2015 Mahindra MGP3O shows race-winning potential in Qatar
Mapfre Team Mahindra rider Francesco Bagnaia put one foot on the top three podium in today’s Qatar GP, opening round of the world championship – only to have his chances scuppered when another rider sent him flying on the final lap.
The young Italian, in his first race on the all-new 2015 Mahindra MGP3O, had fought his way to the front of a fearsome 11-strong pack disputing the race, to take the lead on the 14th of 18 laps at the Losail International Circuit.
He was still well in the fight, lying third as they started the final lap. But halfway round the 5.380-km circuit in the desert outside the capital of Doha, another rider collided with the bright red Mahindra.
Bagnaia, nicknamed “Pecco”, was sent careening off the track onto the adjoining astroturf. Amazingly, he kept control, regained the tarmac, and crossed the line in ninth place, still less than a second behind race winner Alexis Masbou’s Honda.
Bad luck aside, it was a brilliant first race for the all-new Mahindra Moto3 racer, developed by Mahindra engineers in the company’s new technical centre near Varese in Italy.
Second Mapfre Team Mahindra rider Jorge Martin was not far behind, taking a hard-fought 15th place in his first GP, to claim points first time out. Third teamster Juanfran Guevara was 18th, less than four seconds behind.
Mahindra also had three more Young Guns, in their first GP. Darryn Binder (Qutox Reset Drink Team) finished 19th, Tatsuki Suzuki (CIP) was 23rd, and substitute rider Marco Bezzecchi (San Carlo Team Italia) 26th. His team-mate Matteo Ferrari was 21st; while Remy Gardner (CIP) crashed out trying to recover from a bad start.
Mahindra remains the only Indian constructor in the World Championship series.
FRANCESCO ‘PECCO’ BAGNAIA – Ninth Position
This was a most difficult race, because there were so many riders – ten or 11 in the leading group. I did my best, but in the last lap Quartararo touched me, and I went wide. But this is the race, and I could do nothing. We could have made the podium today. We were very competitive. I am happy after this race, because Mahindra worked a lot and did a good job, and so did we.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO, Mahindra Racing
I am beginning to wonder when our bad luck is going to run out. But I’m very happy. We’ve shown today that we can lead races, that we can challenge for the front, that we have a great package with the new bike, and some excellent riders. Pecco was sensational ... but so unlucky. He was hit by another rider on the last lap, and pushed out. It was amazing that he kept control of the bike. I am happy also for Martin, who finished in the points in his first GP. I am a little concerned for Guevara, who has a lot of pain in his eyes due to recent surgery, and I hope he can recover by the next race. The time sheet suggests we didn’t have a very good race, but all those who watched it will surely think otherwise.