Race report

Qatar Moto3: Masia wins wild season opener in Ajo KTM 1-2

Jaume Masia won a thrilling Moto3 Qatar Grand Prix on his KTM Ajo debut, fending off rookie teammate Pedro Acosta and Darryn Binder on the run to the line.

Jaume Masia, Red Bull KTM Ajo

Masia has switched from Leopard Honda to Aki Ajo’s KTM squad for 2021, and completed a stunning final lap to claim his fourth career victory by just 0.042 seconds.

Petronas Sprinta’s Binder grabbed the holeshot from pole position, while Gresini’s Gabriel Rodrigo slotted in behind, as one of the pre-race favourites Dennis Foggia (Leopard Honda) was clattered out of the race at Turn 3 by Avintia’s Carlos Tatay - who was handed a long lap penalty for the incident.

Rodrigo powered his Honda into the lead on the run into Turn 1 at the start of the second tour, before a moment later in the lap allowed KTM Ajo rookie Acosta to move ahead.

Such is the power of the slipstream in Qatar, the lead changed hands constantly across the race, with Binder, Rodrigo, Acosta, Ajo teammate Masia, CIP’s Kaito Toba and Tech 3’s Ayumu Sasaki taking turns heading the pack.

The lead group was thinned on lap three when rookie Xavi Artigas out-braked himself into Turn 6 and wiped out Petronas Sprinta’s John McPhee, Jeremy Alcoba on the second Gresini Honda and Avintia’s Andrea Migno.

As the race entered its final three laps, the lead group stood at 13 riders, with Sasaki leading the freight train.

He stayed mounted despite a small mistake at Turn 13, but was powerless to stop Masia coming through to lead at the start of the penultimate lap.

As the lead group concertinaed, Niccolo Antonelli found his way through from ninth to first on the penultimate lap on his Avintia KTM.

Masia used the power of the slipstream to reclaim the lead on the run into Turn 1 on the final lap, with teammate Acosta moving into second while Sasaki’s charge ended with a crash at Turn 2.

Across the final lap Masia did not put a foot wrong, nailing his run out of the final corner to keep Acosta and Binder at bay – the trio covered by 0.052s.

Sergio Garcia gave KTM’s new brand GASGAS a solid debut in fourth on his Aspar-run machine, with Rodrigo completing the top five.

Antonelli was shuffled back to sixth at the chequered flag following his brief run in the lead, with Aspar rookie Izan Guevara seventh on his debut ahead of Toba.

SIC58 Honda’s Tatsuki Suzuki came from the back of the grid to finish ninth having missed the Qatar pre-season test due to COVID-19, while Jason Dupasquier rounded out the top 10 on the Prustel GP KTM.

Tatay recovered from his long lap penalty to score points in 11th, the Spaniard pipping Max Racing Husqvarna’s Romano Fenati – who served two long lap penalties for jumping the start.

Artigas pulled out of the race after re-joining from his early collision, with that incident under investigation. 

Update: Toba and Tatay were hit with post-race penalties for exceeding track limits. That promoted Suzuki to eighth ahead of Toba, Dupasquier, Fenati and Tatay.

Race results:

Cla # Rider Bike Time Gap
1 5 Spain Jaume Masia KTM    
2 37 Pedro Acosta KTM 0.042  
3 40 South Africa Darryn Binder Honda 0.094  
4 11 Spain Sergio García GASGAS 0.435  
5 2 Argentina Gabriel Rodrigo Honda 0.880  
6 23 Italy Niccolo Antonelli KTM 0.899  
7 28 Izan Guevara GASGAS 0.965  
8 24 Japan Tatsuki Suzuki Honda 2.214  
9 27 Japan Kaito Toba KTM 1.950  
10 50 Switzerland Jason Dupasquier KTM 2.219  
11 55 Italy Romano Fenati Husqvarna 2.316  
12 99 Spain Carlos Tatay KTM 2.298  
13 12 Czech Republic Filip Salač Honda 2.345  
14 6 Japan Ryusei Yamanaka KTM 2.434  
15 73 Austria Maximilian Kofler KTM 14.768  
16 92 Japan Yuki Kunii Honda 14.834  
17 31 Mexico Adrian Fernandez Husqvarna 22.187  
18 82 Italy Stefano Nepa KTM 22.277  
19 20 Lorenzo Fellon Honda 28.282  
20 53 Turkey Deniz Öncü KTM 41.283  
21 19 Indonesia Andi Gilang Honda 44.976  
22 71 Japan Ayumu Sasaki KTM    
23 43 Xavier Artigas Honda    
24 17 United Kingdom John McPhee Honda    
25 16 Italy Andrea Migno Honda    
26 52 Spain Jeremy Alcoba Honda    
27 54 Italy Riccardo Rossi KTM    
28 7 Italy Dennis Foggia Honda    

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