Sepang International Circuit, 30 October 2016: Aspar Mahindra Team’s Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia surged to his second and the MGP3O’s third win of the 2016 season at today’s Malaysian GP, taking the lead on lap two, then surviving a race of attrition as his closest rivals joined an ever-growing crash list.
The win, at the 5.543-km circuit close to Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport, was a massive boost to the Italian teenager’s hopes of finishing high up in the championship, lifting him back to third overall after losing ground in recent races as the victim of other riders’ errors.
It was Mahindra’s third win this year, with John McPhee taking sister-manufacturer Peugeot’s MGP3O to victory at Brno, confirming the strength of the only Indian constructor in the World Championships, on the day that the nation is celebrating the festival of Diwali.
Bagnaia’s first win of the year was at Assen in the Netherlands, by a margin of 0.030 of a second, typical in the closest class in the series. Today’s victory was by a yawning gulf of 7.108 seconds, after he was the sole survivor when three riders fell out of the leading group on the second lap.
At that point he lay third in a close pack. Now Pecco was alone, and from there he had only to focus and concentrate, on a track where treacherous conditions saw only 17 finishers out of 31 starters.
After 14 of the scheduled 18 laps had been completed – more than the required two-thirds distance for a full result – the race was red flagged, with results taken from lap 13.
Bagnaia had been a candidate for victory even without the crashes of his rivals. Strong throughout practice in wet or dry conditions, he had qualified on the front row of the grid for the third time this year, and set fastest time in morning warm-up. In fact, Pecco was never lower than third at the end of any session at the Malaysian GP.
Second Aspar Mahindra Team rider Jorge Martin was one of many crash victims, involved in a multi-bike accident on only the first lap. The Spanish teenager got to his feet and escaped serious injury, but was later helicoptered to hospital to investigate a concussion.
Independent Mahindra team riders fared well with Marcos Ramirez sixth, repeating his first top ten of the previous weekend in Australia; and Darryn Binder likewise, finishing tenth. Stefano Valtulini and Lorenzo Petrarca also scored points, for 13th and 14th.
The Malaysian GP was the last of a trio of consecutive flyaway races. The season comes to an end at Valencia in two weeks.
Francesco Bagnaia – First Place
“I think this is the hardest race of my life. I was pushing to my best. When I saw I had opened the gap to second I thought I needed to concentrate more and I focused on the win. To win today is a great result after a sometimes tough season, especially recently. This is the third win for Mahindra and my second win, truly an amazing feeling for me.”
Mufaddal Choonia – CEO, Mahindra Racing
“It’s the Diwali weekend and I don’t think there can be a better Diwali gift for anyone in Mahindra today than a win here in Malaysia. It was such a difficult race due to the heat and humidity, and to keep pushing on in these conditions and win is absolutely monumental from Pecco. I am concerned however for the well-being of the riders who crashed in the race today, including Jorge Martin. I hope they are all fine. After we were robbed of a possible podium in Australia, we achieved an ideal result here. Pecco also moves to third in the championship, which is another fantastic result today.”
About Mahindra Racing
In 2016, Mahindra Racing is competing as a constructor in its fifth year in the Moto3™ class of MotoGP™ and remains the only Indian constructor in the series, having first participated in 2011. Mahindra Racing supplies the Mahindra MGP3O single-cylinder, 4-stroke, 250cc motorcycle to the factory Aspar Mahindra Team and three customer teams. Mahindra also supplies an official Peugeot Motocycles derivative of the MGP3O to the factory Peugeot MC Saxoprint Team.
The 2016 Mahindra Racing line-up includes: Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3 - Jorge Martin (SPA), Francesco Bagnaia (ITA); Peugeot MC Saxoprint – Albert Arenas (SPA), John Mcphee (GB); Platinum Bay Real Estate – Marcos Ramirez (SPA), Darryn Binder (RSA); CIP-Unicom Starker- Fabio Spiranelli (ITA), Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN); 3570 Team Italia - Stefano Valtulini (ITA), Lorenzo Petrarca (ITA).
Mahindra Racing made history in the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix taking the first-ever podium for an Indian constructor. The MGP3O recorded top-five finishes in 10 of the 17 rounds in 2013 as well as a pole position, three circuit lap records and third in the constructors’ rankings. The 2014 season saw a further three podium finishes for the Indian motorcycle, including second place at the Sachsenring. In 2015, the Mahindra regularly fought at the front of the ultra-competitive Moto3™ class and recorded a podium finish at Le Mans.
2016 got off to a strong start for Mahindra Racing with Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3 rider Francesco (Pecco) Bagnaia securing a third place podium finish at the opening round in Qatar. The podiums continued in Jerez and Mugello before Pecco made history with victory in Assen, Mahindra’s first in the World Championship. It was a historic day for everyone involved and proved the high level performance capabilities of the MGP3O.
As well as its commitment in the World Championship, Mahindra continues to supply MGP3O machines to Team Aspar to compete in World Championship feeder series, the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Championship in 2016.
Mahindra’s bold decision to take on the world’s best at the highest level of motorcycle racing has won the team a number of prestigious awards in India, including: the NDTV Car and Bike Awards - 'Mobil 1 Motorsport Award of the Year', 2012 and 2013; the Bike India Magazine - 'Motorsport Award', 2013; and 'ZigWheels Motorsport Award of the Year', 2012. Mahindra also won ‘Racing Bike of the Year’ at the Zeeignition Auto Awards, 2016
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