It was chaos at the Circuits of the Americas with close fights, multiple leaders and some unexpected faces fighting within the top group, but it was Canet who claimed the top stop and the maiden victory for Max Biaggi’s Sterilgarda Max Racing Team.
Canet started Sunday with a point to prove after a late Q2 race saw him unable to improve on sixth position but he wasn’t going to stay there for long. The Valencian fought bitterly throughout the race to move his way up the pack until he was within the podium places with six laps remaining. It wasn’t long before Canet pushed forward into the lead, putting some more needed air between himself and the chasing field. Canet’s victory moves him up the championship standings into joint first alongside Masia with 45 points.
Argentina winner Masia looked to be struggling this weekend as he dropped down the grid to sixth position from fourth during the first lap but it wasn’t where his woes ended. He continued to drop positions, landing himself in 17thposition at one point, however, as the laps ticked down, he rocketed his way back up the field and into the points. By the penultimate lap, Masia had clambered back into fourth and, as the front group rounded the final few corners, he moved into second position, almost making contact with his teammate Andrea Migno in the process.
Migno rounded out the top point scores. The Italian rider made up a spectacular 10 places to claim his first podium since Le Man last year after he qualified all the way down in 13thposition. Migno had been gradually picking off the pack as the race unfolded, making up place after place until he was within the front group with six laps remaining. By the final lap, Migno had made his way into second position and was holding off Gabriel Rodrigo but, during the final few corners, Masia made a late, aggressive charge and the pair nearly made contact, knocking Migno back into fourth position. Luckily, Migno was able to make a last-ditch attempt to get onto the podium and he snatched third-position away from Rodrigo by a tiny 0.027s.
Rodrigo’s heartbreak continued as he narrowly missed out on yet another podium and was forced to settle for fourth position ahead of poleman Niccolò Antonelli in fifth. Antonelli was unable to hold onto his front-running position, even briefly dropping back to 11thposition before he climbed back into fifth. Argentina podium finisher Tony Arbolino made up 12 places from his terrible qualifying position of 18thto finish sixth but was unable to repeat any of the magic he’d performance in Termas.
Rookie Raúl Fernández dropped five places from his second-place qualifying position but was still able to finish well within the points to take seventh ahead of Alonso Lopez in eighth and Celestino Vietti in ninth. Dennis Foggia claimed 10thposition as rookie Ai Ogura took 11thand five points.
It was a weekend to forget for the Leopard Racing duo of Marcos Ramirez and Lorenzo Dalla Porta as they finished in 12thand 13threspectively, a far cry from one of the top spots title favourite Dalla Porta was expecting as he entered the weekend. Petronas Sprinta Racing rider John McPhee was another rider who suffered a nightmare weekend, dropping back from eighth to 14th, only managing to salvage two points. Darryn Binder rounded out the last of the points scorers in 15thwith one point. The South African had been running well within the podium places early on in the race but dropped off as the laps unfolded but, luckily, still finishing within the points.
Kazuki Masaki ended the weekend in 16thplace ahead of Vicente Perez in 17th. Perez was lucky to be able to ride this weekend after a crash during qualifying saw him stretched off but, thankfully, he was left uninjured except for a few bruises. Makar Yurchenko ended his second visit to COTA in 18thahead of the non-golfing Sergio Garcia in 19thand Czech rookie Filip Salač in 20th, leaving Riccardo Rossi in 21stto round out the last of the race finishers.
It was a day of crashes as COTA claimed eight riders to the bumps and curves. Can Öncü was the first of the crashers after only two laps. The Turkish youngster had also crashed during the warm-up session, making it another weekend to forget for him. Kaito Toba had come into the weekend leading the world championship but after a disaster in Q1 and a crash at turn 18 putting him out of the race, he soon had to relinquish the lead to someone else.
Romano Fenati’s return to the Moto3 grid has been a horror show so far as he’s failed to make any kind of impression on the standings and this weekend’s DNF hasn’t helped. A coming together at turn 18 for Fenati and Jakub Kornfeil saw the pair’s weekend finish early and Kornfeil requiring surgery on his collarbone.
Tom Booth-Amos suffered a disappointing blow on his special weekend as he crashed out with only seven laps remaining. The Brit replaced his #69 with a special Nicky Hayden style tribute after seeking permission from the Hayden family to run the number this weekend. He had been hoping to finish within the points as a tribute to the American icon, however, just racing with his famous number at an American circuit is tribute enough to the legend.
Tatsuki Suzuki suffered unimaginable heartbreak after the Japanese rider looked to be on for his maiden win in Moto3 when he crashed out of the lead with five laps remaining. The SIC58 rider looked absolutely devastated after he lost the front of his Honda machine at turn seven and was forced to catch a lift back to the pits on a scooter.
Albert Arenas’ stand-in Aleix Viu also fell victim to the circuit as he tumbled out with four laps remaining, closely followed by Ayumu Sasaki who crashed out during the penultimate lap.
Full results here.
The championship standings have had a reshuffle and as we head back to Europe and the first of the Spanish rounds in Jerez, it’s a Spanish duel for the top spot. Will Macaulay Culkin look-a-like Masia be the top dog or will ‘little De Niro’ Canet final claim it?