The Moto3 season this year has allowed us to witness so many wonderful and exciting things, from so many riders claiming their best ever results, pin qualifying and during races, 10 different riders claimed pole positions, there have been nine different winners, and the first South African champion in years and then they all accumulated in the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, in Valencia, Spain for the Gran Premio Motul de la Communitat Valenciana for the last time this season.
Canet on his first ever Moto3 pole
Rookie Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) claimed his first ever pole position in the 250cc class ahead of the race after a late flying lap was enough to secure him the prime spot. He will be joined on the front row by the 2016 Moto3 champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia). Things were close as there were 27 riders within one second of the leader.
Riders penaltied prior to the season finale
Rookie Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) should have been starting from the front on the second row in fourth, however he was one of several riders who were penalised after Qualifying. Bulega will start 12 positions further down in 16th as a result of ‘irresponsible riding’. Nicolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) also got penalised 12 positions and will start from 18th, as was Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo).
A lot at stake in Valencia as some riders bid farewell
Although the championship was decided prior to this round, there were still loads of decisions to be made. Brad Binder could possibly win the championship with the most amount of wins in one season. Second in the championship was yet to be decided, as well of the rest of the standings, and also the title of ‘Rookie of the Year’ had to be decided in Valencia (Bulega had the lead heading into the race by five points), and not forgetting the manufacturer’s championship.
It was set to be a very emotional final race of the 2016 Moto3 season, especially for six riders in particular who would be leaving the 250cc class as they have been provisionally promoted to the Moto2 class. This includes, Brad Binder, Jorge Navarro (Pull & Bear Aspar Mahindra), Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing), Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing), Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) and Francesco Bagnaia (Pull & Bear Aspar Mahindra)
The air temperature was 20 degrees Celsius as was the track temperature, there was a mere 1mph hour wind, and every single one of those riders were pumped and ready to get the 24 lap race underway… what a finale is was set to be. Unfortunately for the pole position man Canet, he broke down after the warm-up lap and had to start from pit lane.
Ono leads into turn one of the Valencia Moto3
Ono got a fantastic start and led into the first turn. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) tucked in behind him ahead of Brad Binder in third. Bastianini made several attempts to overtake Ono and eventually made his way passed midway through the lap. Several corners later, he lost another place to Brad Binder. But Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) was on the move and as they crossed the line he took the lead of the season finale.
As they came towards of the first lap, Gabriel Rodrigo came off his RBA Racing Team KTM, and when he went down he accidentally took Francesco Bagnaia out with him as he was travelling so closely behind him. Although they both had a heavy crash they did not seem too hurt, however Rodrigo was checking his right shoulder.
Problems for Brad Binder who runs off track
Brad Binder also experienced problems as he was forced to sit up and check his bike off track as he experienced two bouts of no power in two corners. He dropped to 21st in the field by the time he returned to the track.
Meanwhile, back at the front, Joan Mir who was hoping for the win and was looking to claim the title as the 2016 Moto2 Rookie of the Year took to the front for the first time in the race as they crossed the start-finish line and rode into turn one. He was immediately able to pull away slightly as the rest of the field sorted themselves out behind him.
Turn one proved to be very significant in Valencia
All of the action throughout the race seemed to come mainly heading into turn one at the end of the start-finish straight as the riders opted to use the long straight of almost a kilometre, to sit behind the rider in front in their slipstream, and use the extra power saved to make their move as the entered the first left hander.
On the fourth lap, Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) made his way past Bastianini who ended up losing two places, as his teammate Di Giannantonio also took advantage of the distraction; Bastianini was able to regain the position from Di Giannantonio as they continued on.
Big crash for Dalla Porta
Then Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Sky Racing Team VR46) had a massive crash coming off at the fast turn one. He completely missed the braking point and went out wide at the turn; when he fell, both he and the bike tumbled through the gravel ending his season early. Raul Fernandez, who is standing in for injured Maria Herrera for the MH6 Team, lost several positions in his attempts to avoid the Italian who was fortunately not seriously hurt.
Brad Binder begins his recovery
Further down the field, Brad Binder had already began recovering positions, he was up to 16th from 21st by lap five and was continuing to push, gaining another three position over the next lap. He soon ended up in a battle with his brother Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) and the factory rider came out on top and continued in his pursuit of the leaders.
The battle continued at the front as Migno passed Bastianini to take third. When they crossed the line to start the seventh lap, Di Giannantonio who was in second, lost two positions to Migno and Bastianini. Bastianini then made an attempt on Migno but he retaliated and preventing him from making it stick.
Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing), who was wanting to repeat his success from the last round in Sepang, was in sixth and was catching Guevara and forcing the Spaniard to catch up to the leaders ahead of them. Kornfeil managed to catch Guevara on lap eight and continued in his pursuit. The other rider who appeared to be on the move was Bulega, who despite his shoulder injury from the last round, he had made his way up to 15th.
Mir loses the lead due to a penalty from Race Control
Then, unfortunately for Mir, he was penalised for overtaking on a yellow flag. He was notified on his dashboard that he was to give back one position on track as when the crash had occurred involving Rodrigo and Bagnaia, he overtook but a yellow flag had been waved. This mean that the Spanish rookie had to concede the gap he had built up, and carefully ensured that only Migno who was second passed him. It did not take long for him to reclaim the lead back from Migno, as behind them Brad Binder was up to 11th.
As they began lap 10, Di Giannantonio was able to take second from Migno. Bastianini had worked his way past Migno and soon passed Di Giannantonio, but then he lost out on third to Migno as well. The Sky Racing Team VR46 rider then went on to overtake Bastianini on turn 13. His surge through the leaders continued as he tucked in behind Mir on the start-finish straight, and as they entered turn one of lap 10, he brought Bastianini with him forcing Mir down to third.
