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 


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


Moto2: Canet Takes Pole After Crash

Following two pole positions in a row, Sam Lowes was hoping to have a successful qualifying at Mugello this weekend but the best he could do was third place. Aron Canet crashed out in the second qualifying session but the time he set in the first half of the session, a 1:50.796, was too good for any rider to beat and he will line up on pole position tomorrow, dependent on the medical review he will have before the race starts tomorrow.

The top four spots in the first qualifying session were constantly changing but it seemed to be the same four riders who seemed most comfortable on the Italian asphalt.

Darryn Binder was so confident that he did not need to go out for a second time in the session with the time he set to take second place, behind Ai Ogura, at the halfway point. Even with all the other riders out on track, he was safe and finished the session in fourth place. Jeremy Alcoba and Joe Roberts both set faster times than Binder, dropping him down to fourth fastest.

The riders who made it through to Q2 from Q1 were Roberts, Ogura, Alcoba and Binder.

All riders went out at the start of Q2 to set some banker laps. After the first few tours of the circuit, Canet topped the timesheet with a 1:15.089, followed by Lowes and Manuel Gonzalez.

With nine and half minutes remaining on the clock, Pedro Acosta took the top spot away from Canet, but the Pons Wegow Los40 rider was able to take the position back almost immediately.

At the halfway point of the session, all riders except for Mattia Pasini had set a representative lap time.

With six minutes to go, provisional pole sitter Canet crashed out at the exit of turn three and he lost his visor through the crash. He was taken to the medical centre and following a review, a small bone infraction was found on the ring and little fingers of his right hand. The doctors have decided to review him tomorrow before the race before they make the decision on whether he is fit to race.

Ogura also crashed during the session at turn 12.

At the end of the session, no rider was able to put together a good lap. Alonso Lopez and Celestino Vietti both set fast sectors 1 and 2 but were not able to improve in the third and fourth sectors.

Lining up on the front row alongside Canet will be Acosta and Lowes, who continues his streak of starting on the front row. Roberts, Filip Salac and Jake Dixon fill up the second row. Vietti, Fermin Aldeguer and Lopez are the riders who will start on the third row.

Championship leader Tony Arbolino will start tomorrow’s race from tenth on the grid.

Rory Skinner was injured in the morning practice session due to a collision with Alcoba, forcing him to withdraw from the race and move his focus onto the next round in Sachsenring.

1 Aron Canet SPA Pons Wegow Los40 (Kalex) 1m 50.796s
2 Pedro Acosta SPA Red Bull KTM Ajo (Kalex) 1m 50.955s
3 Sam Lowes GBR Elf Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 50.958s
4 Joe Roberts USA Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 51.008s
5 Filip Salac CZE QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 (Kalex) 1m 51.026s
6 Jake Dixon GBR Autosolar GASGAS Aspar M2 (Kalex) 1m 51.038s
7 Celestino Vietti ITA Fantic Racing (Kalex) 1m 51.097s
8 Fermín Aldeguer SPA MB Conveyors SpeedUp (Boscoscuro) 1m 51.129s
9 Alonso Lopez SPA MB Conveyors SpeedUp (Boscoscuro) 1m 51.145s
10 Tony Arbolino ITA Elf Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 51.245s
11 Manuel Gonzalez SPA Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 (Kalex) 1m 51.325s
12 Jeremy Alcoba SPA QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 (Kalex) 1m 51.519s
13 Darryn Binder RSA Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP (Kalex) 1m 51.582s
14 Ai Ogura JPN IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia (Kalex) 1m 51.696s
15 Albert Arenas SPA Red Bull KTM Ajo (Kalex) 1m 51.737s
16 Sergio Garcia SPA Pons Wegow Los40 (Kalex) 1m 51.748s
17 Somkiat Chantra THA IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia (Kalex) 1m 51.824s
18 Mattia Pasini ITA Fieten Olie Racing GP (Kalex) 1m 52.237s
19 Barry Baltus BEL Fieten Olie Racing GP (Kalex) 1m 51.741s
20 Bo Bendsneyder NED Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team (Kalex) 1m 51.975s
21 Dennis Foggia ITA Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 51.979s
22 Zonta Vd Goorbergh NED Fieten Olie Racing GP (Kalex) 1m 51.983s
23 Sean Dylan Kelly USA OnlyFans American Racing (Kalex) 1m 52.202s
24 Izan Guevara SPA Autosolar GASGAS Aspar M2 (Kalex) 1m 52.280s
25 Borja Gomez SPA Fantic Racing (Kalex) 1m 52.334s
26 Lukas Tulovic GER Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP (Kalex) 1m 52.356s
27 Marcos Ramirez SPA Forward Team (Forward) 1m 52.722s
28 Taiga Hada JPN Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team (Kalex) 1m 53.172s
29 Lorenzo Dalla Porta ITA Forward Team (Forward) 1m 53.489s
30 Kasma Daniel MAL Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 M (Kalex) 1m 54.277s

