Not only did Khairul Pawi make this fantastic achievement at the young age of seventeen, the Moto3 rider won with a 26.170 second lead with Honda Team Asia in compromising weather conditions.
The Termas De Hondo race circuit in Argentina was like a completely different place compared to the circuit riders practiced in on Thursday. The weather had changed dramatically from the scorching hot conditions to thunderstorms overnight before the race. Pawi looked strong throughout the warm-up which was extremely wet, but by the time it came to the Moto3 race the track had started to dry out; it was still raining slightly in sections.
Fenati led into the first corner with caution
It was Sky Racing VR46 rider Romano Fenati who led into the first corner but approached very cautiously and lost many places. Fenati ended up going backwards and spent the race battling for twentieth position.
Pawi soon led despite being one of the three riders who had been penalised for overuse of the track and had to start a row behind where he had qualified. He quickly began to break away from the pack and was followed RW Racing GP BV Honda rider Livio Loi, who had chosen to run on wet tyres, and Drive M7 SIC Racing Team rider Adam Norrodin. These were followed by a group of five riders led by Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Jorge Navarro.
Loi chose wrong when selecting wet tyres
Navarro soon broke away from the group which meant his teammate Aron Canet became the lead rider in the group that started to undergo the typical Moto3 race that is witnessed regularly; where riders continuously slip down long straights and overtake after out-braking their opponent in the corner. Navarro was in pursuit of Norrodin who soon caught Loi; Loi struggled with his tyre choice and despite the marshals waving the rain flag in certain parts of the track, the tyre choice turned out to be the wrong one and Loi fell down the leader-board, he finished in sixteenth just outside of the points.
Fourteen laps remained and Pawi had now built up a twenty second lead which is unheard of these days within the 125cc class. His pace improved as the track dried and he continued to reduce his fastest lap times.
Normal Moto3 behaviour occured behind the lead riders
The battle continued amongst the group of riders that followed the lead riders who had broken away: the group consisted of Joan Mir (Leopard Racing), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Canet, Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) and Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia). Behind them John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) and Locatelli came very close as McPhee claimed a place from the Italian. Further down the field Fenati and McPhee’s teammate Alexis Masbou came into contact as they battled for twentieth position.
Just three laps remained and Pawi had no started to lap the back-markers however it did not seem to stop him down in anyway; his pit crew spent the majority of the race signaling to him from the wall to slow down. Canet crashed out at turn seven and had no choice but to leave his bike in the centre of the track; marshals were able to retrieve his bike eventually narrowly escaping the track before more riders arrived at the corner.
Pawi became the first Malaysian to win at a world class level
Pawi went on to win his first Moto3 race at the mere age of 17 while becoming the first ever Malaysian to win at this level. He finished with a lead of 26.70 seconds ahead of second place Navarro. Navarro and Norrodin had battled right up until the very last corner, but Norrodin unfortunately spun out and he had no choice but to pick his bike up and run with it to cross the finish line in a brave eleventh place; despite injuring his leg during the fall.
Brad Binder goes to top of Championship table
This meant that Brad Binder claimed valuable points, after starting in pole position, towards his championship as he finished in third (leaving him top of the Championship) ahead of Locatelli and Mir; who now holds the record for the fastest Moto3 lap with a time of 1:56.365 set on lap twenty-one.
Ono finished in sixth position ahead of the fastest Peugeot rider McPhee in seventh; the British rider had a fantastic race despite struggling throughout the start of the season. The fastest Mahindra was that of ASPAR Mahindra Team Moto3 rider Jorge Martin who finished in eighth ahead of Kornfeil and Ongetta-Rivacold rider Niccolo Antonelli who won the season opener in Qatar.
Success for the only female in the pack
Juanfran Guevara (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) finished twelfth on his Honda ahead of Leopard Racing Team rider Fabio Quartararo. The only female in the class Maria Herrera got another impressive and well-deserved result finishing in fourteenth which was ahead of Philipp Oettl on his Schedl GP Racing KTM; he was the last to claim any points towards the championship.