Podium so close for Mahindra at Malaysia Moto3 race
Mapfre Team Mahindra rider Pecco Bagnaia scaled the heights of the ultra-competitive Moto3 class at the Sepang circuit today – taking a leading role in a fierce pack of eight riders, and frequently showing the vivid red of his MGP3O racer at the front of the leading pack.
He was still a candidate for victory with three laps of the 18-lap race remaining when for a second race in succession he crashed out through no fault of his own, after another rider in the closely-packed battle gave him one nudge too many.
Bitterly disappointed, the Italian teenager remounted, finishing an ill-deserved 17th, and out of the points. It was left to second Mapfre Team Mahindra rider Jorge Martin to make sure of more points for Mahindra Racing.
Martin finished 12th, battling to the front of his own fierce group, just one thousandth of a second ahead of customer Mahindra rider Stefano Manzi (San Carlo Team Italia), putting a second MGP3O in the points.
The team felt a mixture of elation and disappointment in Malaysia. The loss of a second, top-three podium finish of the year was a blow; but at the same time Bagnaia had once again shown not only his own strength as a rider, but also that of the Mahindra MGP3O, which was again competitive at the highest level and at another type of circuit.
Last weekend’s Phillip Island circuit in Australia is more about rhythm, handling, and chassis integrity. Sepang – close to Kuala Lumpur’s international airport – has two long straights on its longer 5.543-km lap, putting more emphasis on engine performance. The Mahindra was up with the best of the competition at both the tracks
After three flyaway races in a row, the MotoGP circus now has one weekend off before the season finale at Valencia in Spain.
The Moto3 team’s near miss came on the same weekend as a Mahindra Racing landmark in another series of motorsport. Nick Heidfeld captured the Indian team’s first podium in the pioneering all-electric Formula E championship, finishing third in the Beijing ePrix yesterday.
JORGE MARTIN – 12th Place
That was a really hard race, really high temperatures and a big fight on every lap. It’s my first time in Malaysia – I thought the race would be a bit easier than it was. The best thing is we got some points, and that is important for the championship. Now we have Valencia, which I know well, so let’s see what happens there.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO, Mahindra Racing
If this is the last of the bad luck we have this year, then I will be happy. We have had so much misfortune this season – almost a decade’s worth! Once again though, Pecco showed the potential of our package: he was in the lead group all race long, and often at the front of it, at a circuit with long straights, which some have touted as our weakest area. The crash wasn’t his fault: he was hit by another rider. Until then, it was really good to see a Mahindra up at the front.”