Jaume Masia has nosed ahead in the 2023 Moto3 World Championship standings for the first time after taking advantage of feuding rivals to escape clear for victory in the Japanese Moto3 at Motegi.
Representing back-to-back wins in little more than seven days for Masia, the Leopard Racing rider was certainly the big winner on several fronts after finding himself in the right place at the right time at the head of a closely-matched four-strong lead pack coming into the second-half of the race.
However, when time-sapping scuffles began to break out between Ayumu Sasaki, Deniz Oncu and Daniel Holgado behind him, Masia took it as his cue to get the hammer down, opening up an gap he’d protect to the flag for his third win and eighth podium of the year.
Having arrived in Japan level on points with Daniel Holgado at the head of the standings, Masia’s win means he has toppled the Spaniard from the summit for the first time this season. Moreover, second for Sasaki also sees him nip ahead of third place Holgado in the points’ table, the trio split by nine points.
While Masia may have felt relief at not getting sucked into fights behind, he still had his work cut out in the early stages after losing the lead from pole position into Turn 1 before being bullied down to fourth.
Instead Oncu was the rider to get the hole-shot into Turn 1, the Turk pulling through Holgado and Stefano Nepa, with Masia and Sasaki in pursuit.
With Masia and Sasaki dispatching of Nepa on lap two, the duo quickly made up ground on the KTM pair up ahead to begin circulating in a tight quartet that’d form the lead pacemakers.
Though Oncu gamely held onto his lead up front initially, the shuffling of positions going on behind would eventually catch up to him too, Masia scything through into Turn 1 on lap seven having dispatched of Holgado and Sasaki just a few corners earlier.
As emphatic as Masia’s charge into the lead was though, once there he couldn’t stretch the pack out, Sasaki, Oncu and Holgado clinging onto his tail as the race clicked over into its second-half.
However, before home hope Sasaki would get a chance to size up Masia ahead, an unorthodox attack from Oncu behind through Turns 12 and 13 would begin a chain reaction of tos-and-fros over the ensuing lap and prove distracting enough to allow the Leopard rider to get away.
Indeed, as Oncu and Sasaki nixed their momentum coming onto the home straight, it’d allow Holgado into the fray, before the triumvirate continued taking pot-shots at one another through the lap.
Eventually, the battle came to an abrupt conclusion for Oncu when, just moments after getting back into second place, he crashed out at Turn 10 to put him out of the race and most likely out of the title reckoning too.
It means Masia entered the lattermost laps with a plus-second advantage, which would prove plenty enough for him to ease home to victory for the second time in just seven days.
Behind him, Sasaki and Holgado gave chase for a time but would end up consumed by their own fight for second place. It was a battle that looked set to go the way of Holgado after he produced a fine pass into Turn 11 for the final time, only to drop his rear wheel on the edge of the kerb coming onto the home straight to cede enough momentum to be out-dragged by Sasaki to the finish line.
Though his wait for a maiden Moto3 podium lingers on, Nepa got the better of Angeluss MTA team-mate Ivan Ortola to equal his best finish of fourth, his Spanish counterpart following him home in fifth.
Meanwhile, the fight for sixth entertained with numerous position changes right up to the final lap. In the end it was David Munoz who’d prevail over David Alonso in seventh - the Colombian’s title aspirations also taking a hit on a tough afternoon - Kaito Toba in eighth, Ryusei Yamanaka in ninth and Jose Antonio Rueda in tenth.
It was a final lap fracas that would cost Diogo Moreira a top six finish, however, the Brazilian losing time late on to cross the line 14th behind Collin Veijer, Taiyo Furusato and Riccardo Rossi. Joel Kelso bagged the final point in 15th.
Brits Scott Ogden and Josh Whatley endured tough afternoons, the pair running outside the points throughout but reaching the flag in 18th and 20th respectively.
|2023 Japanese Moto3 | Motegi Twin RIng Circuit | RACE Results | Round 14 of 20|
|1||Jaume Masia||🇪🇦||Leopard Racing||Honda||17 Laps|
|2||Ayumu Sasaki||🇯🇵||Husqvarna IntactGP||Husqvarna||+1.546|
|3||Daniel Holgado||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Tech3||KTM||+1.602|
|4||Stefano Nepa||🇮🇹||Angeluss MTA Team||KTM||+5.200|
|5||Ivan Ortola||🇪🇦||Angeluss MTA Team||KTM||+5.230|
|6||David Munoz||🇪🇦||BOE Motorsports||KTM||+8.900|
|7||David Alonso||🇨🇴||GASGAS Aspar M3||GasGas||+8.959|
|8||Kaito Toba||🇯🇵||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||+9.253|
|9||Ryusei Yamanaka||🇯🇵||GASGAS Aspar M3||GasGas||+9.629|
|10||Jose Antonio Rueda||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||+9.734|
|11||Collin Veijer||🇳🇱||Husqvarna IntactGP||Husqvarna||+9.804|
|12||Taiyo Furusato||🇯🇵||Honda Team Asia||Honda||+10.195|
|13||Riccardo Rossi||🇮🇹||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||+10.874|
|14||Diogo Moreira||🇧🇷||MT Helmets - MSI||KTM||+11.577|
|15||Joel Kelso||🇦🇺||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto||+13.905|
|16||Filippo Farioli||🇮🇹||Red Bull KTM Tech3||KTM||+16.674|
|17||David Almansa||🇪🇦||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||+31.109|
|18||Scott Ogden||🇬🇧||VisionTrack Racing||Honda||+31.282|
|19||Syarifuddin Azman||🇲🇾||MT Helmets - MSI||KTM||+31.478|
|20||Joshua Whatley||🇬🇧||VisionTrack Racing||Honda||+31.551|
|21||Lorenzo Fellon||🇫🇷||CIP Green Power||KTM||+31.587|
|22||Ana Carrasco||🇪🇦||BOE Motorsports||KTM||+32.969|
|23||Mario Suryo Aji||🇮🇩||Honda Team Asia||Honda||+38.000|
|DNF||Tatsuki Suzuki||🇪🇦||Leopard Racing||Honda|
|DNF||Deniz Oncu||🇹🇷||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM|
|DNF||Matteo Bertelle||🇮🇹||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda|
|DNF||Xavier Artigas||🇪🇦||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto|