Jaume Masia has pulled level with Daniel Holgado at the head of the 2023 Moto3 World Championship standings after producing a dominant display to win the Indian Moto3 at the Buddh International Circuit.
The Spaniard broke with Moto3 customs by leading from lights-to-flag, Masia rebuffing the initial attentions of Ayumu Sasaki to gallop to victory by more than five seconds.
Kaito Toba emerged in a season’s best second place after picking up the pieces from a dramatic final lap clash involving Husqvarna IntactGP team-mates Sasaki and Collin Veijer, with the latter crashing out of what would have been a maiden Moto3 podium.
The Dutchman’s late exit meant championship leader Holgado’s elevated fourth ensured he retains the overall lead by virtue of his greater number of wins this year, but now has Masia tied on points with him, while Sasaki - who stayed upright for third - is just a point adrift too.
In a season that has seen most Moto3 races decided by mere thousandths at the flag, the inaugural Indian Moto3 race would play out to a very different script after Masia quickly took control once he’d secured the hole-shot from the wet weather pole position he secured on Saturday.
Setting a pace no-one but Sasaki could live with initially, the pair quickly established a comfortable plus-two second advantage over a chasing pack led eventually by Veijer and Toba, who’d also put air between a peloton of between five and ten riders.
While Masia maintained metronomic consistency at the head of the field, Sasaki began to wilt in the oppressive heat coming into the second-half of the race, quickly slipping into the clutches of Veijer and Toba looming behind him.
Sasaki’s drop off meant Masia merely needed to keep it neat to the flag, the Leopard Racing rider doing exactly that to post his second victory of the season, a win that - together with two podiums in Catalunya and Misano - have helped to negate two costly DNFs on the bounce at Spielberg and Silverstone.
If Masia was enjoying an easy time out front, the same couldn’t be said for Sasaki as Veijer and Toba eased onto his rear-end with three laps remaining.
To his credit, Sasaki dug deep to defend hard from the duo behind, a skirmish that would allow Toba to get the jump on Veijer and lead the fight against his countryman coming into the final lap.
However, with Toba unable to make two consecutive lap passes into Turn 4 stick, Veijer instead took up the baton against his team-mate, briefly making it past at Turn 7. Prompting Sasaki to dive back for the inside at Turn 8, the unusual line caught Veijer out and he was unable to prevent his front-wheel tagging the back of his team-mate’s bike, the light contact enough to fold the Husqvarna down and out of the race within sight of the flag.
Though Sasaki stayed on, the loss of momentum allowed the close-following Toba back through, the SIC58 Squadra Corse rider holding on for his first podium since the Moto3 opener in Qatar last season.
Sasaki settled for third as his wait for a first win this season goes on, though with seven podiums to his name in 2023, he remains very much in title contention.
After failing to make it out of Q1 for the third time this season, Holgado produced a fine charge back through the order from 18th on the grid to fourth, the extra points inherited by virtue of Veijer’s late exit ensuring his name stays top of the table for now.
Having built up a roaring momentum in the title race after wins in three of the last four races, David Alonso kept his name in the hat with a run to fifth from 17th on the grid, ahead of David Munoz in sixth.
Riccardo Rossi consolidated SIC58’s strongest race of the season with his run to seventh, ahead of Angeluss MTA Team duo Ivan Ortola and Stefano Nepa in eighth and ninth, while Jose Antonio Rueda completed the top ten.
Elsewhere, Deniz Oncu saw his title hopes take a blow after being forced to start from the back of the grid and take a long lap penalty, the Turkish rider eventually crossing the line 14th for two points.
Of the Brits, Scott Ogden crashed out of contention in a nasty accident that also caught out Tatsuki Suzuki. The youngster - who started fourth but had slipped to 12th - was flicked into a high-side on the exit of Turn 4 to come down before being collected by the close-following Suzuki, though both were able to walk away from the smash.
Joshua Whatley, meanwhile, came close to his second points-scoring finish of the year but would be made to settle for 17th at the flag.
|2023 Indian Moto3 | Buddh International Circuit | Race Results | Round 13 of 20|
|1||Jaume Masia||🇪🇦||Leopard Racing||Honda||16 Laps|
|2||Kaito Toba||🇯🇵||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||+5.477|
|3||Ayumu Sasaki||🇯🇵||Husqvarna IntactGP||Husqvarna||+5.784|
|4||Daniel Holgado||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Tech3||KTM||+8.117|
|5||David Alonso||🇨🇴||GASGAS Aspar M3||GasGas||+8.240|
|6||David Munoz||🇪🇦||BOE Motorsports||KTM||+9.426|
|7||Riccardo Rossi||🇮🇹||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||+9.430|
|8||Ivan Ortola||🇪🇦||Angeluss MTA Team||KTM||+11.635|
|9||Stefano Nepa||🇮🇹||Angeluss MTA Team||KTM||+12.409|
|10||Jose Antonio Rueda||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||+16.106|
|11||Filippo Farioli||🇮🇹||Red Bull KTM Tech3||KTM||+16.323|
|12||Xavier Artigas||🇪🇦||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto||+16.431|
|13||Diogo Moreira||🇧🇷||MT Helmets - MSI||KTM||+19.304|
|14||Deniz Oncu||🇹🇷||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||+22.933|
|15||Ryusei Yamanaka||🇯🇵||GASGAS Aspar M3||GasGas||+26.053|
|16||Joshua Whatley||🇬🇧||VisionTrack Racing||Honda||+30.601|
|17||Lorenzo Fellon||🇫🇷||CIP Green Power||KTM||+35.035|
|18||Mario Suryo Aji||🇮🇩||Honda Team Asia||Honda||+35.196|
|19||Ana Carrasco||🇪🇦||BOE Motorsports||KTM||+35.375|
|20||Danial Shahril||🇲🇾||Petronas MIE M Lav Racing||Honda||+44.212|
|21||Syarifuddin Azman||🇲🇾||MT Helmets - MSI||KTM||+48.431|
|DNF||Collin Veijer||🇳🇱||Husqvarna IntactGP||Husqvarna|
|DNF||Taiyo Furusato||🇯🇵||Honda Team Asia||Honda|
|DNF||Scott Ogden||🇬🇧||VisionTrack Racing||Honda|
|DNF||Tatsuki Suzuki||🇪🇦||Leopard Racing||Honda|
|DNF||David Salvador||🇪🇦||CIP Green Power||KTM|
|DNF||Matteo Bertelle||🇮🇹||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda|
|DNF||Joel Kelso||🇦🇺||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto|
|DNQ||Kadai Yassen Ahamed||🇮🇳||Petronas MIE M Lav Racing||Honda|
|W||Romano Fenati||🇮🇹||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda|