Pedro Acosta wins the Michelin Moto3 Grand Prix of Styria ahead of Sergio Garcia on a drying track in Austria. The race was not without its drama as the race was decided with a thrilling last lap battle between the two Spanish youngsters.
A damp start to the Moto3 race with Turkish teen, Deniz Oncu going from his first ever pole position surrounded by quality riders. Before the start of the warm-up lap, the Red Bull Tech3 KTM was pulled from the grid for working on the bike after the three-minute to start board. He rolled down pitlane on slicks on a wet track. So that promoted Sergio Garcia to the front position of the grid.
It wasn’t actually raining at the start of the race but the track was definitely a surface where a wet tyre was needed, but there was a drying line on the start straight so there were a few riders that joined Oncu on the slick gamble, including both Petronas Sprinta bikes of Darryn Binder and John McPhee, both the Rivacold Snipers bikes of Andrea Migno and David Salvador, and Gabriel Rodrigo.
As the lights went out and the bikes buzzed up to Turn one, Romano Fenati led from Sergio Garcia and Pedro Acosta as the riders tip-toed out onto the straight. The first lap ended quite quickly and there was already a breakaway of three riders, but they were already moving over onto the wet parts of the track to keep their tyres cool. Jaume Masia and Izan Guevara led the chasing group.
Early leader, Romano Fenati was demoted to third by Garcia and Acosta. The CIP Green Power machine of Maximillian Kofler had a great start and got himself up to sixth place from 22nd on the grid. He has only just returned from a break due an injury to his vertebrae. The Austrian sailed around the outside of a bunch of riders off the start into Turn one to gain a good number of positions.
At the beginning of Lap five Acosta and Garcia had broken Romano Fenati and the lead group was now down to two riders. The lead man on slick tyres was Darryn Binder in 17th. He was followed by his team-mate John McPhee and Deniz Oncu. They were two seconds slower than the leaders in the early stages.
Darryn Binder was just over a second slower than the leaders going into Lap seven, so the slicks were getting quicker but the wet tyres weren’t slowing down yet. The gain on slicks though, was outweighing the wets. He was a tenth slower than the leaders on the next lap.
The first victim of slicks on a wet track was Honda Team Asia rider Andi Farid Izdahar. He lost the front going into Turn one whilst chasing David Salvador on Lap 10. Meanwhile at the front, Pedro Acosta was allowing Sergio Garcia to dicatate the pace as they were five seconds clear of Romano Fenati in third, who had been caught by Jaume Masia and his accompanying group of three riders. The wets were still quicker than the slick tyres with 13 laps to go, so the crossover period still hadn’t happened at the halfway point of the race.
On Lap 13, Pedro Acosta made his move on Sergio Garcia into Turn three to try and get the hammer down and break clear of the Santander Consumer GASGAS rider. Garcia had different ideas though and retook the lead at the end of the lap. Jaume Masia had managed to get past Romano Fenati into third. Andi Farid Izdahar had his second crash of the race up into Turn three and decided to call it a day this time. The Rivacold Snipers replacement rider David Salvador also went down at Turn three in a separate incident so some of the slick runners were starting to take too many risks on the drying track.
With six laps remaining, the two leaders were setting fastest laps every lap and were still nailed together. The wet tyres seemed to be holding up really well, and still looked brand new as they passed 2/3 race distance.
Darryn Binder had made his way up to 9th place and set the fastest lap with five laps to go. He was two seconds per lap faster than the group in front of him, and was pushing hard to try and get to the podium battle. He made contact with Max Kofler’s rear wheel exiting Turn eight in a hair-raising moment, but both riders came out of it unscathed and still upright. Binder made the move into sixth a couple of corners later.
With two laps to go, Pedro Acosta felt the need to make his move into Turn three but Sergio Garcia steamed up the inside into Turn four after getting onto the throttle better than Acosta out of the previous turn
Acosta braked later than Garcia into Turn one on the final lap, but Sergio Garcia barged Acosta out the way going into Turn three. Acosta went onto the run-off but Acosta was still in touch. Acosta pressured Garcia out of Turn eight, pulled out of the slipstream into Turn nine to make his move. Garcia was slightly off-line and went down on the outside of Acosta. As Garcia went down, Acosta lost the front but incredibly managed to keep his KTM upright. As Acosta took the chequered flag, Garcia remounted and finished in second position.
Romano Fenati made his move up the inside of Jaume Masia into the final corner to get third with a very neat move. Ayumu Sasaki was fifth ahead of a heroic Darryn Binder on his slick tyres, leaving the other slick runners – including his team-mate – well behind. Ryusei Yamanaka was seventh ahead of Yuki Kunii and the home-hero Max Kofler in ninth. Adrian Fernandez had a good result in 10th after a crash in warm-up this morning.
An incredible final lap made for very exciting viewing yet again in Moto3. Not the big breakaway group we are used to but very good nonetheless. Pedro Acosta widens the gap between himself and Sergio Garcia with his fifth win of the season, and they return to the Red Bull Ring next week for the Bitci Motorrad Grand Prix von Osterreich.
Featured Image: Red Bull KTM Ajo.