A podium first time out is an impressive feat, but following it up by becoming the first ever Moto3™ rider to win from pitlane raises the stakes somewhat. And so, rookie sensation Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) arrives on the Algarve with the hype machine in overdrive and deservedly so, looking to maintain or extend his position as the Moto3™ World Championship leader. In some sarcastically welcome news for everyone else on the grid, Portimão is also the venue where he took his first win in the FIM Moto3™ Junior World Championship. So can the streak continue?
In the ‘yes’ corner, Acosta’s win on the Algarve and the ease by which he learned and raced at Losail, a new track to him, say he’ll be a key contender if not the outright favourite. In the ‘no’ corner, Moto3™ rarely sees back to back winners and the competition is incredibly fierce, with closest top 15 records seeming to tumble nearly every weekend. The riders forced into playing the supporting cast last time out will want some of the spotlight back, not least of all Acosta’s teammate Jaume Masia and the man second overall, Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing).
Portimão all-time lap record holder Masia made a few errors in Doha and he’ll want to reassert some authority, and although he didn’t finish last year in Portugal he had some serious speed. So too did Binder and the South African did finish, in sixth despite a Long Lap Penalty, with only three riders who remain on the Moto3™ grid ahead of him: Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing), Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) and Sergio Garcia (GASGAS Valresa Aspar Team). One of them is unlikely to repeat his challenge as Alcoba has a pitlane start on a five second delay for his antics with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) last time out, but Foggia and Garcia could be ones to watch. Foggia, after all, came second in 2020 despite two Long Lap Penalties and the Leopard rider remains on the same machine.
Rookie Izan Guevara (GASGAS Valresa Aspar Team) also merits a mention as the impressive Spaniard is now fifth in the standings and has experience of Portimão from the FIM Moto3™ JWCh, as does Adrian Fernandez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and we saw a big step forward from the number 31 last time out for much of the race. On the other side of the coin, experienced runners Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) have proven speed at the venue as well as they attempt to make a bigger dent on podium fight, having both started from the first two rows of the grid in Portugal last year and having both not yet got in the groove they want from 2021.
A rookie on a roll, the veterans looking to fight back and the awesome rollercoaster of the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve await us in Round 3 for Moto3™. Don’t miss it, because the highlights reel for the lightweight class is just the whole race. Tune in at the slightly different time of 11:20 local time – that’s GMT +1 – to watch the freight train thunder round Portimão.
Moto3™ Championship top five:
1 Pedro Acosta – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM – 45
2 Darryn Binder – Petronas Sprinta Racing – Honda – 36
3 Jaume Masia – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM – 32
4 Niccolo Antonelli – Avintia Esponsorama Moto3 – KTM – 26
5 Izan Guevara – GASGAS Valresa Aspar Team – GASGAS – 19
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