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Qatar Moto3: Masia wins wild season opener in Ajo KTM 1-2

Jaume Masia won a thrilling Moto3 Qatar Grand Prix on his KTM Ajo debut, fending off rookie teammate Pedro Acosta and Darryn Binder on the run to the line.

Qatar Moto3: Masia wins wild season opener in Ajo KTM 1-2

Masia has switched from Leopard Honda to Aki Ajo’s KTM squad for 2021, and completed a stunning final lap to claim his fourth career victory by just 0.042 seconds.

Petronas Sprinta’s Binder grabbed the holeshot from pole position, while Gresini’s Gabriel Rodrigo slotted in behind, as one of the pre-race favourites Dennis Foggia (Leopard Honda) was clattered out of the race at Turn 3 by Avintia’s Carlos Tatay - who was handed a long lap penalty for the incident.

Rodrigo powered his Honda into the lead on the run into Turn 1 at the start of the second tour, before a moment later in the lap allowed KTM Ajo rookie Acosta to move ahead.

Such is the power of the slipstream in Qatar, the lead changed hands constantly across the race, with Binder, Rodrigo, Acosta, Ajo teammate Masia, CIP’s Kaito Toba and Tech 3’s Ayumu Sasaki taking turns heading the pack.

The lead group was thinned on lap three when rookie Xavi Artigas out-braked himself into Turn 6 and wiped out Petronas Sprinta’s John McPhee, Jeremy Alcoba on the second Gresini Honda and Avintia’s Andrea Migno.

As the race entered its final three laps, the lead group stood at 13 riders, with Sasaki leading the freight train.

He stayed mounted despite a small mistake at Turn 13, but was powerless to stop Masia coming through to lead at the start of the penultimate lap.

As the lead group concertinaed, Niccolo Antonelli found his way through from ninth to first on the penultimate lap on his Avintia KTM.

Masia used the power of the slipstream to reclaim the lead on the run into Turn 1 on the final lap, with teammate Acosta moving into second while Sasaki’s charge ended with a crash at Turn 2.

Across the final lap Masia did not put a foot wrong, nailing his run out of the final corner to keep Acosta and Binder at bay – the trio covered by 0.052s.

Sergio Garcia gave KTM’s new brand GASGAS a solid debut in fourth on his Aspar-run machine, with Rodrigo completing the top five.

Antonelli was shuffled back to sixth at the chequered flag following his brief run in the lead, with Aspar rookie Izan Guevara seventh on his debut ahead of Toba.

SIC58 Honda’s Tatsuki Suzuki came from the back of the grid to finish ninth having missed the Qatar pre-season test due to COVID-19, while Jason Dupasquier rounded out the top 10 on the Prustel GP KTM.

Tatay recovered from his long lap penalty to score points in 11th, the Spaniard pipping Max Racing Husqvarna’s Romano Fenati – who served two long lap penalties for jumping the start.

Artigas pulled out of the race after re-joining from his early collision, with that incident under investigation. 

Update: Toba and Tatay were hit with post-race penalties for exceeding track limits. That promoted Suzuki to eighth ahead of Toba, Dupasquier, Fenati and Tatay.

Race results:

Cla # Rider Bike Time Gap
1 5 Spain Jaume Masia
KTM
2 37 Pedro Acosta
KTM 0.042
3 40 South Africa Darryn Binder
Honda 0.094
4 11 Spain Sergio García
GASGAS 0.435
5 2 Argentina Gabriel Rodrigo
Honda 0.880
6 23 Italy Niccolo Antonelli
KTM 0.899
7 28 Izan Guevara
GASGAS 0.965
8 24 Japan Tatsuki Suzuki
Honda 2.214
9 27 Japan Kaito Toba
KTM 1.950
10 50 Switzerland Jason Dupasquier
KTM 2.219
11 55 Italy Romano Fenati
Husqvarna 2.316
12 99 Spain Carlos Tatay
KTM 2.298
13 12 Czech Republic Filip Salač
Honda 2.345
14 6 Japan Ryusei Yamanaka
KTM 2.434
15 73 Austria Maximilian Kofler
KTM 14.768
16 92 Japan Yuki Kunii
Honda 14.834
17 31 Mexico Adrian Fernandez
Husqvarna 22.187
18 82 Italy Stefano Nepa
KTM 22.277
19 20 Lorenzo Fellon
Honda 28.282
20 53 Turkey Deniz Öncü
KTM 41.283
21 19 Indonesia Andi Gilang
Honda 44.976
22 71 Japan Ayumu Sasaki
KTM
23 43 Xavier Artigas
Honda
24 17 United Kingdom John McPhee
Honda
25 16 Italy Andrea Migno
Honda
26 52 Spain Jeremy Alcoba
Honda
27 54 Italy Riccardo Rossi
KTM
28 7 Italy Dennis Foggia
Honda
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About this article

Series Moto3
Event Losail
Sub-event Race
Author Lewis Duncan