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The 2016 season has begun with two races on the opposite ends of the spectrum, seven points splitting the top three.
While the Qatar GP was a classic Moto3™ nail bitter, the victor 0.007s ahead of second, the Argentina GP saw a single rider walk the field and win by over 25 seconds. Before the weekend almost no one would have expected Malaysian rookie Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) to take such a crushing victory with such relative ease. As experienced riders such as Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) floundered in the mixed conditions and failed to score points, Pawi produced perfection to claim his first Grand Prix win in just his third start. In total five different riders have stood on the podium so far in the lightweight class.
Pawi took to the top step of the podium, but it was the man in third, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who stepped to the top of the championship table. Binder is so far the only rider to take podium finishes in both Moto3™ races, 36 points and the championship lead his reward. In 2015, the South African finished fifth at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Bastianini and Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) the only two riders still in the class to finish ahead of him.
Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) was unable to repeat his Qatar GP victory in Argentina, the Italian settling for tenth and slipping to second in the standings, five points behind Binder. On all three of his previous visits to the Circuit of the Americas, Antonelli has failed to score points and has only once finished the race.
Battling with Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) throughout the Argentina GP, Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was able to fend off the Malaysian rookie to take second in the race. With over a year’s World Championship experience under his belt, Navarro will be aiming to convert the potential he showed at the end of 2015 into repeat podiums. The Spaniard is just two points shy of Antonelli in the standings and only seven points back on Binder, the top three still wide open.
Not only did the Argentina GP see Pawi take his first win, but also score his first points on the world stage and immediately rocket to fourth in the standings. The 17-year old still remains a largely unknown quantity, but will remain one to watch closely throughout the Austin weekend and the season as a whole.
The 2015 race saw eventual champion Danny Kent sprint ahead and clear off to claim victory by eight and a half seconds. If conditions stay dry, the 2016 edition of the race looks set to be a much closer affair as no clear favourite has emerged for the title. Both Fabio Quartararo and the Leopard Racing team will be eager to replicate the domination of Danny Kent. The change of team and machinery has not been easy for Quartararo, the French double CEV Champion scoring just six points in the opening two rounds. 2015 saw the French rider enter with the world’s expectations upon his shoulder but he has so far struggled to consistently deliver. He now returns to America, the site of his first World Championship podium, with the hope of a repeat performance.
Action commences at 09:00 Local Time on Friday the eighth of April as Moto3™ begin the weekend with Free Practice 1.
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