Sasaki and Veijer finish brilliant #AustrianGP podium battle in 3rd and 4th
After 20 spectacular race laps at the Red Bull Ring, Ayumu Sasaki of the LIQUI MOLY Husqvarna Intact GP team mounted the podium for the sixth time in a row thanks to his third place, while rookie pole-setter Collin Veijer took his best result of the season so far just 0.017s behind in fourth.
Those were scenes that only Moto3 can deliver. Head-to-head duels all the way to the line so that a photo finish decides victory and defeat and also whether or not a rookie snatches the podium away from his experienced teammate.
Before that, Ayumu Sasaki, who started the race from eighth on the grid, gradually fought his way forward until, on lap 14, he even temporarily took the lead in the tight quartet consisting of KTM riders Daniel Holgado, Deniz Öncü, and fellow rookie Collin Veijer. It was clear to everyone involved and watching that the final sprint in this heated battle would be nerve-wracking and merciless. Out of the straight the Japanese rider was almost unbeatable, but the KTM riders also knew how to play to their strengths and so the 22-year-old, who was victorious at the Red Bull Ring last year, went into the last lap as the leader, but again the last corner turned out to be his undoing. The KTM duo eventually pushed Sasaki into third place, earning him another 16 World Championship points that keep him safely in second position in the World Championship standings.
Not only is it amazing that a rookie makes it to pole position in only his tenth race weekend, but that said rookie then confidently joined in the fight for victory in the race and at times reclaimed the lead was truly fascinating to watch. We are of course talking about no other than Collin Veijer, who, in this race at the Red Bull Ring once again proved, how much raw talent he’s got in him. After a good start, the Dutchman lined up in third position but quickly showed himself to be back in P2, riding in a group of six Moto3 race winners. Gradually, the leading group shrank to four riders, so it was not only a duel of riders, but also between KTM and Husqvarna. To pull off this performance against clearly more experienced riders at only 18 years old is terrific and the first podium is only a matter of time. With P4 and only 0.136s behind the winner Deniz Öncü, Veijer achieved his best result of the season so far, which he wants to build on in just two weeks, from the 1st – 3rd of September in Barcelona. Thanks to the 13 points he scored in Austria, the Youngster has moved up to twelfth place in the world championship, from where he is only nine points off the top 10, while the LIQUI MOLY Husqvarna Intact GP team is only nine points behind RED BULL KTM AJO, which also makes the team standings extremely exciting.
Ayumu Sasaki – P3 (+0.119)
This weekend we’ve been struggling on Friday and Saturday, and we only found the issue on Saturday afternoon. My team did a great job of almost fixing the problem for today. The bike felt so much better in the race even though it was still not perfect. We used last year’s setup as a reference. In the last lap, I tried my best but sadly I lost the win once more in the last corner. Finishing third, and on the podium again, was important in the long run of the championship. I just need to stay calm and keep doing what I’m doing now. It is a bittersweet feeling but I need to be happy for now. I am looking forward to the upcoming rounds, especially the Asian tour.
Collin Veijer – P4 (+0.136)
The race was very good and I felt quite okay in the first few laps behind Daniel Holgado. I was able to follow his pace even if I lost time in certain areas but I managed to always get back to him. Öncü overtook me several times but overall, I managed to stay with them throughout the race. Finally, when Ayumu joined our group it was just us four fighting for the victory and I am happy with the result. I was so close to the podium but I am sure we will get another chance. It’s super uplifting to know that we can fight with the best. Once again, we made a big step this weekend and I hope to keep learning and improving.