Britain’s Danny Kent made it three in a row at the Gran Premio bwin de España, as it came down to a typical last corner Moto3™ battle.
Cooler track conditions meant that tyres and grip would be less of an issue in the Moto3™ race; all riders opting for the medium compound front and rear. Despite qualifying down in 17th, Efren Vazquez had shown a strong pace in similar track conditions earlier in the week. He made a solid start and was with the leading group for several laps but began to drop back in the closing stages. The Basque rider reporting that he felt light headed and weak during the race, similar to how he felt in Argentina when suffering from a fever.
A battle between Kent, Oliveira, Binder and Quartararo quickly emerged for the win with the quartet breaking away from the rest of the field. Each had their turn at leading but a gap of more than 0.3s never emerged despite Kent trying to make a break on several occasions. After his dominant breakaway victories in Austin and Argentina, his competitors made sure to keep Kent within striking distance. The Dry Sack corner, as well as Turn 1, were the favourite overtaking points of the day.
Fabio Quartararo, having started on pole, took every opportunity he could to pass on the brakes into Dry Sack. Despite being new to the Moto3™ class at the World Championship level, the French youngster is not short of aggression and challenged for the win throughout the race, not wanting to settle simply for a podium.
This determination was highlighted at the last corner on the last lap where Quartararo tried an ambitious move on Danny Kent from quite far back that saw him slide into the Brit and narrowly avoid taking them both down. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider did demonstrate great skill is staying upright, able to secure fourth. This weekend has shown that with track knowledge 16-year-old Quartararo can fight for the win, but perhaps needs a steadier approach, especially in the closing laps.
Despite the contact, Danny Kent was able to retain his lead ahead of the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo and win his third race in a row, becoming the first Brit to do so across all three classes since Barry Sheene won three 500cc in 1977. A firm 31 point lead in the championship over his Leopard Racing teammate Vazquez puts Kent in a comfortable position for the next races, allowing him to settle for podiums instead of risking a crash by pushing too hard. “I knew Quartararo would try to do something like that, he’s been strong here all weekend. We all had the same plan to go for the inside at the final corner, luckily we all stayed on,” reflected Kent.
During most weekends this season Miguel Oliveira has looked strong but suffered bad luck during the races and subsequently been ruled out of podium contention. Luck and speed were on the Portuguese rider’s side as he was finally able to show his potential and achieve his first podium on the KTM, finishing second. Oliveira was forced to sit up slightly at Turn 13, but maintained his drive to finish just behind Kent. On the last corner incident he said, “I wanted to close as much as I could. I thought only one rider could fit in the last corner, I think we set a new record for how many bikes can fit in there. I was lucky not to crash in the last corner.”
Brad Binder completed the podium, also on the Red Bull KTM Ajo bike. The KTM showing a more competitive effort at Jerez than the previous three rounds. The top six saw a 50-50 split of Hondas and KTMs, as the Austrian manufacturer continues to improve its Moto3™ package. KTM were hindered by a lack of dry weather testing with their new 2015 bike.
Lap 10 was perhaps the most impressive aspect of Binder’s podium as the South African set a 1’46.723, over 0.2s faster than anyone else in the race. His time was not only faster that Quartararo’s pole time, but also set a new circuit record. The South African was happy to be back on the podium, having struggled with grip in the closing stages. “The last three laps were tough. I’m happy to be back on the podium; it’s been a few races since the last one! It was a fun race, really nice clean fighting with everyone,” he commented.
Drama did not stop at Turn 13 for some Moto3™ riders, as Karel Hanika received five penalty points for irresponsible riding on the cool down lap, resulting in Juanfran Guevara crashing and suffering a broken collar bone. Hanika now has seven penalty points and will start the next race from pit lane. “I don’t understand exactly what happened after today’s race. On the last lap I overtook Hanika. When I was passing him, we brushed into one another. After we had finished the race I noticed that someone was knocking into me along my footrest. I could not quite understand his reaction,” commented Guevara.
Philipp Oettl, Alessando Tonucci and Niccolo Antonelli all had to retire with technical issues. Maria Herrera crashed and sustained some minor injuries but should be fit for Le Mans.