McPhee Wins a Classic in Malaysia

mcphee and sasaki moto3 malaysian grand prix

John McPhee battled his way through the field from 22nd on the grid to take a well deserved win in his penultimate race in Moto3.

It was a difficult weekend for the Scotsman who admitted that after a disappointing result in qualifying, he felt like giving up there and then.

It’s been a brutal season for the 28-year-old who broke his back in a training session before round two in Indonesia, an injury that could have ended his career.

As the lights went out, polesitter Dennis Foggia got bogged down on the damp side of the track, allowing Izan Guevara to lead the field into turn one. The newly crowned champion was unable to break away and was engulfed by a swarm of riders before the end of the first lap.

On lap two Angeluss MTA rider Stefano Nepa suffered a nasty highside at turn nine. Fortunately everyone managed to avoid the Italian who was helped off the track by the marshals.

With the championship decided, all eyes were on the battle for second. Sergio Garcia bolstered his claim by battling with David Muñoz, Jaume Masia, Diogo Moreira and the aforementioned Foggia for the lead.

Muñoz crashed out on lap four, just behind him Tatsuki Suzuki also fell, but was able to continue. The fastest man on track was Max Racing’s Ayumu Sasaki, who was reeling in the lead group lap by lap.

It was scrappy at the front with several riders exchanging positions, allowing Sasaki to join the party. The Japanese rider made short work of his rivals and was soon behind Guevara at the front of the field.

The drama continued at the start of lap 13 as Riccardo Rossi fell at turn one. Further back Carlos Tatay pulled into the garage, ending his day early. Sasaki made his move for the lead at turn 15, sliding underneath Guevara but a poor exit from the corner caused the Spaniard to shunt the back of his bike. It was a scary moment, but fortunately both riders stayed upright.

The constant battling at the front allowed McPhee to latch onto the lead group and it wasn’t long before he was in a tussle with teammate Sasaki. With just a few laps remaining Garcia led from Masia, Foggia, Sasaki, McPhee and Moreira.

Taiyo Furusato crashed at the start of lap 16 as Foggia moved up to second, hot on Garcia’s tail. With just one lap remaining, victory was there for the taking.

Foggia took the lead at turn 10 but it only lasted for a matter of seconds before Masia muscled his way to the front. Moments later McPhee capitalised on the melee and snatched the top spot.

There were desperate lunges into the final corner, but the Scot held his nerve and the lead to take his fourth win in Moto3, in what is expected to be his penultimate Grand Prix. Sasaki was second to secure a 1-2 for Max Racing with Garcia in third.

The results mean Garcia retains second place in the standings with 241 points, Foggia stays in third with 233 and Sasaki is just behind in fourth with 227. Only one round remains in the 2022 season, the Grand Prix of Valencia in a fortnights’ time.

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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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Japanese Moto3 Grand Prix Preview

Ayumu Sasaki Japanese GP

Round 15 at Aragón had huge ramifications for the Moto3 title race. Now it’s Japan’s turn to offer more twists to the championship tale.

The wonderful Mobility Resort Motegi hosts round 16 of the 2022 season this weekend (24/25/26 September). It’s the first time MotoGP has been back to Japan since 2019, and marks the start of four flyaways in the next five weeks.

A lot has changed since the last visit to Motegi, most of the current Moto3 riders have never raced there, including championship leader Izan Guevara. After a sensational weekend in Aragón, the Spaniard has a 33 point advantage over his closest challenger, teammate Sergio Garcia.

Whilst Guevara’s lead looks insurmountable, Garcia does have a slight advantage having raced at Motegi in 2019, where he finished 5th. He wasn’t the only current Moto3 rider to finish that race in the top 10. Tatsuki Suzuki, John McPhee, Jaume Masia, and Andrea Migno also had strong finishes.

The 2019 event was a race to forget for Dennis Foggia. The Italian finished 23rd, almost 33 seconds behind the leader. He does still have a chance to take the Moto3 crown, albeit a slim one. Having shown flashes of excellence this season, the inconsistency of old has resurfaced, and the gap to Guevara now stands at 58 points with just five races remaining.

A rider desperate to impress his home crowd will be Max Racing’s Ayumu Sasaki. The 21-year-old has shown fantastic pace this season, and has established himself as one of the frontrunners in Moto3. Whilst it’s extremely unlikely he’ll win the championship at this stage, he is certainly worth keeping an eye on for the rest of the season.

Eighteen year-old Kanta Hamada is set to make his Grand Prix debut, replacing the the injured Alberto Surra for the Rivacold Snipers Team. The Japanese rider has previously competed in the Asia Talent Cup, and should be familiar with the circuit at Motegi.

There were doubts about whether or not the race would take place last week as Japan was hit by Typhoon Nanmadol. Millions were told to evacuate, but fortunately the storm has dissipated, and the Island has begun the recovery process.

