|6||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Honda||ITA||134|
|19||Khairul Idham Pawi||Honda||MAL||62|
|30||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||KTM||ITA||12|
|41||Barton Matt||FTR Honda||AUS||0|
|50||Gabriel Martinez Abrego||Mahindra||MEX||0|
The season kicked off with a brilliant third-place podium finish for Aspar Mahindra rider Pecco Bagnaia. He was just 0.148 of a second adrift of winner Niccolo Antonelli’s Honda, with Brad Binder’s KTM sandwiched between them. That’s insanely close!
Bagnaia had started the Qatar Grand Prix – the first of 18 rounds – from the fourth row of the grid, and finished the first of 18 laps of the Losail circuit in seventh position. From there to the end it was an action-packed 38 minutes, with eight riders exchanging blows at every corner, and swerving in and out of one another’s slipstreams down the kilometre-long start finish straight.
Jorge Martin, Aspar Mahindra rider displayed a brilliant ride through from 19th on the grid to a strong eighth place – making the most of his wet-weather skills and the deft handling of his MGP3O bike on a treacherous drying circuit.
While team-mate Pecco struggled with the conditions in round two and finished out of points, Martin had made a blazing start from the seventh row, and by lap two he crossed the line in sixth place. Riders were changing places throughout as they searched for grip on the fast and sinuous circuit. Their no-tread slick tyres, the lingering damp patches, and brief swirls of rain made it a battle not only for split seconds, but also for survival. Intense!
Aspar Mahindra’s star rider Pecco Bagnaia rode to a dogged 14th place in Grand Prix of the Americas – pulling through from the sixth row of the grid. The 19-year-old Italian had qualified on the sixth row of the grid, and moved gradually forward over the course of the race. Team-mate Jorge Martin failed to finish, after a tangle at one of the first-gear corners saw him fall without injury.
The CotA circuit, has several very slow corners, but is otherwise long, fast, and highly technical. Added to this, was the changing weather that hit the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. The track started damp, was briefly dry, then light rain started again. Any riders who had missed that brief window had to be settle for lowly grid positions.
Pecco Bagnaia claimed his second podium finish of the season, keeping his head in a fearsome front-runner battle. The 19-year-old Italian was promoted to the front row when pole qualifier Brad Binder (KTM) was put to the back for a technical infringement – and he made the most of it from the start.
Bagnaia led the track twice on the circuit, holding on strongly and awaiting a last-lap climax as a three-bike battle became four-way when Binder caught up. The South African managed to move clear to claim a classic career first win, riding from last to first. The last lap saw the remaining trio – Bagnaia, Bulega and Navarro – exchange places repeatedly, each hunting for any advantage. They were still virtually side by side into the crucial final hairpin until Pecco finished third.
Pecco preserved Mahindra’s perfect 2016 points record with a hard-fought 12th place, seven places higher than his qualifying position. Bagnaia qualified 19th, putting him on the seventh row of the grid, in the thick of a pack of slower riders in the Moto3 class. He was soon picking up places, and was up in the points before one-third of the distance, and making his way forward in a pack chasing a ten-strong leading group.
Hopes of improvement were dashed in the closing laps, when a tussle with another rider caused both to lose touch with their group. Bagnaia won that fight, but it had ended any chance of further improvement. Team-mate Jorge Martin finished 18th, five places higher than his qualifying position.
Pecco took a third podium victory, finishing only seven hundredths of a second from a first race win after 20 breath-taking laps. The race was an epically close battle. Every lap looked like the first, as a pack of 20 or more riders ran into the first corner four or five abreast. Shoving, scraping and scrapping, the order changed constantly in the thriller of a race.
Team-mate Jorge Martin was part of the pack, running as high as eighth place several times, but crossing the line 14th. He was still just two seconds away from the winner in the thick of the brawl. Pecco had set the second-fastest qualifying time, only to be bumped back to the third row for straying minutely over the track limits. Undaunted, he finished the first lap in fifth place and played a leading role in the scrabbling pack for the full race distance.
Aspar Mahindra riders Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin endured their worst race of the season - with each falling out of the race. It was especially cruel for Bagnaia, who had started from the third row of the grid and was holding his own in the usual leading pack of ten or more riders. Through no fault of his own, the 19-year-old Italian was sent flying off the track and out of the race when another rider lost control and hit his back wheel.
Martin Jorge slipped off on the first corner set, and was unable to restart with less than six of the 22 laps remaining. It was left to customer-team rider Darryn Binder to preserve our perfect points record. Darryn finished a career-best 12th, claiming his first World Championship points.
Italian teenager Pecco Bagnaia made history – fighting every inch of the way to claim not only his first grand prix win, not only the first win for the Mahindra Moto3 team, but the first ever in the history of the sport for an Indian constructor.
The triumph came after one of the fiercest races ever seen. 14 riders fought over centimetres of track and hundredths of a second. The top three crossed the line within four hundredths of a second; the top six inside two tenths.
Bagnaia had qualified tenth, on the fourth row of the grid, but he put his white-liveried Aspar Mahindra racer at the sharp end throughout. After 99.924 km of the fiercest fighting, the young star claimed a virtual photo-finish win through the final chicane. Victory moved Bagnaia up to fourth in the championship, just four points away from third.
