What a fantastic race the fourth round of the Moto3 season turned out to be; the first round in Europe, a favourite track for many riders, teams and fans and an amazing platform for an exciting 250cc race in the Moto3 class.
The sun was shining, conditions were perfect and after a warm-up session were Aron Canet was fastest on board his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda. It looked to be a battle of the Spaniards as the top four riders were attending their home round.
One of those was pole position man, Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) who set a new record with his lap time that meant he would lead the grid away on home turf. He was to be joined on the front row by Canet, and 2016 race winner, Romano Fenati who is now with Marinelli Rivacold Snipers.
Perfect conditions for the opening race in Jerez
The air temperature was 25 degrees Celsius with a humidity level of 42% and a ground temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. Heading into the race we knew it was bound to be a great race, what we didn’t know was that it was going to turn out to be a master-class in 250cc riding, and a showcase of the talents of Marcos Ramirez, now with Platinum Bay Real Estate on the KTM, unveiled.
Martin leads into first turn when the lights go out
The lights went out and it was the record breaking pole position man, Martin that led into the first corner. They made their way round the track, squeezing themselves into a place as close to the front as possible and made it through the first few turns with no incident. Manuel Pagliani (CIP) was penalised for a jump start and later had to complete a ride-through penalty.
However, on turn six at the end of the main straight, Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) crashed and brought down Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Antonelli came out worse, he had the outside line and slid out into the run off area. Fortunately both riders were unhurt and were quickly up to their feet and re-joined the action.
Overtaking hotspots in Jerez
The main straight was where the riders would gain the most advantage from the slipstream of the others, and on the majority of the laps at the end of it heading into turn six the lead and other positions changed.
ON the first lap, Fenati took the lead for the first time heading into turn six forcing Martin down to second. Up at the front was Ramirez and his teammate, Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate). Throughout the race they were to prove they were more than capable of running with the lads at the front.
At the beginning of the second lap, Binder hinted at taking the lead from Fenati but did not. At the start of the lap he passed Ramirez to take fourth and was able to force his way forward quick to catch the leaders.
Huge highside for wildcard, Perez
Unfortunately for wildcard rider Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Racing Academy), he suffered a highside at turn 13 of the track; he was thrown up and over the bike and slammed down on the deck but fortunately looked like he did not sustain any serious injuries as he avoided his sliding bike.
Binder made his way to the front and took the lead for the first time at the start of lap three. He brought through his teammate who soon lost second position to Fenati. Fenati was back in the front by the end of the lap and Ramirez also bypassed Binder to sit in second.
Ramirez takes the lead for the first time
Ramirez became the new race leader on lap four heading into turn one, his showcase began as he looked so neat, tidy, controlled and smooth as he managed to brake late and fend off the rest of the pack that were attacking.
A group of 11 had broken away at the front and every time they attacked the main straight there would be a switch in positions. The overtaking hotspots were mainly turns one and six, and throughout the race the riders were practicing alternative lines through turn 13 in order to get the best run out of the final corner before they headed won the start-finish straight.
Canet goes from first to eight after a mistake
On the seventh lap of the 23 lap race, Canet had managed to muscle his way through to the front and briefly took the lead when he got a good drive out of turn 13. He ran wide however and nearly collided with Binder which resulted in him running on the paintwork making him lose more positions; he re-joined in eighth.
Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) was able to pass Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and managed to bring Canet passed with him. Soon Canet was fighting with Binder for fourth position again as he continued his recovery of positions lost earlier. On the ninth lap the two continued to battle before Binder passed Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) to take third from the championship leader.
Untidy Binder comes off following incident with Fenati
It was extraordinary as three battled for first heading into turn 13 on the 10th lap. An untidy looking Binder lost places again as Fenati emerged from the final turn in front. At one point the Australian was lifted up and out of his seat but quickly recovered.
On the lap that followed, heading down the back straight into turn six, Binder had once again made his way to the front past his teammate Ramirez as behind them Mir passed Fenati. Italian rider, Fenati quickly retaliated and was up to third looking to make his way to the front and was in second heading into turn 13.
He and Binder ended up coming into contact however and Binder came off when he was forced offline by Fenati; it was an incident that was to come under investigation by race control however they decided later on that no further action was to be taken. He was able to recover his bike but was well out of the points by the time he re-joined.
Bezzecchi forces Norrodin out of the race
On lap 13 a similar incident occurred with Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team) and Marco Bezzecchi (CIP) as they came together at turn six of the track. Bezzecchi ran wide and Norrodin spotted his mistake and tried to push off. Norrodin came of worse when he landed in the gravel however; it was race over for both of them.