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto3: Öncü Takes Mugello Pole

With dark clouds lurking in the skies over the circuit in the Tuscan hillside, we headed into the Moto3 qualifying session here in Mugello unsure if the sunshine would hold out for the riders. After nothing short of perfection so far this weekend, could anyone put a stop to Red Bull KTM rider Deniz Öncü taking pole position?

With the longest straight on the MotoGP calendar, as always it’s a battle of the slip stream in Moto3. In Q1, we saw Ryusei Yamanaka dragging Joel Kelso along to post the fastest time. Kelso, with a fantastic lap of 1:57.282, returned to the pits confident of his Q2 slot which was later proved to be right.

As all of the riders took to the track for a final run at getting into Q2, and with only 5 seconds left of the session, Jose Antonio Rueda moved up into 2nd in the timings only to be quickly booted out of the top 4 by a swarm of riders crossing the finish line. Taiyo Furusato, Stefano Nepa, Vicente Perez and Kelso ended Q1 as your top 4 riders. 

As we headed into Q2 the battle for pole was on. Deniz Öncü has been outstanding so far this weekend and quickest in every session. Sat in the pits, the riders all picked who to follow out onto the circuit to get the best slip stream possible.

In the early stages of Q2, Daniel Holgado and Öncü were dicing with each other during their first runs, nearly coming together at one point and resulting in Öncü diving into the pits to wait for a better spot to go back out.

With 8 minutes of the session left and all of the riders were now posting flying laps. It was Kelso who set the fastest lap with Diogo Moreira, Ayumu Sasaki  and Jaume Masia rounding up the top 4. All riders headed back to the pits after their first attempts at pole, only to leave Öncü and Sasaki still pushing on track.

With the track empty and taking full advantage, Öncü quickly posted the fastest time of 1:56.135, nearly half a second clear of Kelso in 2nd. As the riders now made their way back out of the pits for the second attempt, they had a mountain to climb to claim pole position here in Mugello. Coming to the end of their out laps and half the pack blasting down the long straight into turn 1 , could anyone challenge Öncü’s time with only a minute remaining in the session?

Despite having provisional pole, Öncü wasn’t slowing down for anyone, again going faster and posting a 1:56.020 chasing that elusive 1:55 lap time. As the swarm of riders crossed the line on their next flying laps it was Kelso hanging onto 2nd with Sasaki in 3rd and Moreira 4th.

A brilliant qualifying for Kelso but an even better performance from Öncü who showed total dominance and ended the session half a second quicker than anyone else. Sasaki, true to form, ended up on the front row of the grid, his fifth front row start of the season. Rounding off the front row for the race tomorrow is championship leader Holgado promoted to 3rd on the grid after the penalties.

