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Moto3™ half season review – The battle so far

Moto3™ half season review – The battle so far

The first half of the inaugural Moto3™ season has been nothing short of breath-taking as the new generation of racing machines took no time whatsoever to provide fans with the excitement, action and controversy that makes the entry class so fascinating to watch. And whilst the class takes a well-deserved summer break, brings you a recap of the season so far.

Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales took his championship favourite tag quite literally as he took the first ever Moto3 victory under the floodlights in Qatar. However it was neither he, nor Red Bull KTM Ajo’s pole-sitter Sandro Cortese that stole the show, but a 16-year-old Italian rookie named Romano Fenati. Fenati, on-board his Team Italia FMI FTR-Honda machine came second in his first ever world championship race, leading to immediate parallels being drawn between him and Valentino Rossi.

Unfazed by the media spotlight thrown upon him, Fenati followed this up with a stunning ride in a rain-hit Jerez, to take his first Grand Prix victory and become the rider with the least races needed to take a first victory on the world stage. RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom had made it onto the second step of the podium, while Cortese once again looked like consistency was his game plan, with third. And whilst Fenati ruled the roost, Viñales showed frailties in the wet, as a mistake cost him a podium finish.

Estoril beckoned, and both Cortese and Viñales were up at the front once more dicing for the win, with the German taking the chequered flag after a tough move on the Spaniard, which he was not too happy with. Salom consolidated his good form in third, yet the story of the day was AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who became the highest ever placed Malaysian motorcycle racer in the country’s history in fourth.

The skies opened as the Moto3 grid descended on Le Mans, with Racing Team Germany’s Louis Rossi taking his first ever GP win in front of his home crowd. As many of the top riders fell in harsh conditions, Rossi kept his nerve to take a convincing win ahead of Bankia Aspar Team’s Alberto Moncayo, and Estrella Galicia 0,0’s 16-year-old rookie Alex Rins. Cortese finished the race sixth after a fall, whilst Viñales crashed out of the lead, once again changing the top of the championship standings.

The Spaniard however soon made amends with three race wins in a row in Catalunya, Silverstone and Assen, retaking the lead at the top of the standings. While Viñales’ win at his home race was a delight for the local crowd, it was Rins’ teammate Miguel Oliveira who made history by becoming the first-ever Portuguese rider to stand on the podium in any of the MotoGP™ classes. Cortese did not let the championship run away however, as he was continuously on the podium, albeit only closely in Assen, where the Moto3 class’ first ever photo finish was required. And it was the German’s teammate Danny Kent who stole his first ever GP podium from Salom, who finished fourth.

Germany’s Sachsenring was however to be yet another turning point in the season, as Cortese challenged Viñales’ dominance with a convincing home win in some treacherous conditions. As the Spaniard once again struggled in the wet conditions to finish 17th, Cortese recorded the first victory of a German rider at the newly built Sachsenring. The race also saw Caretta Technology’s Alexis Masbou break his podium duck, having missed out on the step in 102 world championship starts before.

With Cortese heading the championship standings going into the last race before the summer break in Mugello there was much to play for. And the leading duo once again had their work cut out as Fenati appeared on the radar again after having some subdued races after his grand entrance. The Italian fought with the duo to the line, ultimately taking second by a mere fraction behind Viñales, yet ousting Cortese into third.

At the half way point, Cortese leads the Moto3 championship with 164 points, with Viñales only nine points behind. There is a sizable gap to Salom in third, who lies on 104. Yet with the close racing and unpredictability the class has shown, anything is possible in the second half of the season. Watch all the season’s highlights on!

Moto3, 2012

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