End of an unfortunate weekend for McPhee in Jerez
On the 15th lap, the weekend went from bad to worse for Scottish rider, John McPhee and the British Talent Team. After coming off on the first day and damaging a finger on his left hand that hindered but did not stop him, McPhee who made the wrong tyre choice for qualifying started from 26th on the grid, had made his way up to 12th leading the second group but then came off at turn one sliding out when the front folded. He decided to retire and call the meeting to an early end.
At the front the battle continued. Ramirez continued to look sharp fending off 2016 race winner Fenati, Canet and Mir who were all desperate for the win. Canet, after his earlier incident managed to regain the lead on lap 18 after he passed Ramirez at turn 13. Mir passed Fenati to take third.
No telling who would win with five laps to go
Five laps remained and there was no telling who would win. The lead continued to change and with three laps remaining, Fenati placed himself in front at the end of the straight from turn six. A small group of six had broken away slightly as Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Bulega and Juanfran Guevara (RBA ROE Racing Team) had slipped of the back of the lead group.
Four fighting for the lead at the same corner
It appeared that Fenati may have got the break he needed as he was able to pull a couple of bike lengths on the others as they continued to battle behind him. But his break was short-lived as he was once again caught and after passing Ramirez, Mir overtook the Italian.
It was extraordinary as four headed into turn six, using the slipstream, Mir had the advantage using the extra power advantage from the tow to blast to the front. Ramirez opted for an outside line as they headed into the turn, but it ruined things for him and he was forced down to fourth. He soon recovered a spot from Canet, but Canet retaliated.
Canet executes the perfect move to take maiden win
Throughout the race it was clear that Canet had put into practice a move that he planned on executed on the final turn of the race. He was third with three corners of the race to go. Then it was time to make it work. He placed himself perfectly on the inside, took the lead on the apex and got the perfect drive out of the corner. It was a drag race to the line but his move was so perfect no one could catch him.
After disaster struck at the previous round at COTA, where he deserved the win after dominating throughout the weekend, Canet more than made up for his mistake and collected a fantastic first win, and on home turf at the Circuit de Jerez in Spain. He was incredibly emotional on the podium, fighting back the tears as he listened to the national anthem. Joining him on the podium was Fenati in second, the 2016 race winner finished ahead of Mir in third making it a Honda 1,2,3.
Ramirez deserved better than fourth
Unfortunately, the outside line for Ramirez cost him dearly and he finished the race in fourth just missing out on what would have been a well-deserved podium. He proved that he is more than capable of challenging the leaders, and deserved to be among the front runners; hopefully it means this is just the start of things to come for the Spaniard.
Di Giannantonio finished the race in fifth. Behind him in sixth was Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) who set the fastest lap of the race on the third lap with a time of 1:46.923. Seventh was his teammate Bulega ahead of Bastianini in eighth. Record breaking pole setter Martin finished the race in seventh ahead of Guevara who completed the top 10. Bo Bendsneyder collected a promising 11th place finish for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team that won the 2016 champion.
Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) was 12th ahead of Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA ROE Racing Team), Albert Arenas (Mahindra Northgate Aspar) as the highest placed Mahindra, and the highest placed rookie, Ayumu Sasaki (SIC Racing Team) collected the final point available in Jerez in 15th.
Loi misses out on the points
Just outside the points was Livio Loi (Leopard Racing) in 16th. Rookie, Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) was 17th ahead of Jakub Korbfeil (Peugeot MC Saxoprint), Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Mahindra Northgate Aspar) and Binder who recovered to complete the top 20.
Rookie Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) was 21st ahead of Antonelli also recovered from his crash to finish the race in 22nd. Rookie, Tony Arbolino (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was 23rd ahead of the only female in the pack, Maria Herrera (AGR Team) who crashed during the morning warm-up session. Wildcard, Raul Fernandez (Mahindra MRW Aspar Team) and rookies Patrik Pulkkinen (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) and Manuel Pagliani (CIP) completed the list of finishers in 26th and 27th.
Mir leads the championship after Jerez Moto3
The results from Jerez means that Mir is still leading the championship with 74 points ahead of Fenati whose 20 points from Spain keep him second on 65 points. Martin is third on 59 points ahead of McPhee who is left on 49 after his DNF. Canet;s race win means he is fifth with 43 points ahead of Di Giannantonio, Migno, Ramirez, Guevara and Bulega who make up the top 10.