Based on pre-season testing, it was no surprise to see a Red Bull KTM Ajo 1-2 and Binder on the podium. But will they be able to repeat the feat?
We knew we were in for a rollercoaster season opener, as is always the case in Moto3™, but the Qatar GP really was a welcome return from the lightweight class. With close battles throughout the field and, of course, a drag to the line, it started the season in style – as did the three riders on the podium.
Winner Jaume Masia impressed to win on his return to KTM and first race with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team, looking calm and collected after also setting the timesheets alight in testing. His teammate Pedro Acosta raised a good few eyebrows in second too, as the rookie had shown some great speed ahead of lights out but fought it out like a pro to take a debut podium in his debut race. Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing), meanwhile, found himself in Q1 and then shot to pole before battling home to third, and the three riders on the rostrum almost made it look easy… so who can make sure they don’t do it again?
The Moto3™ freight train can be a lottery, so it’s far from a done deal. It remained anyone’s game until late on and a good few riders were in with a shout at the win, now likely looking for some revenge in the TISSOT Grand Prix of Doha. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS Gaviota Aspar Team) is on a roll of top four finishes, and Gabriel Rodrigo (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) got very stuck in and Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) seemed to shoot to the front from nowhere. The Italian has already won at the track too. Rookie Izan Guevara (GASGAS Gaviota Aspar Team) impressed and will want to move forward on race day after qualifying on the front row, and Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power) – another former winner at Qatar – won’t be content to settle.
And what about those with a slightly more complex narrative in Round 1? Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) qualified dead last in his worst grid position for five years, but he shot up the field into the top ten as he returns from illness, having missed preseason testing. In opposite fortunes, Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) had a stunner of a race until it all came apart on the final lap and he’ll want to make amends, as will Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) as the Italian jumped the start and had to do two Long Laps…
That’s something rookie Xavier Artigas (Leopard Racing) is now also facing in the Doha GP after the Spaniard made a stunning start and then overcooked it, taking down some key names in Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team), Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) and former Qatar podium finisher John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing). That’s a mistake he’ll want to avoid repeating, and Migno, Alcoba and McPhee will want to avoid it too. If luck shines better for the trio in the Doha GP, they should be interesting additions to the battle with their experience and speed. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) too as he fell foul of a move from Carlos Tatay (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3), with the Italian expected in the fight at the front. Jason Dupasquier (CarXpert PrüstelGP) also deserves a shoutout for his first top ten, something he’ll be looking to build on as we head into another race weekend on now very familiar turf.
18 laps of Moto3™ mayhem – in the best sense of the word – await in the TISSOT Grand Prix of Doha. It’s advantage Masia, Acosta and Binder on the way in, but everything can change on a dime in the lightweight class so tune in for more at 17:00 (GMT +3) on Sunday.
Moto3™ Championship top five:
1 Jaume Masia – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM – 25
2 Pedro Acosta – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM – 20
3 Darryn Binder – Petronas Sprinta Racing – Honda – 16
4 Sergio Garcia – GASGAS Gaviota Aspar Team – GASGAS – 13
5 Gabriel Rodrigo – Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3 – Honda – 11
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