The Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas brought MotoGP back to the long and demanding layout of ‘COTA’ and for the second round in the space of a week. The series had last visited Austin in October 2021 and found similarly hot conditions but this time with a blustery wind that added an extra technical edge to the open, sprawling 5.5km layout.
The Sterilgarda Max Racing Team placed their FR 250 GP motorcycles into the paddock and into a state of readiness after last week’s race in Argentina where Ayumu Sasaki expertly seized the squad’s first trophy of the season. John McPhee had not recovered sufficiently from his back injury (sustained in a training accident) so his saddle was temporarily occupied by young Spaniard David Salvador who has excelled with strong results in Junior GP and the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup.
Both Sasaki and Salvador had to get in-tune with the demands of COTA. The 20 corners of the American course (hosting the U.S. round of MotoGP for the ninth time) blended speed, hard-stopping power and flow – a key factor for the Moto3 class. Sasaki obtained the 9th fastest lap-time in qualification and filled the final slot on the third row of the grid. Salvador was on the 8th row.
The Grand Prix schedule pushed Moto3 to the third and final event of race day, compared to the usual opening slot. Temperatures were warmer and there were greater deposits of Moto2™/MotoGP™ rubber on the asphalt that had been re-laid over the winter and was far less bumpy. Sasaki was immediately in contention at the front of the field. The fast Japanese remained a constant presence for the podium as the group narrowed to seven runners in the final five laps. Entering the last few turns Sasaki was denied in his bid for a second consecutive piece of silverware by just a tenth of a second. The 21-year-old has been able to rise to 8th in the championship standings. Salvador brought the bike home in 22nd.
After lengthy trips to Argentina and the United States MotoGP will defer to the European leg of the world championship calendar in the coming months. The Grande Premio Tissot de Portugal at the Algarve International Circuit will run round five on April 24th.
Ayumu Sasaki: “I’m happy to be P4 and to be very competitive again. We started the weekend in bit more of a difficult way compared to the other three rounds. We kept working, we kept believing and the team did a fantastic job today. My bike was the best it could be. In these windy conditions it was very competitive. I’m very happy but then also a little disappointed we missed the podium. We did some good things today and now we go to Portimao where we were very strong in the test.”
David Salvador: “A good race and a decent start. I passed riders quite quickly. My feeling was key on the FR 250 GP. The second half of the race was pretty tough to keep the rhythm and I think I was just lacking race mileage. It was great to work with the team here and I know it will benefit me in JuniorGP. Thanks to the team for the opportunity, all my sponsors and my family.”
Max Biaggi, Team Principal: “I have to say that it was a good result by the whole team because we didn’t have the best start on Friday and we ended up with good points and Ayumu fought for the victory right up until the last corners. David was new to us, the bike and the level but he didn’t make mistakes. I think this experience will have been good for him. The team did a great job. Hopefully we can get even more performance in Portugal.”
Results – 2022 Moto3 World Championship, Round 4
1. Jaume Masia (KTM) 38:58.286, 2. Dennis Foggia (Honda) +0.172, 3. Andrea Migno (Honda) +0.394, 4. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) +0.490, 22. David Salvador (Husqvarna) +38.396
Moto3 world championship standings
1. Dennis Foggia (Honda) 74pts. 2. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS) 58, 3. Andrea Migno (Honda) 41. 8. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) 29, 17. John McPhee (Husqvarna) 11