Tears of joy and tears of despair, Termas de Rio Honda had it all as Jaume Masia claims his first ever Moto3 victory as a late mistake from Gabriel Rodrigo cost him a home podium.
Masia’s day didn’t get off to the best of starts as he was involved in a tangle with countryman Sergío Garcia during the warm-up session which saw him tending to Garcia as he lay stranded on the floor. Luckily, Masia was only left bruised from the clash but as far as bad omens go, this was a huge one.
The Macaulay Culkin look-a-like got a less than ideal start which saw him drop down several places, but his poor getaway wasn’t enough to keep the determined youngster down as he battled throughout the race to be one of the eight race leaders before he claimed his first victory. Masia played his cards right, recovering from both a rough start and a mistake mid-race when he ran wide to claim that first glorious win and it was clear to everyone how much that first win meant to him as he sobbed uncontrollably with joy as his team and fellow riders congratulated him. This first win comes after his season started horribly as he nursed a preseason injury going into Qatar which hindered his qualifying performance before being wiped out during the first lap of the race. Masia’s performance showed exactly why he was tipped to be one of the title contenders for the year.
Darryn Binder snatched second position after making up a phenomenal 18 positions from the qualifying position of 20th. The South African rider used his classic aggressive style to battle this way through the pack and into the lead group where he battled tooth and nail to the front where he chopped and changed with multiple riders for the lead position however he was unable to hold off Masia during the final lap and had to settle for second which he was hardly upset about, celebrating with his CIP Green Power team and teammate Tom Booth-Amos as if it was a win.
Snipers Team rider Tony Arbolino rounded out the top three with his maiden podium appearance in third. Arbolino showed exceptional pace and determination after getting a horrible start which dropped him way down into 13th position. It wasn’t long before he clawed his way back up through the grid, reaching sixth position after five laps and getting stuck in with the rest of the front group and even leading the race on 16 occasions. The Italian may have missed out on his chance of a top step but he was obviously overcome with emotions during his Parc Ferme interviews as he appeared bleary-eyed and choked up as he described his race.
SIC58 Squadra Corse rider Niccolò Antonelli narrowly missed out on a podium finish to finish in fourth. Antonelli briefly led the race during the opening lap but dropped back significantly as the race unfolded but managed to bring his Honda-powered machine home to take his best race position since Qatar 2018. Ayumu Sasaki claimed an impressive fifth position ahead of Gabriel Rodrigo. A heartbroken Rodrigo was hoping to at least take a podium in front of his home crowd but a mistake during the final few corners saw him tap the rear of Binder’s KTM which pushed him down the order. The mistake ruined Rodrigo’s chances of a home celebration, not that his adoring crowd seemed to mind as they cheered furiously for the Argentinian rider when he was shown post-race.
Title favourite Lorenzo Dalla Porta will be less than happy with his seventh-place finish after he was another rider to lead the race for the latter parts of the race but a podium finish wasn’t meant to be this weekend. Dennis Foggia put in a roaring performance to make up 14 places to finish in eighth ahead of Leopard Racing’s Marcos Ramirez in ninth.
Qatar race winner Kaito Toba finished in 10th position to maintain his top spot in the championship standings by two points as he finished ahead of Andrea Migno in 11th and Aron Canet in 12th. Canet’s day was a mixed bag as he led the majority of the race but dropped off towards the end before finally having to settle for 12th overall. Tatsuki Suzuki made an unexpected and brief appearance as the race leader but could only manage 13th ahead of Celestino Vietti who made up seven positions to claim 14th and Raúl Fernández who rounded out the points scorers in 15th.
Romano Fenati flew under the radar for the entire race, failing to really make any headway up the field and eventually finishing 16th, nine places below where he had qualified. Honda Team Asia’s rookie Ai Ogura also struggled to make up any places after dropping out of the rather large lead group and ended the day in 17th ahead of Tom Booth-Amos who had a fairly quiet but successful race compared to his debut. The Brit showed a lot of improvement as he made up nine places to take 18th-place.
Albert Arenas’ stand in Aleix Viu managed 19th place in his first race. The Catalan rider suffered a huge crash in FP3 earlier in the weekend and qualified in 25th but was able to move his way into 19th-place. Viu was drafted in for the weekend after Arenas suffered a lacerated spleen and fractured rib during a training, hopefully, Arenas will be fit to rejoin the Moto3 grid soon enough.
Makar Yurchenko was able to make a significant improvement from his 29th qualifying position to finish in 20th, one place behind where he finished last year. John McPhee had briefly led the race but was swallowed up by the pack and was making an exceptional comeback until a broken rear brake caused him to collide with Alonso Lopez, wiping Lopez out of the race and dropping him way down the order. Unfortunately, he was only to finish in 21st, a far cry from the race win that many had tipped him for. Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 rider Riccardo Rossi struggled again as he tries to find his feet and finished in 22nd ahead of Kazuki Mazaki in 23rd.
The Redox PruestelGP pair of Jakub Kornfeil and Filip Salač fell foul to turn 13 as both riders crashed within two laps of one another. The pair were able to rejoin but couldn’t make any headway seeing Kornfeil finish in 24th and Salač in 25th. Can Öncü rounded out the race finishers in 26th. The ValenciaGP race winner suffered an early crash at turn one and was able to rejoin but, unfortunately, he struggled to make an impact and ultimately settled for 26th.
Alonso Lopez and Vicente Perez were the only non-finishers of the day. Lopez was wiped out by McPhee in an unavoidable accident due to a broken brake on McPhee’s bike and Perez suffered a high side crash which left him lying in the middle of the track. The Spaniard was taken to the medical centre for checks and has thankfully been declared fit after the incident.
Estrella Galicia rider Sergio García was declared unfit to race after he suffered a concussion during a warm-up crash. The Spaniard was quickly sidelined from the afternoon’s race after stating he couldn’t remember anything about the crash. A very unfortunate way to start his first ever Moto3 weekend but we look forward to seeing him soon in COTA.
Full results here.
As another year at turbulent Termas draws to a close, we look towards the bright lights and BBQ in Austin for more on-track action.
Who knows what will happen but, you know what they say, everything’s bigger in Texas so does that apply to the drama too?