Rain is forecast for the entire weekend, adding intrigue to what should be an exciting event. Fans in the UK will need to have their alarm clocks primed as the race is scheduled to start at 12:00pm local time (04:00am GMT).

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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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Moto3: Sasaki Dominates The Austrian GP

Moto3 Austria 2022 Ayumu Sasaki

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.

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Moto3: Masia wins Chaotic Clash in COTA

Jaume Masia has come out on top, winning in COTA, ahead of a seven-way battle that rumbled on for much of the race. He was joined on the podium by Dennis Foggia and Andrea Migno.

It was the experienced Moto3 riders who came out on top at the Grand Prix of the Americas today. The chaotic race saw seven riders battling for only three podium positions for most of the race. Eventually, it was Jaume Masia who came out on top, taking the lead on the final lap.

Masia hasn’t won a race since the first round of the 2021 season, making it an emotional return to the top step of the podium for the Spanish rider. Having spent last year in the shadow of his teammate and eventual 2021 Moto3 champion, Pedro Acosta, this win will provide him with some much-needed confidence.

On the podium were fellow Italian riders Dennis Foggia, in second, and pole-sitter Andrea Migno, in third.

As the race commenced, it was Deniz Oncu who took an early lead, passing Migno at the first corner. He took rookie Diogo Moreira with him as he leapt from his starting position of sixth up to second. Oncu and Moreira were then battling for the lead and came to be side-by-side on the long straight. As they crossed the line to start the second lap, Moreira swerves across in to Oncu’s path. Oncu was forced to back off and Moreira stole the lead.

Further back, Kaito Toba enjoyed a good start as he leapt up from eighth to fifth. However, Scott Ogden had a more difficult start as he was shuffled back to 17th, despite claiming his best qualifying result and starting the race in 12th.

Foggia and Masia also struggled and, by lap 4, they were quickly shuffled back to 10th and 11th despite starting second and fifth respectively.

On the same lap, Oncu took the lead back from Moreira. Shortly after, Xavier Artigas got the best of both of them and flew his way up in to the lead. Two laps later and Moreira was back in the lead of the race, only to be overtaken by Oncu shortly after.

At this point, a number of other riders joined the leading pack, stating their intentions for the win. Championship leader Sergio Garcia closed up to the leading three but then clashed with Daniel Holgado, who crashed in to him on the final corner. Both riders were able to rejoin the race but Garcia eventually retired on lap 13 and Holgado crashed again on the final lap of the race. Holgado will be disappointed with his race result today, as he makes his return from injury.

Lap 8 saw Ayumu Sasaki and Masia join the leading group, taking second and third respectively behind Oncu.

For much of the rest of the race, seven riders were battling at the front of the pack – these riders were Masia, Sasaki, Oncu, Moreira, Foggia, Artigas, and Migno.

As the grid started their final lap, Migno was leading ahead of Masia in second and Foggia in third. Moreira crashed at the first corner of the lap – he was trying to hard to make his way through the leading pack and showed his inexperience with a rookie error that ruined his hard work.

Due to a number of incidents around the circuit, yellow flags were hampering the progress of most riders and left it difficult to find a way past Migno. However, down the long straight, Masia made his move and took the lead. He went out wide and found himself on the rumble strips, giving some hope to Migno. However, as Migno tried to make his way around the outside of Masia at turn 19, giving it everything he had in an attempt to win, he ran wide and let Foggia through the inside to take second. Masia remained unbeatable out in front and crossed the line in first.

Just missing out on a podium finish was Sasaki in fourth, Oncu in fifth and Artigas in sixth.

Izan Guevara was deemed to have jumped the start and was given a double long lap penalty. As this wasn’t served quickly enough, the penalty then went up to three long laps. This should have ruined his race but he was able to climb back up the field and ended the day in seventh.

The top ten was rounded out by Carlos Tatay, Ricciardo Rossi and Tatsuki Suzuki in eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.

Championship Standings

Thanks to Foggia’s second-place finish today, he has now jumped to the top of the championship standings. He leads Garcia, in second, by 16 points. Migno is in third ahead of Guevara in fourth. Oncu is sitting in fifth ahead of today’s winner, Masia, in sixth.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

16 year old Pedro Acosta, Red Bull Ajo KTM, takes chequered flag in Qatar

The date 4th April 2021 may well go down in motorcycle racing history as the day that Pedro Acosta announced himself to the world. Still only 16 years old, the Spaniard pulled off one of the all-time great rides in any class in modern memory.

Pedro Acosta winner of the second round of the 2021 Moto3 Championship at Losail. Darryn Binder came second and in third place Niccolò Antonelli. Image courtesy of Rob Gray (Polarity Photo)|KTM.

Fans look back at 18th August 1996 when Valentino Rossi won his first 125cc Grand Prix at Brno or 6th June 2010 when Marc Marquez took his first victory in the same class at Mugello. You have to wonder in years to come just how historic the second race of the 2021 season will be in the career of young Acosta.

