The 2023 FIM Moto3™ World Championship has been decided in dramatic fashion after an action-packed Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar saw Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) fight his way to victory in one of the most eventful races of the season.
The Spaniard did not have it easy by any means as rookie sensation David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) was snapping at his heels on the final lap, but the Colombian couldn’t quite find a way through and neither could Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who came third the hard way: fighting his way through the pack after a jump start for the Turk saw him serve a double Long Lap penalty. The race made some headlines for a number of moves in the title battle, however…
Tensions were high as the Moto3™ riders lined up on the grid ahead of the first match point of 2022. The pressure was weighing down on the shoulders of Masia as he prepared for his first chance to become a World Champion, and with Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) six places ahead on the grid,
The lights went out and it was Öncü took the holeshot but an obvious jump start for the Turk would come back to haunt him later on. The elbows were firmly out on the first lap as Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) led across the line the first time around. The Spaniard had Öncü, Sasaki, Alonso, and Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets -MSI) for company.
Öncü was then awarded a double long lap penalty for that Jump Start, serving his first straight away as he dropped down the order. But he would be back.
Meanwhile, Masia was on a charge from 10th place on the grid and put himself well within the mix. The chaos continued to unfold as positions were swapping and changing from corner to corner. A harsh move came from Masia early on as he forced himself and Sasaki wide, with both losing out but the latter most definitely more.
It was deja vu with 10 laps remaining as Masia made the same move again on Sasaki as he tried to stuff it up the inside but sent the pair of them wide once again as they dropped down the order to fifth and seventh. For that, the #5 got a conduct warning too. Still, it didn’t take long for the pair to climb their way back to the front before Sasaki reaped his revenge and pushed Masia wide to line up behind the now-leading Holgado.
As the laps ticked the bar-bashing continued as Holgado, Masia, Sasaki, and Alonso swapped and changed positions. David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) and Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) joined the party ahead of the final six laps with 15 bikes still in contention for victory.
Masia hit the front with four laps to go as Sasaki made sure to put himself just behind the Spaniard. They came across the line one lap later and Sasaki made his move with Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) now up into the top three. It didn’t last long for Sasaki as the Japanese rider got swallowed up by the chasing pack and dropped like a stone down to eighth, however.
It went from bad for worse for Sasaki then, with as the front five broke away with the number 71 stuck battling with Adrian Fernandez (Leopard Racing), Masia’s teammate, with Masia still leading the way.
The final lap came around and Öncü was the rider on the march, joining the top three with Alonso and Rossi still in podium contention.
No one could touch Masia on the final lap though, with the Leopard rider sealing it with a win as Sasaki tried everything he could to recover positions. Then, a big moment halted his progress to P6 and that was that: Masia was crowned the 2023 FIM Moto3™ World Champion.
Alonso tried everything he could to get the better of the Leopard machine ahead of him, but it wasn’t meant to be for the Colombian as he was forced to settle for second ahead of Öncü. Despite his efforts in the latter stages, Rossi just missed out on a podium position as he came across the line just behind Öncu in P4. Over a second further back was Vicente Perez (BOE Motorsports) who got the better of Sasaki following the Japanese rider’s last-lap moment.
Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) was also in that battle and took seventh, with the Italian leading Kaito Toba (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Holgado, and Veijer across the line with the Dutchman rounding out the top 10.
Romano Fenati (Rivacold Snipers Team) finished 1.5s further back in 11th with Muñoz, Joel Kelso (CFMoto Racing PruestelGP), Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia) and Ivan Ortola rounding out the top 15, the latter after a double long lap too.
With the title decided the Moto3™ season now heads to the final round of the 2023 season in Valencia. The Circuit Ricardo Tormo always throws up a barnstormer, so make sure you don’t miss a beat from the Gran Premi Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana with the action set to kick off in just one week’s time!
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