Veteran he may be, but the signs didn’t seem to be pointing to a Niccolo Antonelli victory in Jerez before we arrived – nor to a SIC58 Squadra Corse 1-2. Nevertheless, that’s what happened and Moto3™ got another shake up in the standings, as well as making some emotional history as SIC58 Squadra Corse took their first win 15 years after the late Marco Simoncelli’s first Grand Prix victory. So as we head for Le Mans in the wake of another surprise race winner then, do track records even matter in 2019?
Antonelli will likely be one of the riders hoping so, despite just winning at a track where he’d not always had the most success. Le Mans sees the Italian boast one of the best records, with three top five finishes including last year, and that bodes well as he aims to outgun Championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). Canet, whom he trails by a single point, has a podium, a fourth place and a top ten to his name in France for his part though, so there’s not much in it – like in the standings.
There is, however, one rider who has previously won at Le Mans: Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers Team). But as the rounds roll on and that statistic keeps showing up, the Italian’s season so far remains a difficult one. In Jerez he ran on avoiding Ramirez’ crash through no fault of his own, so can he turn it around at Le Mans, where he has a win from 2015 and a podium from 2016?
A few more veterans to look out for could be Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) and Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP). On two previous appearances at Le Mans Ramirez has taken a fourth place and a podium, meanwhile Migno and Kornfeil are consistent presences in the top ten in recent years in France – and Migno was on the podium last season. That’s not forgetting last year’s winner Albert Arenas (Bester Capital Dubai), who impressed on his return from injury in Jerez as he took fifth.
There are some riders whose 2019 form can’t be ignored, too: Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) needs to bounce back, Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) shows no sign of disappearing from the fight at the front and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) will have a bittersweet aftertaste from Jerez after taking pole then dropping down to eighth.
Track records, building confidence, quick-shifting fortunes and just pure skill are all key ingredients in Moto3™. Who will find the best recipe for success at Le Mans? Find out in the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France on the 19th May.
1 – Aron Canet (SPA – KTM) – 58
2 – Niccolo Antonelli (ITA – Honda) – 57
3 – Jaume Masia (SPA – KTM) – 45
4 – Kaito Toba (JPN – Honda) – 41
5 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) – 40