Öncü takes victory as Sasaki bounces back in title fight

The Turk came out on top of a rain-soaked last lap showdown as Sasaki reeled in the championship leader Masia

Just four points now split the top two in the 2023 Moto3™ World Standings after an awesome wet weather duel in Phillip Island gave the standings another shake up. It was Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who came out victorious after snatching the win from Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) on the final lap, and with Championship leader Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) finishing down in 8th, Sasaki's 2nd place finish keeps the pressure firmly on in the title fight. History was also made for the hosting nation as Joel Kelso (CFMoto Racing PruestelGP) not only took his debut Grand Prix podium but broke a nine-year podium drought for Australia in the lightweight class – and did it in front of his home crowd! 

There was drama before the lights even went out in Australia as a number of riders crashed on the sighting lap, including Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets - MSI). Both riders were able to get their bikes repaired and back into the race, but Moreira had to start from pitlane. 

The lights then went out and it was Sasaki who took the hole shot through Turn 1, with home hero Kelso glued to his rear wheel. But Adrian Fernandez (Leopard Racing) was soon on the scene as he carved his way through to take the lead at the start of Lap 2.  

The Spaniard – whi is permanently replacing Tatsuki Suzuki – found his groove at the front of the race and began to settle into a rhythm with the chasing pack struggling to keep with the pace of the Leopard rider.  

Öncü, Kelso, Sasaki, and Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) all kept themselves in the mix, however, not too far off Fernandez as that group really began to escape away at the head of the field.

Disaster then struck for the race leader as the tiniest of mistakes decided Fernandez's fate. The Spaniard crashed out of the lead, handing the baton to Sasaki... but such was the advantage for the top quintet that Fernandez still managed to rejoin in fifth.

It then became game on between Sasaki and Öncü as the pair had broken away from Kelso and Veijer, and the duo were locked together in an intense battle for victory.  

Sasaki led the way as they started the final lap but nothing was going to stop a determined Öncü from stepping on the top step on Sunday. The Turk came out victorious in a last-lap scrap with a brutal but clean lunge at Turn 10, denying Sasaki but both banking some big points on Masia. 

Kelso rewarded the Aussie fans for sticking around to watch in the rain. It's a day the local rider will never forget as he got to taste the Prosecco for the first time at Grand Prix level.

Veijer, after going with the leaders early on, ended the race with a lonely ride to fourth but took another top finish, with Fernandez completing the top five and, incredibly, equalling his best ever GP finish despite that tumble.

It cannot get any closer in Moto3™! It's all to play for in the 2023 title race and the OR Thailand Grand Prix will take place in just one week's time. Come back then for more and in the meantime make sure you keep up to date with everything MotoGP™ on motogp.com! 

Top 10

1 Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo)  
2 Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) +0.407
3 Joel Kelso (CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP) +4.392
4 Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) +23.062
5 Adrian Fernandez (Leopard Racing) +31.661
6 Ricardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse) +31.702
7 Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia) +32.236
8 Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) +32.923
9 Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) +33.379
10 Lorenzo Fellon (CIP Green Power) +35.575


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