MotoGP Austria: Sasaki stuns for second Moto3 victory

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Sterilgarda Husqvarna’s Ayumu Sasaki rode a stunning recovery ride to take the AustrianGP Moto3 victory after a double penalty at the Red Bull Ring.

Having dropped outside of the top 20 in the opening laps, a lightning quick recovery saw Sasaki back in the hunt after repeated fastest laps before holding off Leopard’s Tatsuki Suzuki and BOE Motorsports’ David Muñoz for the full 25 points.

The lightweight class lined up behind Red Bull KTM rookie Daniel Holgado at the manufacturer’s home track ahead of the 23-lap race. While Saturday’s forecast rain failed to materialise, Sunday was looking more ominous as the clouds continued to threaten overhead. The new chicane providing another unknown for the opening laps as the action prepared.

Lights out and it was Tech3’s Deniz Öncü who grabbed control with Sasaki taking second from Holgado. Leopard’s Suzuki and Dennis Foggia split by Diogo Moreira as the Aspar pairing of Izan Guevara and Sergio Garcia sat seventh and eighth.

Sasaki swept through to lead as Suzuki advanced to third, with the poleman hitting back for the final podium position moments later. The Sterilgarda rider facing a double long lap penalty as the opening laps of the race unfolded.

A four-rider battle found Suzuki in the lead as Sasaki took the first of his penalties. Holgado and Öncü retuning to dominance as fellow rookie Muñoz arrived from nowhere to contest the podium with the championship leader neatly behind.

Foggia was cut adrift as the Silverstone winner found himself down the order in ninth, John McPhee suffering a similar fate as he circulated in 17th with teammate Sasaki now one place ahead with VisionTrack’s Scott Ogden and Josh Whatley running 22nd and 29th respectively.

Suzuki and Muñoz battled for outright honours as lap five got underway. Öncü forced to take avoiding action across the gravel after almost collecting the BOE rider and returning to the action in ninth.

Guevara lead the way as lap six fired up. The mid-pack tripping each other up down the start/finish straight as the leading group totalled 22 riders with Ogden slotting in between the Husqvarna pair in 19th.

Sasaki set the fastest lap of the race so far as he looked to recover from his double loop excursion. The Japanese rider already climbing to 13th as he scythed through the group with Rivacold Snipers’ Andrea Migno the next in his sights.

Guevara remained in control with a third distance dispatched. Suzuki, Holgado and teammate Garcia running top four from Muñoz, Moreira and Öncü with MTA’s Ivan Ortola, Stefano Nepa and Foggia completing the top ten before Sasaki arrived to scalp the Italian.

Carlos Tatay succumbed to the Spielberg circuit as the CFMoto PruestelGP crashed out at turn three. Sasaki continuing to build the pressure with another fastest lap on his way to eighth.

A 1’40.995 brought the Husqvarna up to fifth as he dispatched the championship leader and a pair of rookies with Öncü the next in line between him and the podium places. Migno receiving a long lap penalty for irresponsible riding after his part in Tatay’s earlier fall.

McPhee was in to the points and running 14th at the halfway stage as Sasaki made moves ten places ahead. The podium quickly achieved before he bettered with a return to second and then hit the front at turn three.

Suzuki remained firmly on the wheels of the lightning quick leader with ten laps to go as Sasaki failed to break the pursuing pack. Garcia claiming the final podium position from Öncü and Guevara as both Aspar riders received track limits warnings.

McPhee was up to 12th with Foggia narrowly ahead as lap 16 concluded. The Italian struggling and losing touch with the pack ahead as the Scot dispatched him next time around in a bid to reel them back in.

KTM’s Jaume Masia slid out at turn three with seven laps to go as the GasGas pair continued to battle for sixth. Sasaki maintaining a tenth advantage out front with Suzuki and Öncü holding on to their podium hopes from impressive rookies Muñoz and Moreira.

Ogden was circulating just shy of the points with five to go but with five seconds to bridge to PruestelGP’s Xavi Artigas ahead. McPhee into the top ten but with his own second to find to Ortola.

Öncü and Muñoz bickered for third as the race counted down, Suzuki the only rider able to go with Sasaki out front with a four-rider battle brewing for fifth. McPhee up to ninth but out of time to join the fight almost four seconds ahead.

The final lap found Sasaki leading a trio of determined riders as the four-rider pack remained tight at the front. Muñoz and Öncü continuing their scrap for third as the BOE capitalised to secure the spoils in the final seconds. Sasaki victorious for the second time in 2022 from a hard pushing Suzuki. The pair separated by 0.064s at the line with the rookie claiming the fastest lap of the race to complete the celebrations.

Garcia completed the action in fifth from Moreira, Guevara and Holgado with McPhee and CIP Green Power’s Kaito Toba completing the top ten. Ogden met the flag in 16th but was deducted a three second penalty dropping him to 21st with Whatley 29th.

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