The masters of slipstreaming hit Malaysia
The Australian GP would have been a dream for Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), had he not already wrapped up the World Championship in Aragon – with none of the key protagonists below him in the title fight taking points. After a red flag brought out by a crash for John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) that also collected Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3), Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0), none of them scored – and neither did any of the riders locked in the battle to be Rookie of the Year.
Those rookies – Joan Mir (Leopard Racing), Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) – all crashed out in Australia, and Francesco Bagnaia (Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra) was another affected in one of those on-track incidents: leaving it status quo in the title fight nearer the front.
Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) and Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) were the riders to gain. As Binder disappeared, Locatelli had an impressive ride as the next man on the track – ahead of the 16 rider train behind fighting for the podium. It was rookie Canet who won that fight over a stunning performance from Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate), and the Spanish rookie will be full of confidence now he’s ticked off his first World Championship podium.
Last year, Brad Binder took second behind eventual Championship runner-up Miguel Oliveira, with Jorge Navarro also on the podium. Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) was a close fourth from pole, and track records can sometimes prove important –but they can also easily be changed.
Sepang International Circuit will prove a big challenge. Bastianini is suffering a cracked vertebra but still en route to Malaysia as he defends his lead in P2 from Navarro, and many others are bruised after the Australian GP – proving a case of advantage Binder in some ways once again. But with the two long straights in Sepang – as well as the now adverse camber Turn 15 that separates them – Moto3™ will remain anyone’s game as the masters of slipstreaming take on the venue.
Pitlane opens at 9:00 local time (GMT +8) on Friday in Malaysia, as the scars from the fight in Australia are reset and another incredible battle prepared.
Moto3™ World Championship Standings
1 – Brad Binder (RSA) KTM 294 points
2 – Enea Bastianini (ITA) HONDA 164 points
3 – Jorge Navarro (SPA) HONDA 143 points
4 – Nicolo Bulega (ITA) KTM 129 points
5 – Joan Mir (SPA) KTM 124 points