Moto3 2021
Round 1

Yuki Kunii close to scoring his first point in Qatar

qa Losail International Circuit

Moto3 star Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) had a thrilling start to his first season with Honda, taking third place in the first Grand Prix of the day, just 0.094 seconds behind the winner.

Yuki Kunii close to scoring his first point in Qatar

The 23-year-old South African started from pole position and fought for the lead throughout.

The lead group numbered a dozen riders, with positions changing at every corner, and the windy conditions making slipstreaming more important than ever. Binder, contesting his 100th Grand Prix, led on many occasions, riding with breathtaking accuracy and using the slipstream superbly. On the last lap he thought he had placed himself in the correct place, just behind the two riders ahead, but a gust of wind pushed him wide at Turn 12, leaving him with too much work to do in the final few corners.

Next Honda across the finish line was Gabriel Rodrigo (Team Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) in fifth place, less than nine tenths of a second behind the winner. The 24-year-old Argentinean was one of the fastest riders in the race but lost vital time in the final laps when a collision pushed him off the track and down to 13th. He did brilliantly to recover so well from that incident.

Four of Honda’s top riders suffered ill-luck at the hands of over-aggressive rivals. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) was taken out on the very first lap, while Jeremy Alcoba (Team Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW, John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) and Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) were side-swiped in one go on lap three.

Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) rode a great race to eighth after starting the race from last on the grid. The 23-year-old from Chiba had a tough weekend because he missed pre-season testing after contracting COVID-19 and is still dealing with the after-effects of the virus.

Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) started his second Grand Prix season with a 16th place finish, the 18-year-old from Setagaya missing his first World Championship points by just 0.066 seconds. Kunii might have scored those points but for losing some time in the early laps, after which he came back strongly.

Andi Farid Izdihar (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) ended his first Moto3 Grand Prix in 21st. The 23-year-old Indonesian also lost time early on when another rider crashed in front of him. After that he was riding alone, without the benefit of a slipstream from the riders ahead of him.

First race of today was the Honda-supported Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup in which all riders race identical Honda NSF250R machines. Sixteen-year-old Japanese rider Taiyo Furusato backed up his victory in yesterday’s season-opening race with another win, this time an amazing 9.077 seconds ahead of the pack. To underline Furusato’s dominance the next six riders were covered by 0.076 seconds.

Furusato was joined on the podium by 16-year-old countryman Kanta Hamada and 13-year-old Malaysian Hakim Danish, who also finished third in yesterday’s race.

Riders and teams remain in Qatar for next weekend’s Doha Grand Prix, also at Losail. Then the paddock returns to Europe for the first European race of 2021, the Portuguese Grand Prix at Algarve International Circuit on April 18.

Darryn Binder
Darryn Binder 40
Petronas Sprinta Racing
It was a difficult race with the wind, which was a lot stronger than I expected. Every time I got to the front I just felt like I was waiting for someone to come past, because if you were leading when you got to the main straight it was crazy. If you were second or third you could get a really good draft into the first corner. I rolled on a bit too much in the final corner and got caught by the wind, it was insane how much slower I was when the wind got me. To be on the podium in the first race of the season was exactly what I needed though. What a great first weekend with the team and the Honda, I’m super happy and can’t thank the team enough!

Yuki Kunii
Yuki Kunii 92
Honda Team Asia
It has been a tough race, with many crashes and a complicated condition of the track that didn’t allow me to ride on my pace. In the first laps I lost contact with the top group. I kept going, but my pace wasn’t enough. Finally, I was fighting and trying to do my best until the finish, but I couldn’t get any points, and I should learn from this mistake.

Andi Farid Izdihar
Andi Farid Izdihar 19
Honda Team Asia
My start was not bad, maintaining my position in the group. I felt I could do even better, but someone crashed in front of me, so I needed to go wide, losing contact with the group. I tried to recover, but it is difficult to have a good pace riding alone on this track. Then I decided to do my best to finish the race. It’s the first Moto3 experience for me, and now I’m much more confident for round two here in Qatar.

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