A rookie winning a race is nothing new, even in only his second race. What stands out though is that Acosta started from the pit lane along with six other riders, some eleven seconds after the lights went out to start the race. As the eighteen laps ticked away, Acosta and Romano Fenati (who finished tenth) dragged the late starters up to the main pack with seven laps remaining. Once there, Acosta picked his way through each rider and when he hit the front, and you might think he had over-used his tyres, he still pulled away. Darryn Binder nearly caught him by the end but the Red Bull rider held on to win by 0.039 seconds.

Of course, there is no guarantee that Acosta will be a star of the future as it was a young Fenati that finished second in his debut at Qatar in 2012 before winning in Jerez at the next round and he’s still in Moto3 at the age of 25 (largely through issues of his own creation).

Binder often featured in the leading pack and was so close to his second ever win. He was lucky to avoid being taken out by an incident involving his teammate John McPhee and Jeremy Alcoba however. With four laps to go, Binder led into turn one from Alcoba  who nearly clipped the back of the South African. Alcoba went over the handlebars and his cartwheeling Honda took out the innocent McPhee who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Scot reacted badly to being taken out of the race two weeks in a row and squared up to the Gresini rider before aiming a kick at his Spanish crown jewels. Both riders will receive a pit lane start at the next round at Portimao in Portugal on 18th April, with McPhee penalised one thousand Euros and 10 seconds and Alcoba one thousand Euros and five seconds.

The last step on the podium went to Nico Antonelli who won here five years ago. The Italian started twelfth and positioned himself in the top six with a lap to go. Fortunately for him, last week’s winner Jaume Masia took Gabriel Rodrigo wide half way around the lap and Antonelli popped up to fourth. The 25-year-old then passed his compatriot Andrea Migno for third and beat him to the line by 0.032 seconds. Masia came home seventh while Argentine rider Rodrigo was only thirteenth.

Kaito Toba, who won here in 2019, finished fifth for his second top ten finish in a row with the rookie taking his best finish so far with sixth. Ayumu Sasaki took his best Losail result in seventh followed by fellow Japanese rider Ryusel Yamanaka who took his best ever finish with eighth in his twentieth start. With Tatsuki Suzuki finishing twelfth and Yuki Kunii fifteenth (his first points finish) there were five Japanese riders in the top fifteen for the first time since Jerez 2019.

RESULTS (TOP 15)

1 – Pedro Acosta – SPA – Red Bull Ajo KTM – 25
2 – Darryn Binder – RSA – Petronas Sprinta Honda – 20
3 – Nico Antonelli – ITA – Avintia Esponsorama KTM – 16
4 – Andrea Migno – ITA – Rivacold Snipers Honda – 13
5 – Kaito Toba – JAP – CIP Green Power KTM – 11
6 – Izan Guevara – SPA – Gaviota Aspar Gas Gas – 10
7 – Ayumu Sasaki – JAP – Red Bull Tech 3 KTM – 9
8 – Ryusel Yamanaka — JAP – CarXpert PruestelGP KTM – 8
9 – Jaume Masia – SPA – Red Bull Ajo KTM – 7
10 – Romano Fenati – ITA – Sterilgarda Max Husqvarna – 6
11 – Jason Dupasquier – SUI – CarXpert PruestelGP KTM – 5

12 – Tatsuki Suzuki – JAP – SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda – 4
13 – Gabriel Rodrigo – ARG – Indonesian Gresini Honda – 3
14 – Max Kofler – AUT – CIP Green Power KTM – 2
15 – Yuki Kunii – JAP – Honda Team Asia Honda – 1

STANDINGS (TOP 15)

1 – Pedro Acosta – SPA – Red Bull Ajo KTM – 45
2 – Darryn Binder – RSA – Petronas Sprinta Honda – 36
3 – Jaume Masia – SPA – Red Bull Ajo KTM – 32
4 – Nico Antonelli – ITA – Avintia Esponsorama KTM – 26
5 – Izan Guevara – SPA – Gaviota Aspar Gas Gas – 19
6 – Kaito Toba – JAP – CIP Green Power KTM – 18
7 – Gabriel Rodrigo – ARG – Indonesian Gresini Honda – 14
8 = Sergio Garcia – SPA – Gaviota Aspar Gas Gas – 13
8 = Andrea Migno – ITA – Rivacold Snipers Honda – 13
10 – Tatsuki Suzuki – JAP – SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda – 12
11 = Romano Fenati – ITA – Sterilgarda Max Husqvarna – 11

11 = Jason Dupasquier – SUI – CarXpert PruestelGP KTM – 11
13 – Ryusel Yamanaka — JAP – CarXpert PruestelGP KTM – 10
14 – Ayumu Sasaki – JAP – Red Bull Tech 3 KTM – 9
15 – Carlos Tatay – SPA – Avintia Esponsorama KTM – 4

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