ASTONISHING: Acosta wins epic Moto3™ battle from pitlane

The rookie becomes the first rider to win a Moto3™ race from pitlane, beating Binder by 0.039s in an outrageous lightweight class Doha GP

Finding the words to describe what happened in the Moto3™ Tissot Grand Prix of Doha encounter is hard. Very hard. It was an incredible battle from lights out to chequered flag but rightly stealing the headlines is wonder kid rookie Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Why? Well, the 16-year-old became the first Moto3™ rider to start from pitlane and win! A truly astonishing ride from the young Spaniard leaves everyone speechless as the number 37 beats Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) by 0.039s, with Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) completing the podium.

So, for the second time in seven days, it was lights out in the desert for the Moto3™ riders and making the best start was Gabriel Rodrigo (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) from P3 on the grid, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Binder making electric getaways from the second row to claw themselves up to P2 and P3. Binder was wasting no time and was into the lead at Turn 4, polesitter Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was down to P4 but then found his way past Suzuki for P3 on the opening lap.

Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power) then led on Lap 2 but it was slipstream city down the 1km down the home straight every lap. Binder was back at the front briefly before Filip Salac (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Suzuki interchanged P1 on Lap 4, with the pitlane starters still six seconds adrift of 21st place Xavier Artigas (Leopard Racing) – the latter taking his two long-lap penalties.

The Moto3™ script was the same as always as we entered Lap 7: constant fairing bashing, awe-inspiring racing. Leading now was Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) from Toba and Masia, with rookie Adrian Fernandez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) getting properly stuck in. Further back, the pitlane starters of Acosta, Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), Sergio Garcia (GASGAS Gaviota Aspar) and Stefano Nepa (BOE Owlride) were now starting to penetrate the top 20, just over six seconds off the fight for the race win. There was 10 laps to go now in Doha, 1.5 seconds split 18 riders. Outrageous.

After leading across the line, Binder was squeezed out at Turn 1 as he and teammate John McPhee got a bit close for comfort. The South African suddenly down to P14, with Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) now the new race leader. Like he was last Sunday, Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) was in the thick of it and briefly led but watching the riders go – genuinely – 10 abreast into Turn 1 was frightening stuff. Remember Binder? Two minutes later, he was back up to fifth – slipstream effect in full flow.

Artigas was the first crasher with seven to go after contact with Carlos Tatay (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) with Acosta and Garcia now tagged onto the back of the leaders. Salac, with six to go, was then down and out after a great race – a real shame for the Czech rider who got a bit of helping hand from Sasaki. Now, with five to go, the top 21 were covered by 1.6 seconds. 1.6 seconds!

Drama then unfolded at Turn 1 between two race leaders. Alcoba and McPhee were down at Turn 1, Alcoba tagged the back of Binder and left McPhee with nowhere to go, the latter got a face full of Honda and both were out of the race. Later, at Turn 6, Tatay and Adrian Fernandez were down too.

In the aftermath, Masia now led from Migno and Binder, as Acosta found himself inside the top five – sensational work from the rookie. The gap between the leading quintet – Rodrigo, Masia, Binder, Acosta and Migno – was over half a second to Antonelli, but the latter did amazingly to bridge the gap.

And heading onto the last lap, Acosta had clawed his way to the front. The rookie sensation took the initiative and started pulling clear of second place Binder as Masia at fourth. The latter shoved it up the inside of Antonelli at Turn 6 but both ran wide, allowing Rodrigo through. Meanwhile, Acosta was setting the fastest lap of the race with Binder the only one able to stick with the wonder kid on the last lap, with Masia then coming into contact with Rodrigo at Turn 10. A late lunge didn’t work and the Qatar race winner, along with Rodrigo, was wide to allow Antonelli back through.

However, it was now all about Acosta vs Binder. An absolutely pitch-perfect last lap from the Spaniard all came down to the run to the line. Binder was in touch and had a chance of snatching the 25 points at the death, but Acosta held on by just 0.039s to claim his first Moto3™ victory. Something like this doesn’t happen very often and it’s genuinely of the greatest riders in Grand Prix history. Pitlane to P1 – take a bow Pedro Acosta.

Binder picks up his second consecutive podium at Losail in another magnificent ride from the number 40 as Antonelli return to the podium for the first time since winning the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix. Migno and Toba completed a top five covered by just 0.651s as Izan Guevara (GASGAS Gaviota Aspar) recovered from a huge Warm Up crash to claim P6, a great start to his rookie campaign. Sasaki was a second behind Guevara in P7 as he and Masia make contact on the exit of Turn 10, but the Japanese rider returns to the points after his last lap crash in Qatar.

Ryusei Yamanaka (CarXpert PrüstelGP) finished P8 to secure his best Grand Prix finish, the Japanese rider beat Masia to the line by 0.018s as the former Championship leader endures a tough final lap. 10th went the way of Fenati, a great ride from pitlane, with Jason Dupasquier (CarXpert PrüstelGP) grabs back-to-back points finishes. Suzuki ended P12 ahead of the unfortunate Rodrigo who got shoved off track by Masia on the last lap, Maximilian Kofler (CIP Green Power) and Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) completed the points – 2.260 seconds is the gap between P1 and P15.

Another breath-taking display in Moto3™. Acosta’s ride will be remembered for some time and the rookie now leads the Championship after a P2 and P1 to begin his Grand Prix career. Extraordinary. Binder also bags two podiums to begin the 2021 campaign with as Masia slips to P3 in the overall standings, with a weekend off now awaiting us ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Top 10:
1. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
2. Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.039
3. Niccolo Antonelli (Reale Avintia Moto3) + 0.482
4. Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 0.514
5. Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power) + 0.651
6. Izan Guevara (GasGas Gaviota Aspar) + 0.708
7. Ayumu Sasaki (Tech3 KTM Racing) + 1.805
8. Ryusei Yamanaka (CarXpert PrüstelGP) + 1.857
9. Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 1.875
10. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 1.967


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