turns 12 and 13.

With Masia out, Guevara was infallible in the closing laps. The Spaniard took the chequered flag for the fifth time this season and now has a firm grip on the Moto3 title. Foggia crossed the line in second, and Sasaki became the first Japanese rider with a home podium since 2009.

Garcia managed to salvage fourth place but with just four races left this season, it will take something special for him to win the championship.

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Guevara Reigns Supreme in Aragón

izan guevara aragon moto3

A dominant ride from Izan Guevara saw the Spaniard extend his championship lead to 33 points while his title rivals struggled at MotorLand Aragón.

Guevara was confident going into the weekend after taking the championship lead from his Aspar teammate Sergio Garcia in the last round at Misano. After wowing the paddock with an acrobatic handstand before securing a comfortable pole position on Saturday, the 18-year-old never looked back en route to his 4th win of the season.

Izan was joined on the front row by Ayumu Sasaki and Dani Holgado. The trio enjoyed good launches and immediately set about pulling away from the rest of the field. British youngster Josh Whatley was taken out at turn 1 in an incident involving Nicola Carraro and Lorenzo Fellon.

Following a disappointing qualifying session, Garcia was desperate to make up places from the 4th row on the grid. It was confirmed yesterday that the Spanish rider would be competing in Moto2 next season with Pons Racing, but he found himself caught in a scrap in the middle of the pack while the leaders pulled away.

After managing to get his championship challenge back on track with a win in Misano, Dennis Foggia struggled from the start at Aragón. The Leopard Honda rider couldn’t seem to find the pace he needed to challenge his rivals and quickly found himself outside the top 10.

The leading trio were in a different league to the rest, increasing the gap behind them by roughly half a second each lap. Deniz Öncü muscled his way up to 4th but despite his best efforts was unable to bridge the gap to the front group.

While the leaders pulled away, it was a typical Moto3 battle for the rest of the field. Sixteen year old rookie David Muñoz practically ran through KTM rider Adrian Fernandez, earning a long-lap penalty for his troubles.

With 3 laps to go Holgado began to drop off from the leading pair as the pace simply became too much for the young Spaniard. Sasaki was the only rider able to stick with the leader who was simply unassailable.

The result was never in question, as Guevara secured his fifth win in Moto3 and probably his best. Sasaki was an admiral runner-up and Holgado secured his first Grand Prix podium. It was a race to forget for Garcia and Foggia who finished in 13th and 14 respectively.

With his rivals struggling, Guevara’s 33 point championship lead makes him the clear favourite for the Moto3 crown, but with 5 rounds remaining, anything can happen.

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Moto3: Misano Maestro Strikes Again

dennis foggia misano san marino gp

Dennis Foggia celebrated his promotion to Moto2 in style with a confident win at the San Marino Grand Prix, retaining his crown as the King of Misano.

Buoyed by the announcement that he will be moving up to the intermediate class with Italtrans next season, the Leopard Honda rider carved his way through the field from the third row of the grid and never looked back.

It was a typically eventful start to the race, with Deniz Öncü getting a great launch from pole position. Izan Guevara was hot on the leaders tail with a flying start from row 2, but it didn’t take long for the drama to unfold.

After a dominant win in the previous race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, Japanese rider Ayumu Sasaki was clattered from behind by Nicola Carraro, effectively ending his already slim chance of a title challenge. Elsewhere championship leader Sergio Garcia was forced wide causing him to lose ground on the leaders.

Guevara cemented his good start by snatching the lead from Öncü on lap 2, and quickly set about establishing a gap between himself and the rest of the field.

Desperate to recover from his lap 1 incident, Garcia was the fastest man on track before a 4th lap tangle with Öncü forced him to run wide again, losing more ground in the process. The nightmare continued for the Aspar man, who crashed at turn 4 on the following lap. He was able to continue, but any hope of a points finish was gone.

At the front of the race, Guevara’s lead was diminishing with Foggia, Dani Holgado and Jaume Masiá closing the gap behind him. After reeling in the Spaniard, Foggia made his move to take the lead on lap 10.

After a visit to the pits, Garcia was a lap down, yet continued to battle with the riders in midfield. After slowing down Britain’s John McPhee, the GASGAS rider was shown the black flag, ending a miserable day.

With his teammate out of the race, Guevara had a great chance to boost his title hopes. On lap 17 he briefly took the lead, but Foggia struck back allowing Masiá to snatch 2nd place from the new championship leader.

As the race neared it’s conclusion, Guevara made numerous attempts to take the lead but was unable to get the better of Foggia. He was now under pressure from Masiá and Öncü, who had caught leading trio.

On the final lap of the race Öncü lunged from 4th to 2nd, with himself, Masiá and Guevara all exchanging places. Foggia took advantage of the melee behind him, and hit his marks confidently to take his second victory of the season. Masiá finished 2nd with Guevara 3rd.

Foggia becomes the first rider to win three races at the same track in Moto3, and is just 35 points off the championship lead. It was a weekend to forget for Garcia, he is now 11 points behind teammate Guevara, who tops the championship standings with 204 points.

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