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The 2016 Moto3™ season saw several dreams come true for Mahindra Racing thanks to the hard work of a dedicated team and several very special riders. Chief amongst these memorable moments was a historic first win at the TT Circuit Assen, achieving India’s first World Championship victory and thus rewarding years of dedication. Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia was the talented rider who pushed the MGP3O to the limit at the Dutch track, achieving both his and Mahindra’s dream of a first Grand Prix victory. Emotions were high that day and it will be one which will live on forever in Grand Prix history.
Pecco would go on to take a second victory later that season, dominating the Malaysian GP and cruising to a cool seven second win. Aside from his two remarkable wins, the Italian took a further four podiums for himself and Mahindra in 2016 alongside a sensational pole at the British GP. Besides Pecco’s heroics, the MGP3O took a historic first & second double podium at the Czech Grand Prix, rounding off a phenomenal season with three race wins and a total of eight podium finishes.
Having spent much of the year contesting the top three in the championship, two unfortunate DNFs in Australia and Valencia forced Pecco to settle for fourth in the championship. All involved were understandably frustrated with the tarnished end to an otherwise supreme season. Despite the difficult end, 2016 saw Bagnaia and Mahindra Racing take their highest placing in the Riders’ Championship to date.
Now racing in the Moto2™ World Championship, Pecco had not seen his race-winning machine since the 2016 Valencia GP. That was until Mahindra Racing CEO Mufaddal Choonia gave the Italian a call and set about reuniting the two long lost friends. On May 16 at Mahindra Racing’s base in Besozzo, Italy, Francesco Bagnaia and his MGP3O were reunited in a special moment – Pecco given his bike to remind him of the success both he and Mahindra achieved together.
2016’s results came as little surprise to those who followed Mahindra and Pecco closely in Moto3™. The Italian scored his first podium in 2015 and from then on was a constant top-ten challenger. Meanwhile, before 2016, the MGP3O had scored a total of five podiums in one of racing’s most innovative and competitive classes.
Mufaddal Choonia, Mahindra Racing CEO: "Today was something very special, it brought back many fantastic memories for all of us. When Pecco got us our first podium of 2016 in the season opener in Qatar, I promised him his bike to keep if he also got us our first race win that year, a little extra motivation – not that he needed much more. After his incredible win in Assen, he came to me and asked me if I remembered the promise I made to him in Qatar. At Mahindra, when we make a promise, we keep it. It was wonderful to see Pecco today and reminisce about our two years together. He may be in Moto2 now, but he will always be a part of the Mahindra family, our history, and we certainly have someone to cheer for in the intermediate class now! It has been a difficult start to 2017 for us, but everyone here in the factory and at the track is working to help put us back on top of the box, just like with Pecco.”
Francesco Bagnaia: “It was fantastic to see my bike again. I have to say thank you to Mahindra Racing, Mufaddal and the team for allowing me to always keep it in my collection. We made many great memories together and straight away from 2015 I knew that this bike had a lot of potential. The chassis was always so great and my two years with Mahindra taught me so much about racing and learning how to always get the most out of my bikes. We had some great races together during the two years but nothing will beat Assen in my memory. Crossing the line in first was unbelievable, knowing I had taken my first victory but then to see everyone from Mahindra and Aspar in Parc Ferme, the emotion, it was all so special. When I have time I still like to return to the team box after I am done in Moto2, give some tips to the new riders and catch up with everyone. I want to say thank you again to Mufaddal, Mahindra and the team for giving me this bike and I know they will find their speed again.”
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