With Binder crowned Champion in Aragon, Australia will see the battle for second turn pivotal
Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) took his second career victory at the Twin Ring Motegi, and in doing so the Italian gained a good 25 point haul to add to his tally towards second in the Championship – with key rival and Aragon winner Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) crashing out and not scoring. Now clear of the Spaniard, Bastianini took a serious advantage on race day in Japan – but there are still three rounds remaining in 2016 and a maximum of 75 points on offer.
Bastianini’s last lap lunge in Motegi saw him turn the tables on newly-crowned Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), after the Italian had found himself on a good podium run but with a victory drought. Now a winner once again, the Gresini rider has some breathing space over Navarro – but in the shuffling pack of Moto3™, a buffer can disappear in an instant.
Navarro also suffered a dislocated shoulder when he crashed out in Japan, and the Spaniard will have to be declared fit to race in Australia. Last year, he was fourth in his first full season, however – behind Brad Binder.
Binder took a podium in 2015 in P3, as his future 2017 teammate Miguel Oliveira took the win in his final Moto3™ campaign. With the pressure off and now somewhat transferred to the men locked in the fight over second, the 2016 Champion can push as hard as he wants in Australia – but will have his two front end washouts from Friday in Motegi on his mind.
The fight for Rookie of the Year and P4 in the title is still locked together, with Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR 46) leading the charge after crossing the line in P4 in Japan and then being promoted to the podium as Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia) was disqualified for being under the weight limit. Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) isn’t far behind his Italian 2015 FIM CEV Repsol rival either, and the Austrian GP winner also has Bastianini’s rookie teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio for close company. With three races to go, mistakes will now heavily penalize any of the three.
One Australian should be on the grid at his home race, with Matt Barton putting in a wildcard appearance for Suus Honda – as he did in 2015. The youngster’s second appearance at his home Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit will see Barton hoping to take a solid finish for the home crowd.
The pressure is on, and Moto3™ hit the tarmac first on Friday morning for FP1, as Bastianini and Navarro square up once again – this time for the title of runner up.
Moto3™ World Championship Standings
1 – Brad Binder (RSA) KTM 269 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