Sandro Cortese and Danny Kent, factory teammates at Ajo emerged from a five-rider dogfight in the closing stages of the Moto3 GP in Assen, Netherlands to finish 2-3 in a finish so close that it had to be decided by a photo.
Cortese’s second place to eventual winner Maverick Vinales means he slips seven points in the standings and clearly he was disappointed with the outcome. But as the competition is evolving between these two riders as a two-way fight for the title, the German racer needs to retain the consistency he has shown so far and he will retain the Spanish rider’s biggest challenger.
The race also highlighted the considerable talents of young UK rider Danny Kent who scored his first, but certainly not his last trip to a Moto3 podium. Clearly gaining in confidence since his good performance in Silverstone in the last round, Kent a front row starter and was right in with the mix of leading bikes throughout the 22-lap race throughout the 22-lap race on the traditional Dutch circuit.
In the final shakeout only eight hundredths of a second separated the first four riders at the checkered flag and as the tightly packed riders attacked the final corner the cards were reshuffled when Luis Salom threw his Kalex-KTM into the mix to eventually be classified at fourth and retain his challenge for the title.
It was also a fine race for young Niklas Ajo on the KTM Moto3 who started on the second row and was eighth at the flag. Malaysian KTM rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin also showed good speed registering the fastest lap in the final stages of the race.
Pit Beirer, Head of KTM Motorsport who watched the race from the pit garage of the Red Bull KTM Ajo Factory Team said KTM now felt they had reached a firm base from which to fight for the wins and maybe even the title.
“In the beginning we made some big steps with the development of the Moto3 GP bike and now we have made some smaller steps and I feel we are now in a position to fight for the victories. Now its up to the riders to do what they can and as we saw today we have two fantastic young riders in Sandro and Danny who are right up there with the best. We know it is a very tight competition but we are ready to fight.”
With four of the nine riders on KTM-driven Moto3 bikes in the top eight on today’s hard fought race, the Austrian brand had underlined its intention to be a major contender in this exciting new race format debuting this season in MotoGP.
1, Maverick Viñales, Spain, FTR Honda, 38’45.432
2, Sandro Cortese, Germany, KTM, +0.831
3, Danny Kent, GBR, KTM, +0.842
4, Luis Salom, Spain, Kalex KTM, +0.843
5, Louis Rossi, France, FTR Honda, +1.352
6, Alex Rins, Spain, Suter Honda, +5.033
7, Alexis Masbou, France, Honda, +7.817
8, Niklas Ajo, Finland, KTM, +7.855
9, Efren Vazquez, Spain, FTR Honda, +8.037
10, Miguel Oliveira, Portugal, Suter Honda, +8.243
11, Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Malaysia, KTM, +8.378
15, Hector Faubel, Spain, Kalex KTM, +12.533
16, Arthur Sissis, Australia, KTM +12.654
19, Alberto Moncayo, Kalex KTM, +12.944
20, Brad Binder, RSA, Kalex KTM, +21.342
Moto3 Standings after Round 7
1, M. Viñales, 130
2, Cortese, 123
3, Salom, 88
4, Fenati, 65
5, Rossi, 56
8, Khairuddin, 49
9, Kent, 42
12, Moncayo, 36
13, Sissis, 31
15, Faubel, 29
19, Ajo, 14
25, Binder, 5