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Fenati takes first Moto3 win in Le Mans

Sky Racing Team VR46’s Romano Fenati topped the podium at the Moto3 Grand Prix of France at Le Mans on Sunday to give him, and KTM their first win of the 2015 season.

The Italian racer was a major contender right from the start of the 24-lap race, which was round five of the 2015 Moto3 World Championship. He won the race by just 0.122 ahead of fellow Italians Enea Bastianini and Francesco Bagnaia in what was one of the tightest finishes so far this season.

The race was always going to be interesting after grid positions were decided after only one lap in qualifying on Saturday, when rain started very early into the session.

But Romano Fenati is a fighter and he was in contention right from the second lap. Apart from some jockeying for positions at the front of the field near the end of the race, the Italian held the lead for most of the race. He managed to put a gap between him and his pursuers between laps seven and nine but Bastianini and the young French rider Fabio Quartararo were on his tail the whole time. Quartararo made an untimely exit in lap 18 setting up a four-way battle between Fenati, Bastianini, Bagnaia and Nicolo Antonelli for the available podium places. But Fenati fought them off and crossed the line to take his first win of the season. 

Fenati: “The start of the season was very difficult but we have worked hard and today we got the victory. The bike was perfect and the tire was also okay. I am really happy because today we’ve proved a lot.”

Czech KTM rider Jakub Kornfeil finished sixth and Miguel Oliveira of Red Bull KTM Ajo crossed the line in eighth place after holding a strong fourth place right up to lap 17. Teammate Karel Hanika is recovering from wrist surgery and had to start in the pit lane because of an incident after the GP of Spain but he fought hard to finish twentieth. Brad Binder, the team’s third rider, crashed out in the very early stages through no fault of his own.

Oliveira: “I didn’t have quite enough of a good feeling with the rear to open the throttle early. I was fighting at the front but six or seven laps before the end I ran wide and it was difficult to regain ground.”

Red Bull KTM Ajo Team Manager Aki Ajo:
Today was definitely not our day in Moto3. Brad (Binder) had some very bad luck in the first corner when another rider took him out and he couldn’t do anything about it. Karel (Hanika) also had a difficult race so we couldn’t expect too much. As for Miguel, we have to analyze the data from today and see why we couldn’t be stronger, and we have to look at the set-up to see what we can improve for the next race.” 

Pit Beirer (Head of KTM Motorsport): “After a very demanding winter break and rain-swept pre-season tests we are now in the vanguard with our all-new Moto3 bike. Several small updates helped us to improve the feeling on the bike for our riders, what is clearly proven by Fenati´s victory in Le Mans, the first win for KTM in 2015, and five other KTM bikes in the top 10. In the first races, some of our riders have already been faster over the race distance than last year, which clearly shows that the level has again noticeably risen this year.”

Next Round: May 31, 2015 – Mugello (ITA)

Results Moto3 Le Mans
1. Romano Fenati (ITA), KTM, 41:22.829 min (24 laps)
2. Enea Bastianini (ITA), Honda, +0.122 sec
3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA), Mahindra, +0.457
4. Danny Kent (GBR), Honda, +0.693
5. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA), Honda, +2.244
6. Jakub Kornfeil (CZE), KTM, +2.421
7. Isaac Viñales (ESP), Husqvarna, +2.587
8. Miguel Oliveira (POR), KTM, +4.065
9. Andrea Migno (ITA), KTM, +14.876
10. Philipp Öttl (GER), KTM, +22.588
Other KTM
14. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (MAL), KTM, +26.677
18. Ana Carrasco (ESP), KTM, +38.979
20. Karel Hanika (CZE), KTM, +58.182
DNF, Niklas Ajo (FIN), KTM, +3 laps
DNF, Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG), KTM, 1 lap
DNF, Brad Binder (RSA), KTM, 1 lap

Standings Moto3 after 5 of 18 rounds
1. Kent, 104 points
2. Bastianini, 67
3. Efren Vazquez (ESP), Honda, 60
4. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Honda, 52
5. Fenati, 51
6. Viñales, 47
7. Binder, 44
8. Oliveira, 41
9. Bagnaia, 37
10. John McPhee (GBR), Honda, 28
Other KTM
13. Hanika, 18
14. Kornfeil, 17
17. Migno, 11
18. Öttl, 11
20. Ajo, 8
25. Khairuddin, 2

Manufacturer Standings Moto3 after 5 of 18 rounds
1. Honda, 120 points
2. KTM, 75
3. Husqvarna, 47