#MalaysianGP – MOTO3: Veijer strikes gold to beat Sasaki and Masia in Malaysia
Moto3™ action at the PETRONAS Grand Prix of Malaysia served as the perfect appetiser on Sunday’s billing at the Sepang International Circuit and it was Dutch Rookie Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) who stole the headlines with a hard-fought debut victory. Veijer came out on top after going head-to-head with his teammate Ayumu Sasaki and the latter’s title rival Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) as the gap between the top two in the title race drops to 13 points with two races to go.
Masia started from pole position but a mad rush into Turn 1 saw the Championship leader drop down to P2 as Veijer came charging through into Turn 1. Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) was looking lively as Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Sasaki put themselves into contention. Masia followed for a lap but then made his move on Veijer whilst Sasaki and Öncü were on a charge. Sasaki carved his way through the pack like a knife through butter and took the lead from Masia to make his presence known and initiate battle.
The pair proceeded to swap paintwork as the laps ticked away and a freight train of riders queued up behind the leading duo. A crash for David Alonso (GASGAS Aspar Team) saw Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) also crash as two title contenders went down together, with Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia), Riccardo Rossi (Sic58 Squadra Corse) and Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) also caught up in the incident. This left a six-bike battle for victory as Sasaki, Masia, Veijer, Öncü, Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team), and Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) were all scrapping it out for Malaysian Grand Prix glory.
It was getting all very hot at the front until it boiling point ahead of the penultimate lap. The group was reduced to just three after a final corner collision between Ajo teammates Öncü and Rueda saw both riders go down, with Bertelle also getting caught up in the incident – that dropped the Italian to P9. This left Masia, Sasaki, and Veijer to scrap it out for victory with two laps remaining. Veijer led the way at the start of the final lap as he fended off attacks from his teammate Sasaki, with the Dutch rider leading the way into the final sector. After a strong defensive performance from the rookie, he fended off Sasaki and Masia – who gave everything they had into the final corner – for a famous first lightweight class win.
Six and a half seconds back from the battle for victory was Ivan Ortola who fended off David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports), Adrian Fernandez (Leopard Racing), and Xavier Artigas (CFMoto Racing PruestelGP) for 4th place. Joel Kelso (CFMoto Racing PruestelGP) was the final rider in that battle as the Aussie took 8th. Just over three seconds further back was the Italian Filippo Farioli (Red Bull KTM Tech3) who finished in 9th. The Rookie got the better of Ryusei Yamanaka (GASGAS Aspar Team) and Matteo Bertelle who finished in 10th and 11th respectively. After hitting the deck with his teammate Deniz Öncü rejoined the race to finish in 12th. The Turk crossed the line half a second up the road from Vicente Perez (BOE Motorsports) who bagged P13 ahead of the VisionTrack Racing Team duo of Scott Ogden and Joshua Whatley.
- Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP)
- Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) +0.066
- Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) +0.328
- Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) +6.830
- David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) +6.878
- Adrian Fernandez (Leopard Racing) +7.191
- Xavier Artigas (CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP) +7.354
- Joel Kelso (CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP) +7.400
- Filippo Farioli (Red Bull KTM Tech3) +11.175
- Ryusei Yamanaka (GASGAS Aspar Team) +11.287
“It’s been a difficult race to manage. Today it’s been hotter than yesterday and the rear grip was on the limit in every single corner. I’m happy with the result as we maintain the lead and get another podium. We have been working race by race, and we will face Qatar in exactly the same way. We’ll keep fighting until the end.”
Jaume Masia P3
“The Losail circuit is one of my favourites. We will focus on improving our race pace and getting a bike set-up with which I can feel comfortable from the first practice.”
Ryusei Yamanaka P9
“The race here in Sepang hasn’t finished as we expected. After just five laps, I had a big issue because the rear tire temperature increased over the limits, which made it difficult to accelerate in all the corners, especially in the hairpin. With this heat, I struggled to get the speed. But I should take the positive learnings of this weekend. Even if it’s not enough, I improved my lap time considerably compared to last year’s race. I couldn’t be happier about my race of today. Qatar is an entirely different kind of track; I will keep focus for next weekend’s race there.”
Mario Suryo Aji P19
“After a decent start I made up some positions in the early laps, which is always my weak point, and managed to catch up with the front group. It was a pity that a rider in front of me crashed and I couldn’t play it as I wanted to.”
Riccardo Rossi NC
Click the button below to find out all the images of the #KytCrew during the weekend in Malaysia.