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Pedro Acosta’s stock continues to rise after the Red Bull KTM Ajo starlet took victory in a Moto3™ last lap thriller at the Michelin® Grand Prix of Styria. Sergio Garcia (Santander Consumer GasGas Aspar) went toe to toe with the Championship leader for the duration of the wet race and claimed second place despite crashing late on, while Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) finished third.
Moto3™ is never shy on talking points, and the drama began before the race even started as poleman Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), who saw a dry line appearing, was demoted to the back of the grid for changing to slick tyres after the three-minute warning. When it was lights out, Fenati took advantage to move into the holeshot after the first corner, but his lead was short-lived as Acosta and Garcia made their moves on the Italian the following lap, with the latter leading.
The two opened up a gap to third and traded blows on the third and fourth laps, but it was Garcia who set the pace for the majority of the race, with Championship leader Acosta lurking in his shadow. The wet conditions meant that overtakes were at a minimum, and the top three remained the same as they ticked off the laps, with the front two exchanging the fastest laps of the race on numerous occasions.
At the race's midway point, the gap to the front was already insurmountable with more than five seconds separating them and the group battling for third. In that chasing group, Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) slipped by Fenati and into the podium places on the 13th lap. Up top, Garcia still led, but it was clear that Acosta was holding back, like a cheetah stalking its prey, waiting for his moment to strike. The youthful Spaniard did move in to test the waters at Turn 8, but Garcia wasn’t having any of it and found the drive on the exit to retake the lead.
Again the laps continued to tick down and yet we were no closer to knowing who would stand where on the podium. A Turn 6 wobble on the 16th didn’t affect Acosta’s strategy, while an attempt for the lead saw Garcia retaliate immediately once again on the 18th. With just two laps remaining it was impossible to take your eyes off the battle for the win, Acosta tried again on the penultimate lap, and again Garcia fought back. Further back, Fenati went through on Masia, but the Spaniard responded immediately to stay third.
It teed up a last lap thriller, the front two jostled for the lead before the defining moment came downhill into Turn 9, Acosta aggressive on the brakes to find the inside line forced Garcia wider than he would have liked and the number 11 lost the front to crash out of victory contention. So big was the cushion over the rest of the field, he managed to remount and cross the line ahead of Fenati, who executed a brilliant final corner overtake on Masia to take a second consecutive podium finish.
Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was another rider who risked riding with slicks, and he managed to use it to his advantage in the later laps to fight his way up to P6, just behind Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) in fifth. Japanese duo Ryusei Yamaka (Car Xpert Pruestel GP) and Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) both finished well among the points in satisfying performances. Maximilian Kofler (CIP Green Power) earned his best-ever finish at his Grand Prix with ninth, while Adrian Fernandez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) completes the top 10.
Filip Salac (Car Xpert Pruestel GP), Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power), John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Izan Guevara (Santander Consumer GasGas Aspar) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC 58 Squadra Corse) round out the points finishers.
In wet or dry, you can be sure Moto3™ will bring drama by the bucketloads. We can't wait to see what it has in store for us next weekend.
1. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
2. Sergio Garcia (Santander Consumer Bank GASGAS Aspar) + 14.431
3. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 15.410
4. Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 15.510
5. Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) + 18.847
6. Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 20.534
7. Ryusei Yamanaka (CarXpert PrüstelGP) + 30.080
8. Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) + 30.174
9. Max Kofler (CIP Green Power) + 30.245
10. Adrian Fernandez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 36.355
3 years ago