Masia Fights For Portimao Podium, Finishes Close Fifth
Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) played a starring role in the day’s thrilling opening race, which served up all usual thrills of a Moto3 encounter.
The leading pack counted up to a dozen riders at times, with positions changing at every corner, all the way from the start to the chequered flag.
Masia did brilliantly, fighting his way through from ninth on the grid to join the lead pack in the early laps. And the 22-year-old Spaniard kept working his way forward from there, briefly making it into second place shortly after half-distance. He started the final lap in fourth, with the podium clearly in sight, but a frantic first few corners cost him several places, some of which he regained to cross the finish line in fifth place, just two tenths of a second behind the winner.
Kaito Toba (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) also enjoyed a strong race, steadily pushing forward from 11th on the grid to squeeze into fourth place at one point. However, he was muscled off-line by rivals, which dropped the 22-year-old from Fukuoka to 12th at the finish.
The last NSF250RW riders in the World Championship points were Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) and Riccardo Rossi (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) in 14th and 15th.
Aji Mario (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) had a great race to start his second Grand Prix season, coming through from 22nd on the grid to move inside the top 20 and finish 18th, only three places outside of the points.
Two places behind the 19-year-old Indonesian came 17-year-old Japanese team-mate Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) who had qualified 66th.
Aji, Furusato and their fellow Moto3 riders are already their way to round two of the Moto3 World Championship, which takes place this coming Sunday at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina.