The gauntlet has been thrown as the heat has been turned to the maximum in the 2023 Moto3™ title battle. After a dominant display from Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) at the IndianOil Grand Prix of India, the Spaniard is now equal on points with his title rival Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) with both riders sat at the top of the pile with 174 points. Despite being beaten to 2nd place by Kaito Toba (SIC58 Squadra Corse) - who took his first podium since 2022 – Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) sits just one point behind the Spanish duo as he took 3rd place in a dramatic last-lap scrap.
Lights out in India
Jaume Masia got the perfect start from pole position as the Spaniard took the holeshot down into Turn 1. The Spaniard had Ayumu Sasaki all over his rear wheel as the chasing pack scrapped it out behind.
Masia put the hammer down right from the off as the Leopard man began to stretch out the field in the opening stages. Sasaki wasn't letting Masia out of his sights however as the Japanese rider latched himself onto the Leopard machine to pull away from the chasing pack.
This left an enthralling battle for third as a group of riders battled it and swapped paintwork for the final rostrum honours. David Alonso (GASGAS Aspar Team), Kaito Toba, Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP), Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets MSI), and Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Ajo) were all in the mix until Veijer found an extra gear and really began to motor on.
With the leading duo over two seconds clear out the front, Veijer began his escape from the chasing pack as Kaito Toba followed pursuit, making it a two-rider battle for the third with the laps ticking away.
Masia's relentless pace proved too much for Sasaki in the end as the Spaniard stretched out a 2.5s lead over the Japanese rider with 4 laps remaining.
Masia then went on to take a commanding victory as he remained untouched at the front of the race, stamping his authority on the field by 5.4s.
Gloves off in the podium fight
With the race win no longer on the cards, Sasaki then began to fall into the clutches of Collin Veijer as his pace very suddenly dropped off the boil.
Toba quickly made his presence known with 3 laps remaining as he pushed his way past Veijer to slot himself in between the two Husqvarna machines. Toba's sights were now set on Sasaki as 2nd place was up for grabs. Toba made a move on his compatriot but it didn't last long as Sasaki bit straight back.
Toba now had a track limits warning as they headed onto the final lap. The gloves were off as the battle for P2 was well and truly on.
The Trio swapped and changed positions as the lap went on until it hit boiling point in the final sector as Sasaki took a big dive up the inside of his teammate as the two collided and the Dutchman went down and out of the race.
Toba capitalised on the mayhem and got the better of Sasaki on the final lap with the SIC58 rider taking his first podium of the season taking 2nd place ahead of his compatriot.
Daniel Holgado picked up the pieces to win the battle for 4th place after climbing his way up from 19th on the grid. The title contender got the better of David Alonso with David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) getting the better of Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) for P6.
It could not get any closer in Moto3™! It's game on in the 2023 title race as attentions now turn to the next round on the Grand Prix calendar. The Motul Grand Prix of Japan will take place in just one week's time as the action at the Mobility Resort Motegi. The action is set to take place from the 29th of September to the 1st of October. In the meantime make sure you keep up to date with everything MotoGP™ on motogp.com!