Do not adjust your sets: it may look similar to a little earlier in the season, but there has been plenty of incredible track action between now and then in the Moto3™ World Championship. And yet, it remains Albert Arenas (Valresa Aspar Team) ahead of the game, with the Spaniard now 28 points clear at the top. Why? He won, again. In style, again.
Normally odds would say that makes him a clear favourite for a repeat this weekend, but Moto3™ have never played nice with predictions. The experienced Spaniard certainly is a title favourite and a name in the hat for the win if not every win, but it will be far from easy. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) – the former the winner from some late penalties for track limits in Austria, and the latter one of the losers – showed they have some serious pace and will be threats, as will Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) as he was back on the podium and very nearly on the top step on Sunday…
The names don’t stop there. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) is another who, although the dice didn’t quite fall his way, knows he has pace as we prepare to race at the Red Bull Ring again, and there were three more vital protagonists at the front in the Austrian GP fray: Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) and Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Deniz Öncü and Ayumu Sasaki.
For Binder, it’s becoming somewhat of a calling card to suffer a tougher Saturday and then blast through the pack on race day with almost no visible clue that he started outside the top 20. The South African fought it out at the front with typical gusto too; then classified lower than where he crossed the line but with chance to ‘right’ that on Sunday. Öncü, meanwhile, didn’t lose out to a penalty but was by far the quickest we’ve seen from him in the World Championship so far, leading a lightweight class Grand Prix for the first time and then finishing eighth. His teammate Sasaki also showed a fresh flash of pace before he was another to fall foul of the stewards and receive a Long Lap Penalty. That dropped him outside the top twenty with only three laps to go, but the Japanese rider kept it pinned thereon out and managed to come home in the points. Both will surely proves shots of confidence for the Tech 3 squad.
The likes of Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team), polesitter Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), after fighting at the front, will also want more, and there are the experienced guns like Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) to keep an eye on too, as they went a little under the radar. For Fenati, the 2019 Austrian GP winner, there will be a clear objective too: set a solid lap in Q2, as the Italian had his one real push for glory deleted for track limits last weekend.
Arenas remains the favourite, but Moto3™ retains its beautifully chaotic reputation as we head into the BMW M Grand Prix of Styria. The number 75 makes it look easy on paper, but the reality is a classic showdown every weekend – and this will be no different. Tune in on Sunday at 11:00 (GMT +2).