KTM riders again made it an all-Spanish affair in Sunday’s Moto3 GP on the Le Mans racing circuit in France with Maverick Vinales winning in front of Alex Rins and Red Bull KTM Ajo factory rider Luis Salom taking the minor podium place.
Vinales becomes the first rider of the season to take two victories and he now moves ahead in the championship standings. The Spanish teenager now leads Salom by 13 points with Rins in third place.
Vinales looked impressive throughout the race and really turned up the heat in the final laps. He was justifiably pleased with his ride: “This was an incredible win. I went very fast considering the condition of the track,” he said. “We improved some things on the bike in tests two weeks ago and this was good for us.”
The three front riders continually jockeyed for positions in the first half of the race together with Germany’s Jonas Folger (Kalex-KTM). Folger led for much of the time and was in line for a podium finish but he lost touch with the leading three when he rode off the track, seeming to swerve to dodge crash debris. He eventually coasted home in a comfortable fourth place.
The race was declared as dry however parts of the track were still wet when it started, which presented the teams with some setup problems.
It was also a tough weekend for Salom, who crashed heavily on Saturday and rode with a lot of pain in his hand. “It has been a difficult weekend for me. We had some setup problems on the grid but it was still a good race and good to be on the podium.” Salom, well known for his last lap attacks started putting in very fast lap times at the close of the race but said this time he didn’t want to risk anything during the final lap.
Also unlucky were Salom’s factory teammate Zulfahmi Khairuddin and KTM rider Niklas Ajo. They had successfully broken away from the following group and were engaged in a battle for places seven and eight when with just five laps to go Fahmi had a huge highside. His airborne bike came down catching Ajo on the foot and both riders slid off into the gravel. Both walked away from the crash.
Australian Arthur Sissis, the third Red Bull KTM Ajo factory rider finished in the points at thirteenth place.
The French GP was another race that underlined the success of the KTM Moto3 bike with the top six riders all on KTM-driven machines.
1, Maverick Viñales, Spain, KTM, 42:05.448
2, Alex Rins, Spain, KTM, +1.264
3, Luis Salom, Spain, KTM, +1.387
4, Jonas Folger, Germany, Kalex KTM, +14.593
5, Alex Marquez, Spain, KTM, +37.949
6, Jakub Kornfeil, Czech Republic, Kalex KTM, +40.295
7, Romano Fenati, Italy, FTR Honda, +43.325
8, Brad Binder, Republic of South Africa, Suter Honda, +43.537
9, Alexis Masbou, France, FTR Honda, +45.511
10, Isaac Viñales, Spain, FTR Honda, +45.674
13, Arthur Sissis, Australia, KTM, +58.713
15, Philipp Oettl, Germany, Kalex KTM, +1:18.027
16, Livio Loi, Belgium, Kalex KTM, +1:18.384
18, Toni Finsterbusch, Germany, Kalex KTM, +1:27.726
19, Ana Carrasco, Spain, KTM, +1:27.754
21, Jasper Iwema, Netherlands, Kalex KTM, +1:28.165
24, Eric Granado, Brazil, Kalex KTM, 1 Lap
DNF, Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Malaysia, KTM, 5 Laps
DNF, Niklas Ajo, Finland, KTM, 5 Laps
DNF, Jules Danilo, France, Kalex KTM, 11 Laps
DNF, Florian Alt, Germany, Kalex KTM, 18 Laps
Moto3 Standings after Round 4
1, M. Viñales, 90
2, Salom, 77
3, Rins, 61
4, Folger, 53
5, Binder, 32
6, Khairuddin, 28
7, Kornfeil, 27
8, Marquez, 24
9, Masbou, 23
10, Oliveira, 20
11, Sissis, 19
12, Ajo, 18
19, Iwema, 5
21, Oettl, 1
22, Loi, 1
Moto3 Manufacturers Standings after Round 4
1, KTM, 100
2, Kalex KTM, 53
3, Suter Honda, 33