David Alonso has launched himself back into contention for the 2023 Moto3 World Championship title after holding out for a timely fourth win of his rookie campaign in the Thailand Moto3.
The Colombian held firm over a typically breathless final lap exchange between himself Jaume Masia, Collin Veijer and Taiyo Furusato to emerge out front of a race that could have major implications on what is proving to be an engrossing and evolving title race.
Indeed, despite fluffing his line coming through the last corner on the final lap to drop from second to fourth on the run to the flag, points’ leader Masia leaves Buriram with his lead extended to 17 points over Ayumu Sasaki after his rival was forced to retire early on. Race winner Alonso and Daniel Holgado, who was sixth, are 25 points each adrift with three rounds to go.
With only four points splitting Masia and Sasaki coming into this race, the stage was set for the two primary title contenders to face-off in a potential pivotal encounter in sweltering conditions around the Chang International Circuit.
While Sasaki had the advantage over his rival from the front row, the busy opening stages of the race would ultimately negate his erstwhile advantage over Masia on the third row as the Leopard Honda quickly got himself embroiled in a front group that would swell to include up to 12 riders at times, but never reduce to fewer than four duking it out for the win right to the flag.
However, it was this closely-matched swarm that would ultimately catch the hapless Sasaki out when he was left unsighted just as a gearbox issue struck David Munoz’s BOE KTM coming through the fast Turn 5 left-hand flick on lap three.
Tucked up behind Matteo Bertelle, though the Italian jumped out of the way in time, Sasaki had no time to react to the slowing Munoz directly ahead, clattering into the back of the KTM and sending them both to the ground and ultimately out of the race. Holgado was also caught up in the melee, forced out wide in avoidance and to the back of the field.
With three of the leading contenders out or delayed, it was left to a couple of the less fancied runners in Veijer and Furusato to take the fight to a steady lead peloton of Masia, Alonso and occasionally Deniz Oncu, the Turkish rider yo-yoing through the order as he struggled to find the clear air to demonstrate the pace that had him atop the timesheets over a single lap.
Discounting Oncu as he struggled to make up time on the brakes, thus regularly dropping him back to a close but never encroaching chasing pack just moments behind the lead four, it was instead left to Veijer, Furusato, Masia and Alonso to take up the lead battle in varying configurations as they slipstreamed through on one another closely but cleanly for the most part.
Representing big opportunities for both Veijer and Furusato having never stepped foot on the Moto3 podium as yet, they gave as good as they got from Alonso and Masia to remain right in the heart of the victory battle into the closing stages.
Entering the final lap, it was Veijer that led on the run down to Turn 1, but the Dutchman’s hopes of a spectacular maiden win would come unstuck on the exit of Turn 5 when he lost the rear of his Husqvarna Intact GP bike and was flicked out of his seat. Though he’d stay on, the loss of momentum counted him out of the victory battle.
That promoted Alonso into the lead, with Veijer’s moment doing just enough to check the pace of Furusato and Masia behind and give him the breathing room to pick his ideal line through the final turns before accelerating out of Turn 12 to the flag for victory, his fourth success of the year to make him the winningest rider of 2023.
Behind him, Masia’s lunge for second on Furusato at the final corner proved erroneous, the Leopard rider scrubbing off all of his speed on the exit to allow the Japanese rider through to a surprise second place finish, a big improvement on the Honda Team Asia rider’s previous personal best of seventh and only his eighth points’ scoring ride in two seasons of Moto3.
Even worse for Masia, he was also out-dragged to the finish line by Veijer, the Dutchman having regrouped in time to snatch third at the death and with it a long awaited first podium too.
Leaving Masia fourth - minus seven points he’d have achieved for second - he was chased over the line by a frustrated Oncu, whose title hopes now appear to be over, while Holgado completed a fine fight back ride up to sixth place to spare his championship ambitions and keep him in the hunt with three rounds to go.
Less than +1.3s off the win, Bertelle held on for seventh, ahead of countryman Riccardo Rossi, while Japanese duo Ryusei Yamanaka and Kaito Toba came through for ninth and tenth. With the top 13 finishing within +2.4secs off the win, Ivan Ortola, Joel Kelso and Diogo Moreira - who enjoyed stints in the lead early on - finished 11th, 12th and 13th respectively, with Xavier Artigas and Adrian Fernandez picking up the last of the points.
Of the Brits, Scott Ogden and Josh Whatley reached the flag, but could only manage 20th and 23rd.
|2023 Thailand Moto3 | Chang International Circuit, Buriram | RACE Results | Round 17 of 20|
|1||David Alonso||🇨🇴||GASGAS Aspar M3||GasGas||17 Laps|
|2||Taiyo Furusato||🇯🇵||Honda Team Asia||Honda||+0.266|
|3||Collin Veijer||🇳🇱||Husqvarna IntactGP||Husqvarna||+0.359|
|4||Jaume Masia||🇪🇦||Leopard Racing||Honda||+0.382|
|5||Deniz Oncu||🇹🇷||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||+0.557|
|6||Daniel Holgado||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Tech3||KTM||+1.133|
|7||Matteo Bertelle||🇮🇹||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||+1.288|
|8||Riccardo Rossi||🇮🇹||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||+1.307|
|9||Ryusei Yamanaka||🇯🇵||GASGAS Aspar M3||GasGas||+1.413|
|10||Kaito Toba||🇯🇵||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||+1.445|
|11||Ivan Ortola||🇪🇦||Angeluss MTA Team||KTM||+1.468|
|12||Joel Kelso||🇦🇺||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto||+2.337|
|13||Diogo Moreira||🇧🇷||MT Helmets - MSI||KTM||+2.409|
|14||Xavier Artigas||🇪🇦||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto||+6.497|
|15||Adrian Fernandez||🇪🇦||Leopard Racing||Honda||+6.663|
|16||Jose Antonio Rueda||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||+6.813|
|17||Stefano Nepa||🇮🇹||Angeluss MTA Team||KTM||+6.972|
|18||Vicente Perez||🇪🇦||BOE Motorsports||KTM||+14.484|
|19||Filippo Farioli||🇮🇹||Red Bull KTM Tech3||KTM||+15.922|
|20||Scott Ogden||🇬🇧||VisionTrack Racing||Honda||+16.441|
|21||Lorenzo Fellon||🇫🇷||CIP Green Power||KTM||+18.035|
|22||Nicola Fabio Carraro||🇮🇹||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||+28.738|
|23||Joshua Whatley||🇬🇧||VisionTrack Racing||Honda||+31.758|
|24||Syarifuddin Azman||🇲🇾||MT Helmets - MSI||KTM||+33.894|
|25||David Salvador||🇪🇦||CIP Green Power||CFMoto||+34.011|
|26||Mario Suryo Aji||🇮🇩||Honda Team Asia||Honda||+34.104|
|27||Krittpat Keankum||🇹🇭||BOE Motorsports||KTM||+1m 15.028|
|DNF||Tatchakorn Buasri||🇹🇭||Honda Team Asia||Honda|
|DNF||David Munoz||🇪🇦||BOE Motorsports||KTM|
|DNF||Ayumu Sasaki||🇯🇵||Husqvarna IntactGP||Husqvarna|