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Overcoming injury and illness, Niccolo Antonelli starts his 2016 campaign with a hard fought victory in Qatar.
For the third time in his World Championship career, Niccolo Antonelli took to the top step of the podium. A strategic race saw the Ongetta-Rivacold rider sit inside the top five for the majority of the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, knowing that other bikes had an advantage down the straight and a slipstream could make or break a race. There were several difficult moments for the Italian as he waited for his moment; a near coming together with Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) could have ended in disaster. But both remained upright and Antonelli was able to grab victory by just 0.007s, using Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) slipstream perfectly.
Heading into the race Antonelli was unsure how he would go, several crashes aggravating his still healing collarbone. The situation was made worse as he picked up a bad cold at the start of the weekend, suffering with a cough throughout. Despite the illness, Antonelli starts the 2016 Moto3™ World Championship with the best first race of his career, his previous best an eighth place finish in 2015. The paddock will now head to Argentina for the second round of the year, a track that Antonelli enjoys, despite having never scored a point there.
Niccolo Antonelli: “It has been an amazing race, I am really happy! At the beginning I decided to do not push too much, I knew that KTM bikes were faster here I decided to stay behind Binder because I was aware that if I stayed there the podium was guaranteed. In the last lap I did the maximum, and I also risked in some occasions but I think that it was worth it! Now we enjoy this moment, relax some days and we fly to Argentina, one of my favorite tracks."
1 year ago