Last lap drama saw an action-packed battle for victory as the Spaniard came out on top ahead of Masia and Artigas
Moto3™ served as the perfect appetizer for Sunday’s billing at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas. You could not take your eyes off the screen as incredible last-lap drama saw Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) take the first Grand Prix victory of his career. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) made an incredible recovery to take 2nd place after a crash from Ayumu Sasaki (Leopard Racing) pushed the Spaniard off the circuit forcing him to drop down the order. Last corner drama decided the podium, and the final rostrum position was eagerly snatched up by Xavier Artigas (BOE Motorsports).
Lights went out to kick off the racing action in Austin Texas, and the Moto3™ bikes swarmed into turn 1. It was an incredible start for Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) who flew from the front of the fourth row to blast past the riders in front and run around the outside to take the lead at turn 1. Ortola then had a big moment that almost saw him tasting the Texas gravel but managed to slot back into the race in P3.
WATCH: Ortola defies laws of physics with wonder save
It wasn't long before Sasaki hit the front as the Japanese rider was determined to take his second win on the bounce. Moreira tried to fight back but Sasaki wasn't having any of it. Masia then took full advantage of the battles in front, finding his way through on the Brazilian, determined not to let Sasaki break away.
Ten laps to go and Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) clipped the curb in the slalom section and was thrown over the handlebars of his Honda NSF-250. It was at this point that the Sasaki began to put the hammer down out the front and stretch out the field, with the battle for victory narrowing itself down to just five riders as Sasaki led Masia, Moreira, Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Ajo), and Xavier Artigas.
This left Ortola in a lonely 6th place as the Spaniard did his best to hang onto the coattails of the leading group. The Angeluss MTA man closed in on the group in front with eight laps to go, putting himself well in podium contention as he began to fight his way through the group and set the fastest lap of the race.
As the laps ticked away it was turning into a battle of attrition out the front, and it very much felt like the calm before the storm as the race neared the final few laps.
Five laps to go and Ortola was on the move, muscling his way through the group into a podium position, demoting the Brazilian Moreira down to P4 with Sasaki and Masia still leading the race.
5 laps to go and it's the same move again! ????@IvanOrtola48 relegates Moreria to 4th! ????#AmericasGP ???????? pic.twitter.com/W0CXVU6c1x
— MotoGP™???? (@MotoGP) April 16, 2023
Ortola was beginning to look racey as he started to apply the pressure on the Leopard Racing bike of Masia just ahead of him. Masia responded to the pressure and with four laps to go we saw the first change of the lead as the Spanaird fought his way past Sasaki. 'The Crazy Boy' tried to retaliate but Masia bounced straight back and led the way with Ortola still in third, but coming under pressure from Moreira and Artigas behind.
The long back straight came around one lap later and Sasaki took the lead back once again, but disaster struck straight after as the Husqvarna man crashed out of the race in dramatic fashion at Turn 13 with just 3 laps remaining. Masia was incredibly unlucky and got caught up in the Japanese rider's crash, finding himself pushed down to P5 with half a second gap to the leading group.
Major Moto3™ drama as late Sasaki crash blows victory hopes
Penultimate lap time and the pack had reshuffled seeing Ortola move into the lead ahead of Moreria and Artigas. Masia quickly reeled in the group and moved ahead of Holgado to move into P4 to put himself into podium contention. Meanwhile, Artigas had moved ahead of Moreira to put himself in P2.
Last lap time and Masia had slotted himself into P3 just before the start-finish straight, demoting Moreira to P4 and putting himself right onto the rear wheel of Ortola in P2.
It was magic from Moreira on the last lap as the Brazilian slotted his way up the inside at the slalom section and took two in one on the brakes to take the lead. Moreria then ran wide at turn 12 gifting the lead back to Ortola as they headed into the final sector.
Ortola, Moreria, Masia was the order going into the final sector until Jaume Masia divebombed Moreira at the final corner to steal P2 from the Brazilan, pushing him wide and allowing Artigas to take advantage and take the final spot on the podium. Ortola held strong to take the victory with the chaos unfolding behind him.
Moreira was disappointed to have a podium spot taken away from him with the chequered flag in his sights as he finished the race in 4th place with Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) unable to get involved in the podium fight finishing in 5th place.
Next up for the Moto3™ runners and riders is the Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España in Jerez in just two weeks' time. In the meantime, you can keep up to date with all the latest on motogp.com
1. Ivan Ortola - (Angeluss MTA Team)
2. Jaume Masia - (Leopard Racing) - + 0.457
3. Xavier Artigas - (CFMoto Racing Pruestel GP) - + 0.558
4. Diogo Moreira - (MT Helmets – MSI) - + 0.567
5. Daniel Holgado - (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) - + 0.657
6. Deniz Öncü - (Red Bull KTM Ajo) - + 9.493
7. David Salvador - (CIP Green Power) -+ 9.547
8. David Alonso - (Valresa GASGAS Aspar Team) - + 9.663
9. Ryusei Yamanaka - (Valresa GASGAS Aspar Team) - + 9.975
10. Jose Antonio Rueda - (Red Bull KTM Ajo) - + 10.085