Daniel Holgado on the podium in Japan, but loses championship lead
The Moto3™ championship lead was at stake on Sunday at Mobility Motegi Resort, with Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Daniel Holgado still holding the lead tight with Jaume Masia, followed closely by Japanese Ayumu Sasaki. After another hard fought race in the lightweight class, Daniel Holgado returned on the podium for the first time since Austria, in third, but with his two title contenders finishing on the first two steps, he lost his championship lead for the first time this season, after thirteen rounds spent at the top. Despite a left hand injury sustained yesterday in qualifying, Filippo Farioli managed to make it to P16 in Japan.
When lights went out at 12:00 (GMT+9), Holgado negociated turn 1 pretty well as he powered himself to second behind rival Deniz Oncu. These two together quickly took the lead with title contenders Ayumu Sasaki and Jaume Masia not far behind. Dani set himself into a good race pace behind the number 53, but local boy Sasaki was coming back quick, taking for his own a new best race lap record at the same time in his early laps. With twelve laps to go, the Japanese eventually overtook Dani, and shortly after that it was Masia. Holgado was then in P4, 1.2 seconds away from the second group of riders. From there, it was the big four and the rest, with Masia leading the group, and Holgado, Oncu and Sasaki constantly overtaking each other.
Eventually, that allowed the race leader to make the gap with his rivals, and the fights between the three others also meant they lost time to Nepa and Ortola who were making the gap with the rest of their group. Under pressure, Oncu went down with seven laps to go, placing Holgado provisionally on the third step of a Japanese podium. Holgado was going to fight against local Sasaki, but had now other things to worry about, with Ortola having being back 0.5 seconds behind. Five laps to go, Masia was still at the lead, one second away. It appeared difficult to fight for the win, but finishing in front of Sasaki was then the priority for the young Holgado. Things went down until the final sector of the final lap. Holgado managed to take Sasaki from the inside, closed on him to defend his attack, but eventually a small slip at the last corner’s exit gave Sasaki the opportunity to overtake Dani on the finish line. Daniel Holgado finished in third today, and now stands third in the riders championship, nine points away from new championship leader Jaume Masia. The championship is wide open, but there are another six crazy rounds to go!
Filippo Farioli was starting from the twenty-second position after a disappointing qualifying at Mobility Resort Motegi, which saw him suffer an intense highside. With a left hand injury, the young Italian fought through the pain in Japan and did a great race considering his condition. When lights went out, he managed to take two positions directly to P20, and then was in P19 the next few laps. His pace was decent, he was not far from the rhythm of the front group. He rode his fastest lap in 1’58.359 on lap 4. A few crashes helped him progress to P16, at the doors at the top 15. He gave all he could, but that was not enough to finish in the points today. The Red Bull KTM Tech3 team will now head home for a good week of rest after two very intense rounds, before traveling to Lombok for the Indonesian Grand Prix, the first round of the next triple header awaiting us! See you on October 13-15!
“I am happy because it has been two races that I am finally back fighting for the win. We did an amazing race today, our feeling was strong, I was confident, so I am pleased to be back on the podium, the last one was in Austria! Of course I had an opportunity to finish second, but in the end it did not go my way, so I have to be happy with third. The championship is fully on, we are in the game, so it is time to rest for one week at home, and come to Indonesia in full form and ready to win!”
“It was a painful race for me today because I had pain on my left hand from my crash yesterday. I struggled a bit with the clutch directly from the warm up lap. Once the race started, I had to deal with the pain, but once I got used to it, the laps were getting better one after the other. I am still happy in the end because my lap times were good, the feelings were good, maybe if I had not crashed yesterday, it would have been possible to finish in a good position today. We will go home to recover, I will take care of my hand, and we will go to Indonesia fully reset.”