moto3 / Top Five for Quartararo and Locatelli in Sepang
In a race characterized by falls and a red flag, the French and Italian won important points but bitterness for Joan Mir, betrayed by the asphalt while leading the race.
At 12:00 local time a thrilling lightweight class race began, drama was immediate as a number of front-runners fell early. Among them was Bulega, vying with Joan Mir for the Rookie-of-the-year title. Soon the Spaniard moved into the lead of the race.
Unfortunately, at Turn 7, the treacherous asphalt betrayed the leading group by putting an end to their dreams of glory and with only Bagnaia staying upright. Mir, Binder and Di Giannantonio all fell in unison, an unbelievable sight and a clear sign something was not right on track.
Meanwhile, the other two riders of Leopard Racing team, Fabio Quartararo and Andrea Locatelli gave their all going for position after position after a difficult start to the race. On lap two the teammates found themselves paired in fifth and sixth temporarily, with the French ahead of the Italian.
It was an elimination race where as many as 13 players fell. By half race distance Bagnaia had already built up a lead of over eighth seconds. Behind Quartararo jumped on Rodrigo, putting Bendnseyder and Kornfeil, and a potential podium, right ahead of him. Simultaneously, Loka duelled with ‘the landlord’ Pawi.
The 20 year old from Selvino showed his talent and was soon back in front of the chasing group. But with four laps to go, the accident of Maria Herrera saw Race Direction bring out the red flag, preventing Quartararo form launching an attack on the podium, with Locatelli crossing the finish line behind him.
In the standings Joan Mir remains stationary at 124 points and decide the Rookie of the year title in the last race, while Andrea Locatelli consolidates a position in the Top Ten with 96 points. Fabio Quartararo advances to twelfth place (81 p.). Next up on the 11 to 13 November in Valencia is the last round of the season in 2016.
#20 Fabio QUARTARARO – 4th:
“It was a very strange race, marked by many falls. At the start I did not feel at ease because of the oil left on the track in a corner and I lost so much time from the leading group. Then I started to get a good rhythm, I do not understand the red flag: shame because I could fight for the podium.”
#55 Andrea LOCATELLI – 5th:
“I am pleased to have brought home more valuable points and go up in the standings. It has been a difficult weekend and unfortunately we did not get so much time on the bike in the dry, and maybe we could have had a better setup. All in all this Asian treble has gone well: a podium and a top five, a sign that we have done quite a good job.”
#36 Joan MIR – NC:
“It was a real shame, but lucky I did not have any serious injuries. From what little it lasted it was a very good race because I felt I had the margin to run away or stay in front for the whole race. In that corner there was oil on the track from a previous fall: I was the first to pass. I want to thank my team because today they handed me a bike fast enough to fight for victory.”
Moto3™ Race – Malaysian Grand Prix 2016:
1 – Francesco Bagnaia / ITA / Pull & Bear Aspar / Mahindra / 14 laps
2 – Jakub Kornfeil / CZE / Drive M7 SIC / Honda / +7.108
3 – Bo Bendseyder / NED / Red Bull KTM Ajo / KTM / +7.253
4 – Fabio Quartararo / FRA / Leopard Racing / KTM / +8.469
5 – Andrea Locatelli/ ITA / Leopard Racing / KTM / +12.414
NC – Joan Mir / SPA / Leopard Racing / KTM /
Moto3™ World Standing 2016:
1 – Brad Binder 294
2 – Enea Bastianini 164
3 – Francesco Bagnaia 145
6 – Joan MIR 124
9 – Andrea LOCATELLI 96
12 – Fabio QUARTARARO 81
Photo credit: Leopard Racing