Brad Binder part of the lead group that formed
A group of nine had formed, and it was soon to become 11. Brad Binder had worked his way up to eighth as by lap 11, and they continued to switch positions in the lead group as Bastianini, who had lost a few postions, was able to salvage one from Di Giannantonio, and Navarro passed Guevara for seventh. Bulega, siltl challenging for the title of ‘Rookie of the Year’ had made his way up to 12th and had a clear track ahead of him as he worked to catch the leaders.
On the next lap, Brad Binder made his way up to sixth and Di Giannantonio regained the position he lost to his teammate previously. It seemed as though things settled down for a bit miday through the race, possibly as the riders tried to take an opportunity to conserve tyres, energy and fuel for the end of the race.
The battle continues at the front
But then again, this is the Moto3 and no one likes to hang around in this class. Brad Binder continued his challenge as he made his way past Kornfeil to move up to fifth. On the 14th lap, he overtook Bastianini, and on the start-finish straight as they began lap 15, he slipstreamed Di Giannantonio and managed to slot past him going into turn one to take third. However, he then ran wide at turn eight.
Mir used the slipstream of Migno to his advantage on the next lap and was able to pass him going in to turn one to take the lead again. Behind him, Bastianini re-passed Di Giannantonio, but then the Italian threw it back up the inside of him on the next lap. Kornfeil had unfortunately dropped off the back of the group, he then learned of a penalty that he had received that meant he had to give a position back and so Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) benefited from that.
Bulega had lost several positions dropping to 16th, and as he tried to recover them, Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was able to pass Tatsuki Suzuki for 15th. Elsewhere, Martin passed wildcard replacement Fernandez to take 10th. Fernandez also lost another position to Darryn Binder.
Brad Binder takes the lead in Valencia
Just five laps remained and Brad Binder again used the slipstream to catch and overtake Migno heading into turn one to take second. He then repeated this move at the beginning of the next lap and took the lead again; it was an amazing recovery from down in 21st. Bastianini was then able to make his way past Migno to steal third but Migno retaliated a few corners later. His attention then turned to Mir as he challenged him for second; Mir was initially able to defend his position but soon lost second to the Italian.
With three laps to go, Bastianini was also able to pass Mir, but then Brad Binder made a mistake which caused him to slip down to fourth allowing Migno to regain the lead ahead of Mir and Bastianini. Migno’s lead did not last long as Mir slip-streamed him heading down the start-finish straight and overtook him at the second turn of the circuit. Binder was able to recover second as Bastianini went wide as he was making an attempt to pass Migno and while they were distracted Binder took advantage.
Binder recovers his lead
On the penultimate lap, Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV) was handed a penalty and was forced to give up another position which meant he had to drop down to 16th and out of the points. Binder had worked hard to catch leader Mir, and by the end of the lap he was right on his tail. Heading into turn one, at the end of the straight, he managed to again make his move again and took the lead for the final time in the race, and this season.
The riders worked hard to chase him and stuck with him throughout the final lap. He was never released from the pressure from those behind him as they looked for an opportunity to pass right up until the end, but he kept his lines defensive. Migno was able to overtake Bastianini to claim third in the final stages.
Brad Binder wins his last Moto3 race in Valencia
As they approached the final corner of the race, and the 2016 Mir made one final attempt to overtake and claim his first win, but Brad Binder held him off and passed the finish line in front. He won the race, and the season, and it was the perfect way to say goodbye and thank you to his Moto3 team; he now certainly enters the Moto2 championship on a high. Brad Binder also set the fastest lap of the race on lap 10 with a time of 1:39.684.
Mir wins ‘Rookie of the Year’ in the 2016 Moto3 Championship
Mir finished the race in second, but in doing so he claimed the title of the 2016 Moto2 ‘Rookie of the Year2; his pace all weekend was superb. Migno completed the final Moto3 podium of the season in third and also making it a KTM one, two, three as the Austrian manufacturer became the 2016 Manufacturers’ championship.
Just missing out on the podium, but still finishing second in the Moto2 championship, Bastianini in fourth managed to pull it off in Valencia. Di Giannantonio was fifth ahead of Guevara, Kornfeil, and Oettl. Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was ninth which was enough to secure him third in the championship standings as he benefited from Bagnaia crashing out and failing to claim any points; Bagnaia finished fourth in the championship and will progress through to Moto2 next year.
Martin completed the top 10 ahead of wildcard replacement rider Fernandez who was 11th on his Moto3 debut. Darryn Binder finished 12th ahead of Bendsneyder, Quartararo and Lois who collected the final championship point available of 2016. Just outside the points was Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold), Bulega, Suzuki, Canet who could only recover to 19th, and Locatelli who completed the top 20 before he too is promoted to Moto2.
Ono finished 21st despite his front row start, ahead of wildcard rider Karel Hanika (Freudenberg Racing Team), wildcard replacement rider for John McPhee, Vicente Perez on the Peugeot MC Saxoptrint Mahindra. His temporary teammate Albert Arenas followed in 24th ahead of Pawi in 25th on his final Moto3 race. Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold), Adam Norrodin (Drive m7 sic Racing Team), Lorenzo Petrarca (357 Team Italia), wildcard rider Daniel Saez (Ga Cempeticion), Enzo Bouldom (CIP-Unicorn Starker), replacing Fabio Spiranelli, and Stefano Valtulini (3570 Team Italia) completed the standings in 31st.