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Tight at the top as Moto3™ arrives in Europe

Tight at the top as Moto3™ arrives in Europe

Brad Binder and Jorge Navarro sit close at the head of the championship as Romano Fenati aims to carry momentum from his Austin victory.

The first three races of the 2016 Moto3™ World Championship have produced three different winners in three very different races. In Qatar Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) won a classic drag to the line. In Argentina Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) put Malaysia on the racing map by crushing his experienced opposition in tricky conditions. Then in Austin, Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) produced a calm and mature ride to take his first win in almost a year. But all three are still chasing one rider: Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo).

After a week off the Championship now heads back to Europe and to Jerez, a circuit all the riders and teams are intimately familiar with. Not only was Jerez the stage for the first pre-season test, many teams also chose to run a number of private tests at the Andalusia track. With ample data from testing and previous races, expect a number of new names to be in the podium battle. 2015’s race in Jerez saw the top three split by just 0.3 seconds.

On the podium in all three races, Binder’s consistency has given him the championship lead with 52 points. He’s yet to take a win in the lightweight class, but aims to change that in Jerez. In 2015 Binder finished third behind Danny Kent and Miguel Oliveira in Jerez, the pair have now moved up to the Moto2™ World Championship and once again Binder heads into a weekend as an early favourite. After two third place finishes where luck played a role, a return to battling for victory could cement him as the title favourite.

Much like Binder, Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) is still-hunting his first World Championship win. He looked set to take victory in Austin until two mistakes saw him drop back to a safe second. The Spaniard is sat on 49 points, three back on Binder and is out for his third consecutive podium in 2016. Navarro is the only rider in the top four of the championship to have not been competing full time in the Moto3™ class since its inception in 2012,

Winner in Austin and twice a winner in Jerez, there’s few with finer historic form than Romano Fenati in Jerez. In 2012 Fenati won the Spanish GP in just his second ever Grand Prix appearance but has struggled for consistency since. However, in 2016 Fenati has seemed a changed man, gone are his Qualifying woes and in Austin he produced a calm and mature ride, waiting for his chance to pass Navarro rather than relentlessly attacking him. Taking a third career victory at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España would do wonders for Fenati’s title campaign. The Italian has 38 points and is third, but is already 14 points behind Binder.

Since taking their victories, Antonelli and Pawi have been unable to re-create the magic. Neither rider scored in America, Antonelli crashing out after an incredible ride from 30th place to the top ten. Both have ample experience in Jerez, Antonelli from years in the World Championship and Pawi from testing and a season in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship and each need to return to the points, especially Antonelli.

In 2015 the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship round in Jerez saw Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) take his first and only win of the season in a thrilling battle. He won the race from pole, his pole time faster than the World Championship pole time from that same year. Already the Italian has impressed many with his first three races, taking two top tens and proving he can stay with the front group.

Both Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) will also be looking to capitalize on their CEV experience and emulate Pawi’s incredible Argentina ride. So far both riders have scored points twice and crashed once, but the familiar setting of Jerez should give them a chance to shine. In 2015 Mir finished Race 1 in the CEV on the podium in third before crashing out in the second race.

The return to Europe also sees the return of wildcards lining up alongside the established grid. In Jerez Alex Rins’ Procercasa – 42 Motorsport team will compete in the World Championship with French rider Enzo Boulom and Italian Davide Pizzoli, two up and coming riders. Pizzoli makes his second World Championship appearance, having raced in Aragon in 2015. Albert Arenas will also be present alongside the Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3.

Free Practice 1 begins at 09:00 Local Time on Friday the 22nd of April.


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