Top 10:

1. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – 1:56.020
2. Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) + 0.591
3. Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) +0.780
4. Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) +0.844
5. Ricardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) +0.983
6. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) +1.077
7. Andrea Migno (CIP Green Power) +1.323
8. Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia) +1.338
9. Scott Ogden (VisionTrack Racing Team) +1.454
10. David Alonso (GASGAS Aspar Team) +1.498 


Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Lewis Hamilton is on Cruise Control Mode

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy.
Saturday 02 September 2017.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W08 EQ Power+.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _31I1954

Lewis Hamilton is on cruise control mode, his steering wheel seems to have an extra hidden button, and the British found it and pressed it with his thumb. At the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton took his 69th pole-position, he is now the driver with the most pole positions in Formula One, he also became the first driver, in 2017, who won two consecutive races and now he is leading the drivers’ championship by three points from Sebastian Vettel.

In Belgium, Lewis looked comfortable and unbeatable, even at the re-start, after the safety car, when Vettel made his move, the Britt managed to defend his first position and a couple of laps later he increased the gap between him and Sebastian Vettel. By seeing the final gap between the two drivers, after 44 laps, someone might assume that Vettel was pushing and was very close to Lewis, but the reality was totally different. The German, was close but still that was not enough for him to make his move and attack for the first place.

At Monza, the Tifosi were expecting to see a fast and competitive Scuderia Ferrari, but instead of that, Ferrari was not even close to Mercedes. The Silver Arrows, were not stopped by the rain and the hours of delay which took place in the FP3 and during the qualifying session. Lewis Hamilton claimed his 69th pole position, followed by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon qualified fourth and fifth respectively, but after the grid penalties which applied almost to every driver on the grid, Stroll promoted to the second position and became the youngest driver who started from the front row.

The two Ferraris qualified seventh (Kimi Raikkonen) and eighth (Sebastian Vettel), both drivers promoted to fifth and sixth respectively. Max Verstappen dropped down to 13th position, while his team-mate started the race from the 16 position.

Lights out

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy.
Sunday 03 September 2017.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _31I4027

Lewis Hamilton had a clean start and remained first after lights out, Lance Stroll lost his second position by Esteban Ocon and dropped down to third place. A few laps later Max Verstappen had a collision with Felipe Massa, Max suffered a puncture which cost him time and dropped him at the back of the grid. The stewards decided to take no further action for the incident between the two drivers. Verstappen managed to recover at the end of the race, the Dutch finished 10th ahead of Kevin Magnussen.

Valtteri Bottas, who qualified sixth, had a good start and gained two positions on the first lap of the race. He was behind Hamilton, Ocon and Stroll and it was a matter of time until he was able to attack the two drivers in front of him. The Finn, had a good pace during the race, he completed Mercedes’ 1-2 as he finished second behind his team-mate.

Daniel Ricciardo started the race from the 16th place and finished fourth, a few seconds, behind Sebastian Vettel. The Australian had an amazing race, he passed the slower cars on the first part of the race, while he was on softs. He had the advantage of fresher and faster tyres during the final laps of the Italian Grand Prix. Twelve laps before the chequered flag, the Australian made his move on Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn was unable to defend his fourth position, Daniel took the inside at the first chicane and with an incredible move, he promoted to fourth place. Ricciardo, was gaining on Vettel lap by lap, but he didn’t have enough laps to close the gap with the German, and finished fourth, about four seconds, behind Vettel.

Both McLaren’s drivers watched the end of the race from the garage. Vandoorne and Alonso retired on 33th and 50th lap respectively. Stoffel had electrical issues, whilst Fernando had problems with his McLaren’s clutch.

The next race will take in Singapore, a circuit which suits more to the Ferrari than to Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel is looking to win his fifth race in 2017 and retake the lead in the drivers’ championship. Lewis Hamilton from the other hand, has the momentum. The British driver, looks very strong, he will have to fight hard to keep his lead and his aim will be to expand his winning streak in Singapore.

Victor Archakis

Twitter – @FP_Passion




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