Round twelve of 2023 MotoGP™ sees another positive outing for the FR 250 GP as Collin Veijer finishes 5th and Ayumu Sasaki, 7th, closes to within 4 points to the top of the standings.
MotoGP moved from Barcelona, Catalunya directly to Misano for the Gran Premio Red Bull di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini and the second Grand Prix event in the space of a week. The LIQUI MOLY IntactGP Husqvarna team arrived at the 4km, 16-corner circuit that had been a happy hunting ground in the past in terms of speed and competitiveness with the FR 250 GP.
Ayumu Sasaki had made important grounds in his pursuit of P1 in the world championship standings in Spain and was determined to reverse his luck at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli where twelve months previously when he was hit out of the Grand Prix by another rider. The Japanese was immediately on the pace from Friday when he circulated with lap-times near the top of the standings.
The weather on the Adriatic coast was excellent for conditions and the 79,000 fans that entered the flat and curvy layout across the weekend. Compared to Barcelona, Misano was tighter with grippier asphalt.
Sasaki was not alone with his rapid approach to Misano. Teammate Collin Veijer continued his bright path of progression and education in his rookie season with swift adaption. The Dutch youngster worked his way to 10th in Q2 for the fourth row of the start grid. Sasaki gave the team a scare in the opening minute of Q2 with a slide into the gravel at Turn 14. He made it back to the pit and quickly re-emerged to charge to 2nd place and the middle of the first row and with a wide, clear view of the black bitumen ahead.
20 hectic and gripping laps of Moto3 fare began race day on Sunday. Sasaki and Veijer were initially part of the leading group but by the final five circulations a quartet had broken free. Veijer was riding strongly and with no apparent repercussions of the foot injury that caused him to miss the race in Barcelona. He moved into 5th place and was free of the drama occurring in the pack behind him that contained Sasaki. Ayumu was able to get to the line ahead of Ivan Ortola in 7th and his 9 points proved valuable. He had made a 13-point gain on leader Daniel Holgado in Barcelona and after Misano that gap has shrunk even further to just 4. Veijer is up to 13th. The IntactGP Husqvarna team defend 2nd position in the Teams standings and Husqvarna Motorcycles is 3rd in the Constructors contest.
Collin Veijer: “I’m happy but I think we could have done a bit better if I had picked up the pace sooner. Anyway, we took P5 after missing Barcelona. I think we did a good job to be back up to speed. We can be happy. India will be a new track and will be exciting. I’m ready!”
Ayumu Sasaki: “It was a really difficult race. The set-up was better than we had in qualifying but I struggled to keep a faster pace today. Not the result that we want but we will learn it. I know where I need to improve and will focus on that. We will head to Asia for the next races and I need to keep concentrated and going!”
In Moto2 Lukas Tulovic circulated the Italian circuit without teammate Darryn Binder, who is still recovering from his crash and tangle at the Red Bull Ring in August. The team again welcomed young Australian Senna Agius into a replacement role. The two relatively rookie riders took their bearings around Misano and among the closely packed Moto2 field. Agius was the better placed after Q1 on Saturday and qualified in 20th for the 22 laps on Sunday while Tulovic was not far away in 24th.
Tulovic, aiming for his fourth batch of points this season, rallied hard until the final stages of the race and then made a misjudgement into the fast Turn 11, ‘Curvone’, and clipped the back of Izan Guevara causing both to tumble out. Agius, who was unfortunate to crash out of the Catalan Grand Prix the previous Sunday, was also a faller in Misano.
Lukas Tulovic: “I knew that I couldn't take the best corner exits, I tried everything, but then Guevara was able to sit next to me out of the slipstream on the last lap and when it was time to turn into the fast right-hand bend. He was a bit ahead of me but if I didn't turn in I would never have caught the corner. I wanted to turn but then noticed that he wasn't turning in, so I sat up again. He went straight crashing right into my front. Other than that, the race was solid after we’d struggled all weekend. If it wasn’t for the starting position as well as the big gap it would have been a sixteenth-place finish. The start was good, and the lap times and pace were also good for our shape at the moment, so it's a shame that it ended up like this.”
Agius Senna: “Not a good end to the weekend at all, especially when I feel like we’d made such big strides compared to the other races I have done with the team this year. I was hoping to bring a result home for everybody, but I got caught up in a racing situation and had to stop a bit more than normal into Turn 8, broke rear contact and had a highside. Really disappointing but we have to put it behind us because I think we made big progress in all aspects this weekend.”
Results Moto3 Gran Premio Red Bull di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini
1. David Alonso (COL) GASGAS 34:04.490, 2. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda +0.036, 3. Deniz Öncü (TUR) KTM +0.237, 5. Collin Veijer (NED) Husqvarna +4.800, 7. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna +7.862
World championship standings Moto3
1. Daniel Holgado (ESP) KTM, 161 points, 2. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna, 157, 3. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda 149, 13. Collin Veijer (NED) Husqvarna, 58.
Results Moto2 Gran Premio Red Bull di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini
1. Pedro Acosta (ESP) 35:30.145, 2. Celestino Vietti (ITA) +6.305, 3. Alonso Lopez (ESP) +9.989, DNF. Lukas Tulovic (GER) Husqvarna, DNF. Senna Agius (AUS) Husqvarna
World championship standings Moto2
1. Pedro Acosta (ESP), 211 points, 2. Tony Arbolino (ITA), 177, 3. Jake Dixon (GBR), 146, 19. Darryn Binder (RSA) Husqvarna, 13. 21. Lukas Tulovic (GER) Husqvarna 12