MAHINDRA WITHIN A WHISKER OF THE PODIUM IN CHAOTIC AUSTRALIAN GP
Phillip Island, 23 October 2016: Independent Mahindra rider Darryn Binder was just five hundredths of a second from a top-three finish in a chaotic Australian Moto3 GP at Phillip Island today, while Aspar Mahindra Team rider, Jorge Martin, fought through from the back of the grid to a valuable sixth place.
Another independent Mahindra finished seventh, a best-ever placing also for Marcos Ramirez, team-mate to Binder in the Platinum Bay Real Estate team.
The results came in a frantic ten-lap sprint after a multiple rider accident brought the planned 23-lap race to an early stop. Second Aspar Mahindra Team rider, Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia, was already out of the action after falling innocent victim to another rider’s error before the crash that curtailed the first race.
The worst-injured victim of that crash was Brno GP winner John McPhee, riding an MGP3O for Mahindra’s sister-brand Peugeot Motocycles.
Bagnaia had been fighting for a top-three podium position when he was eliminated on the fourth lap. The race was red-flagged on the sixth, meaning that the bitterly disappointed Italian was not eligible for the restart.
Martin had already survived the lap-one melee, which put him to the back of the pack. He had pushed through to 17th, still moving forward, when the red flags stopped the action.
Further misfortune awaited when he stalled his engine on the formation grid. He was pushed back to pit lane and had to start from the back of a grid, depleted to 24 riders from the original 34 by a spate of crashes in the first running.
Martin (18, from Madrid) rapidly cut his way through a tight group, taking third place shortly after half-distance. But he was heading a group of 16 riders changing places constantly, slipstreaming down the straight and cutting inside on the sweeping corners of the scenic 4.448-km seaside Phillip Island circuit.
In the final shuffle, Martin finished sixth, just 15 hundredths of a second from a potential third, and inches ahead of Ramirez.
Binder, younger brother of race-winner and new champion Brad Binder (KTM), 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.
The Australian race was the middle of three successive flyaway races, with the GP circus moving directly north for the Malaysian GP next weekend, before the season closes at Valencia in mid-November.