Twin Ring Motegi, 16 October 2016: Team Aspar Mahindra rider Pecco Bagnaia claimed a fighting top-ten finish at today's Japanese GP, coming through from 12th on the grid to tussle with the lead group, and cross the line in seventh, fending off his closest rival by one hundredth of a second.
The 19-year-old Italian was able to capitalise on a brilliant start and the sweet handling of his Mahindra MGP3O, finishing the first lap in third place, and soon moving to second.
The winner of the Dutch TT in June held his own in a typically close brawling leading pack, only losing touch as his tyres lost grip in the closing stages of the 20-lap race round the 4.801-km circuit in the Japanese countryside north-east of Tokyo.
His efforts far exceeded a difficult two days of practice and qualifying at a stop-start circuit that doesn't play to the Mahindra’s strengths, when he moved up into 12th only in the final session.
Team-mate Jorge Martin, sixth last time out in Aragon, also defied the odds with a heroic effort after sustaining left leg injuries in a heavy crash in practice. Fighting the pain and weakness, he qualified 23rd fastest. He too made a great start and was running in the top ten in the early laps. But the 18-year-old was struggling with his injuries, and pulled in to retire with ten laps remaining.
Albert Arenas, riding a Peugeot-badged MGP3O, scored his first point of the season in 15th, making it double points for the only Indian constructor in the World Championship series.
Brno winner John McPhee was eliminated in a three-bike crash in the first corner. Independent Mahindra team rider Darryn Binder showed the MGP3O's strength in depth, moving from 28th on the grid to a career-best eighth in the early laps, before slipping off to re-join out of the points.
The race was won by Honda's Enea Bastianini, inches ahead of the already crowned 2016 champion Brad Binder.
Team Aspar Mahindra moves on to Australia for next weekend's race at Phillip Island, the middle of three consecutive "flyaway" races before the season closes at Valencia in November.
Francesco Bagnaia, Seventh Place
"It was a tough race, probably one of the most complicated I've done in my life. In the first lap I gave the maximum to avoid wasting time. We knew we were losing some time under acceleration so I quickly opened the gas, but soon the tyres started to lose performance. At the end I knew they would catch me, I tried to give my best to avoid it. Overall it has been a difficult weekend."
Mufaddal Choonia, CEO, Mahindra Racing
"It hasn't been a terribly bad weekend, but considering our wonderful season so far anything less than a podium is a little disappointing. Pecco again showed his masterful race-craft, up to second from 12th on the grid, but struggled a little with grip issues towards the end. It could have been better for us if McPhee and Binder hadn't fallen; but it was good to see Arenas in the points. It shows our project is bearing fruit for all sorts of different riders. Martin was an absolute hero even to start, let alone getting up to tenth from so far back on the grid. We're really happy to have a rider like this, and hope he can get fully fit with two races coming up at tracks that suit our bike better."
About Mahindra Racing
In 2016, Mahindra Racing is competing as a constructor in its fifth year in the Moto3TM class of MotoGPTM 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 Moto3TM 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.
For further information please visit: www.mahindraracing.com.
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