Pecco of Team Aspar Mahindra claimed a steadfast tenth place in the German GP, run in streaming wet conditions. Team-mate Jorge Martin faced disappointment as a near collision meant that he slipped off in the treacherous conditions, after earlier running with the front group, finishing lap one in fifth place after starting from tenth on the grid.
Peugeot rider John Mcphee fought for a top-three podium finish, eventually finishing sixth in the thick of a battling group. The swirling rain and standing water made for unexpected results, with rookie Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda) taking a win. Pecco rode carefully on a cold and wet race day, taking tenth place.
Jorge Martin (Team Aspar Mahindra) led the way to a double-point-scoring finish. Team-mate Pecco narrowly missed a double top-ten, finishing 11th. It was a thrilling climax to an exciting race with a huge pack of riders seen across the sun-soaked hillsides of Austria.
Dutch TT winner Bagnaia had qualified in sixth and got away well, in the thick of a big leading group. But he was battling minor but costly setup issues. It was Martin making forward progress, from the fifth row of the grid. He quickly moved through the pursuing pack to tag on to the back of the lead group, in sixth by lap six. From there to the end he was under constant attack, but managed to fight back every time to maintain the position at the finish.
Our racing beasts – the MGP3Os – took first and second places in a rain-soaked Czech Republic Grand Prix. The winner was Scotsman John Mcphee, splashing through the spray to take his own first GP victory and a first for the new this-year Peugeot MGP3O. He was over eight seconds clear at the flag. Spanish teenager Jorge Martin (Aspar Mahindra Team) took a career-best second place.
Bagnaia was one of many to crash out of the race, hampered by tyre problems. The streaming-wet circuit sent several riders slithering off into the gravel including Brad Binder (KTM), who succumbed to relentless pressure from Mcphee. Mcphee was then alone up front, but in a heart-stopping moment on the third-last of the 19-lap race, his bike slid sideways and threatened to throw him off. He was able to regain control and claim his victory.
Pecco Bagnaia fought to a brilliant second-place finish in a hold-your-breath Moto3 battle at Silverstone, finishing less than two tenths of a second away from victory at the sharp end of a 12-strong brawl. The teenager had started from his first pole position, and fought every inch of the 17 laps of the long and technically challenging 5.9-km British circuit to stay at the front of a massive group, with riders changing places at every one of the 18 corners.
It came down to cool-headed tactics in a hot-headed group. Bagnaia started the last lap in third place, but used his experience to move up to second, finally crossing the line right in the slipstream of race and championship leader Brad Binder (KTM).
A historical event – San Marino and Rimini Riviera Grand Prix marked 100 races for us. But it was a cruel century after our best season so far, with Aspar Mahindra Team rider Jorge Martin injured before the race, and the other, Pecco, well below the form that has brought him several wins. Martin suffered fractures in his foot in a heavy crash in Qualifying, when he was already up to 12th.
Bagnaia suffered from problems throughout the Grand Prix, finishing 21st after starting from an atypical 25th on the grid in a difficult weekend. Zero points were a set-back in Bagnaia’s quest for second overall, dropping him to fifth in the standings.
Aspar Mahindra Team rider Jorge Martin took a brutally hard-fought sixth place, overcoming pain and weakness from right foot injuries that ruled him out of the previous race. The Spanish teenager battled through from tenth on the grid to play a significant part in an 11-strong leading pack, as riders traded blows at every corner.
At one stage, Martin was up to fourth in the brawl. In the final stages, four leaders broke clear but Martin finished just 0.179 of a second adrift of fifth-placed Joan Mir, who was leading the pursuit. Scotsman John Mcphee also added to his points score, taking 13th at the head of a group. Bagnaia finished less than two tenths behind Mcphee, but in 16th place, out of the points.
Team Aspar Mahindra rider Pecco claimed a fighting top-ten finish, 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 held his own in a typically close brawling leading pack, only losing touch as his tyres lost grip in the closing stages of the race.
Team-mate Jorge Martin, fighting the pain and weakness sustained by a left leg injury, qualified 23rd fastest. 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.
Independent Mahindra rider Darryn Binder was just five hundredths of a second from a top-three finish. Aspar Mahindra Team rider, Jorge Martin, fought through from the back of the grid to a valuable sixth place.
The results came in a frantic ten-lap sprint after a multiple rider accident brought the race to an early stop. Pecco was already out of the action after falling victim to another rider’s error before the crash that curtailed the first race. Binder had led the pack onto the finishing straight, but lost a historic first podium by inches when Aron Canet (Honda) came out of his slipstream over the line.
Bagnaia surged to his second and the MGP3O’s third win of the season. He won 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. The win lifted him back to third overall after losing ground in previous races as the victim of other riders’ errors.
Jorge Martin was one of many crash victims at the race, involved in a multi-bike accident on only the first lap. Fortunately, the Spanish teenager got to his feet and escaped serious injury.
Pecco was robbed of a clear third in the Champsionship when he was sent flying as an innocent victim of a mistake by a rival rider. The Italian teenager had made a strong start with the lead group. But on only the first of 24 laps, rival Gabriel Rodrigo lost control at Turn 13, and crashed right under Bagnaia’s front wheel.
While Pecco was lucky to escape injury, he was bitterly disappointed. Bagnaia’s win in the previous race had lifted him to third overall, with a chance of moving to second with the season finale race. Instead, out of the race with zero points, he dropped to fourth. In spite of the disappointment, it was still Mahindra’s best-ever championship result.
The Valencia race was the 18th and last of the 2016 season.