KTM PODIUM SWEEP AT MOTO3 GRAND PRIX
Luis Salom of Spain got a last lap jump on championship leader Sandro Cortese in the final corners of Round 14 of the Moto3 World Championships at Aragon on Sunday with Jonas Folger of Germany in third to give KTM riders a three-way sweep of the podium.
Luis Salom swept past Sandro Cortese in the final corners to wrap up what was a hard fought battle on the sweeping Spanish circuit. Danny Kent, Cortese’s teammate in the Red Bull KTM Ajo team was in the mix right up to the last seconds and powered his KTM into fourth place at the flag.
Cortese, on the KTM Moto3 bike picked up another 20 points to consolidate his championship lead to 51-points with four rounds to go. The German rider’s chances of being the Moto3 World Champion were further enhanced when his closest opponent, Spain’s Maverick Vinales exited with mechanical issues in the warm-up lap.
Cortese said he wasn’t really aware of what had happened as riders filed into the starting grid as he glanced behind him to see Vinales’ second row spot vacant. “I wasn’t sure what had happened,” he said. “I was quite nervous before the race and I just wanted to concentrate on my start because it had been very difficult conditions for everyone all weekend. I’ve been very sick all week and I just didn’t have the energy left to make another charge in the final corners.” Cortese added that with his quite comfortable lead he could go to the next race in Japan “feeling more relaxed”.
Riders had little chance to get accustomed to the circuit on Friday and Saturday when extremely wet and changeable conditions made practice, qualifying and setup decisions difficult for all the teams. Cortese has now been on the podium in every race except in a very wet race in France when he finished sixth.
It was also a very good day out for the young German rider Jonas Folger who picked up a place with the Aspar Mapfre Team to race the KALEX-KTM when the season resumed after the summer break. He has radically turned his season around and on Sunday started on pole for the first time in his career. Folger also said it had been difficult racing in what was a big group of riders in the leading pack. “It was very hard,” he said, “and with the long straight everyone was catching up all the time.”
Kent, the British KTM rider was also a front row starter and he was a major player in the torrid last lap action. He came from the middle of the pack in the closing stages to take the lead and always looked a strong contender in the closing stages of the 20-lap race.
It was an unlucky outing for the KTM Malaysian rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin. He was a front row starter and a dominant rider and race leader in the first half of the race but crashed out midway and slid off into the gravel. Khairuddin, Malaysia’s most successful ever road racer is still chasing his first podium and will be hoping for a top result when the tour heads to his home race at Sepang.
Riders and teams now break camp to prepare for the overseas races starting with Motegi in Japan on October 14. They then go to Sepang and on to Phillip Island in Australia before returning for the final round in Valencia, Spain. If things continue to go Cortese’s way he may be able to settle the title with rounds to spare in what has been a golden year for KTM’s re-entry into the new small category Moto3GP competition.
Results Moto3 Aragon
1. Luis Salom (E), KALEX-KTM, 40:56.391 min
2. Sandro Cortese (D), KTM, +0.155 sec
3. Jonas Folger (D), KALEX-KTM, +0.362
4. Danny Kent (GB), KTM, +1.115
5. Efren Vazquez (E), FTR Honda, +1,160
6. Alex Rins (E), Suter Honda, +1.765
7. Luis Rossi (F), FTR Honda, +1.839
8. Miguel Olivera (P), Suter Honda, +1.972
9. Arthur Sissis (AUS), KTM, +2.415
14. Niklas Ajo (FIN), KTM, +14.899
16. Brad Binder (RSA), KALEX-KTM, +36.470
20. Luca Amato (D), KALEX-KTM, +40.831
DNF Zulfahmi Khairuddin (MA), KTM (crashed, rider unhurt)
Standings Moto3 after Round 14 of 17
1. Cortese, 245 points
2. Salom, 194
3. Maverick Vinales (E), FTR Honda, 179
4. Romano Fenati (I), FTR Honda, 120
5. Rins, 106
6. Kent, 83
8. Khairuddin, 81
10. Folger, 72
14. Sissis, 58
18. Ajo, 23
29. Binder, 5