Xavier Artigas (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) won his debut Grand Prix victory at the end of Moto3’s thrilling tenth-season finale at Valencia today.
The race was fought out by a leading pack of up to a dozen riders, with Artigas in the thick of the action for much of the 23 laps and grabbing the lead for the last time at the final corner of the final lap. The 18-year-old Spaniard took the chequered flag just 0.043 seconds in front. The top five finishers were covered by half a second.
Artigas rode a superb race, fighting for position, then pushing extra hard in the final lap. He was one of only two riders in the race to choose the hard tyre, which may not have given him the best grip for much of the race, but obviously worked when it mattered most.
Artigas’s debut win gave Honda its sixth victory of the 2021 Moto3 season.
Team-mate Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) was also involved in the contest for victory and briefly took the lead on the final lap, but he ran wide, causing World Champion Pedro Acosta to fall. Foggia was given a three-second penalty for that move, which relegated him to 13th, two places behind Honda’s second-best finisher John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW).
Nonetheless Foggia completed the 2021 World Championship as runner-up, with an impressive five victories and five further podiums. The 20-year-old Italian was in with a chance of winning the title until he was knocked out of last Sunday’s Algarve Grand Prix.
Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) slid out of the race just before half-distance. The 18-year-old from Setagaya was inside the top 20 when he lost the front at the last corner. His team-mate Andi Farid Izdihar (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) didn’t make the start, after breaking a bone in his left hand when he fell during free practice yesterday.
Moto3 testing for the 2022 season commences at Jerez, Spain, next weekend.