Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Match point Masia: it’s crunch time in the Moto3 title chase

Moto3 - Qatar Gp - PreviewFive riders, 50 points, two to go. That’s the state of play in the fascinating 2023 Moto3™ title race as Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) heads to Qatar knowing there’s a chance he could be a World Champion on Sunday, with Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) still acting as the chief chaser after drama unfolded for the trio playing catch up in Malaysia.

Sasaki’s P2 in Sepang saw the Japanese star claw back four points on Masia to leave the gap between the top two sitting at 13. We’ll find out how crucial those will be in due course, but Sasaki – who was a runaway leader at the 2022 Qatar GP before a technical problem arose – knows that shrinking that gap again in Qatar is all that matters. If the margin between the duo rises to 25 points or more in Masia’s favour, then the latter will be Champion.

That’s if David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team), Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) aren’t within 25 points of the Honda rider come Sunday afternoon either. The former pairing crashed out in Malaysia to see their title dreams take a huge dent, while Öncü thought he was out of it altogether after he was taken out by teammate Jose Antonio Rueda. P12 meant the Turk was mathematically ruled out, but a post-race penalty for David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) promoted Öncü to P11 – a slender lifeline as he’s now 50 off the top.

The talk will be all about the Championship in Qatar, but the likes of our newest Grand Prix winner Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) will be hoping to steal the headlines once more. The Dutchman should be a key ally to teammate Sasaki in the final two races, will the tactics change now the victory has been collected?

A huge weekend lies ahead in the lightweight class, with Sunday’s showdown beginning at 17:00 local time (GMT+3). Tune in!

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