Ayumu Sasaki takes his FR 250 GP to 5th at the MotoGP™ finale in Spain to finish 2022 with 4th place in the Moto3 world championship standings.
The Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana represented the 25th time that MotoGP has descended into the circular ‘speedbowl’ setting of the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, a short distance west of the city of Valencia. World championship riders and teams were competing in front of a largely Spanish audience (but a full attendance) for the fourth time this term but Valencia has long been a customary venue to bring the racing season to a close and counted on sunshine and warm temperatures for the twentieth and final fixture of 2022.
The Sterilgarda Max Racing Team approached the last GP of their three-year tenure in ‘white and blue’ with Ayumu Sasaki chasing a top three championship ranking and John McPhee motivated for his final outing in the Moto3 division after his thrilling victory two weeks ago in Malaysia.
Qualification went smoothly for the crew around the 4km layout with 14 corners and many of those tight and narrow: Sasaki ranked 5th to sit on the second row of the grid while McPhee was only fractions of a second away in 10th for a slot on the fourth line.
Moto3 opened the race card at Valencia with 23 laps and the promise of a very close group vying for the right to the final chequered flag of 2022. Sasaki and McPhee slotted into the fourteen-rider third gaggle with hopes of 4th position. The Japanese had to constantly attack and defend but rode decently once more to obtain 5th; behind Dennis Foggia by four tenths of a second to accept a top four championship berth. McPhee had a busy run trying to elbow his way into the top ten and the Scot made it to the line in 11th for five points.
In the wake of twenty Grands Prix with the expected highs (victories in the Netherlands, Austria and Malaysia and a total of ten podium appearances) and lows (injuries to both riders) Husqvarna Motorcycles was able to see both of its racers place 4th and 11th in the standings and the Sterilgarda Max Racing Team toast 3rd in the Teams’ contest.
After the winter period, that will combine both private and official IRTA tests, Husqvarna Motorcycles will reappear in Moto3 and Moto2™ competition for the season-opening Grand Prix of Portugal in Portimao on March 26th 2023.
Ayumu Sasaki: “It was a very good season and I want to thank all my team and the sponsors. It’s been my best championship so far. We went through some difficulties with injuries and we had some bad luck as well but the second part of the season was incredible with nine podiums and two wins. I struggled here but improved all weekend and finished P5. We collected a lot of data and learning this season for next year and I will have the same crew and same people and we will only have one target. We will start in our best way.”
John McPhee: “An emotional race for me; my last in Moto3. It was nice to be fast and consistent all weekend. I felt competitive which is the best way to complete my final GP. A big thanks to the team and to everyone that supported me and stuck with me in the hard moments. I pushed 100% as always. I look forward to the next chapter of my career.”
Results – 2022 Moto3 World Championship, Final round
1. Izan Guevara (GASGAS) 38:10.406, 2. Deniz Öncü (KTM) +0.062, 3. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS) +6.557, 5. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) +14.574, 11. John McPhee (Husqvarna) +15.533
Final Moto3 world championship standings
1. Izan Guevara (GASGAS) 319pts, 2. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS) 257, 3. Dennis Foggia (Honda) 246, 4. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) 238, 11. John McPhee (Husqvarna) 102