Today’s Grand Finale at Valencia saw a race of wits, as the Moto3 field faced treacherous conditions on a wet track.
PETRONAS Sprinta Racing rider Ayumu Sasaki lined up in 25th place for today’s Valencia Grand Prix, with replacement rider Izam Ikmal following close behind in 30th.
Making his first ever appearance in the Moto3 World Championship, Malaysian rider Izam Ikmal started the 23-lap race in good form. With three riders immediately falling victim to the slippery conditions, Ikmal chose to ride with his head and gradually build his momentum. Despite his best efforts the sixteen-year-old was caught out at turn three, ending his debut race with 15 laps to go.
Immediately making progress, Ayumu Sasaki completed the first lap in 18th place. The Japanese rider continued to improve as he focused his attentions on a point scoring result. Taking care to bring his #71 machine home, Sasaki rode a smart race whilst working his way up through the field. With fellow rider Nepa four seconds ahead, Sasaki impressively closed the gap in the final laps, before passing Nepa and taking 11th place at the chequered flag.
Johan Stigefelt – Team Manager
“Its been a tough weekend here in Valencia because the weather has been difficult for everyone. In the end Ayumu finished 11th and took some more points for the Championship. We had expected more for this last race but it’s been difficult and there’s been many crashes. If the weather had been better, I’m sure we could have fought further up at the top end.
Izam also had a difficult weekend; it wasn’t easy for him to come here, so we just wanted him to take it steady and learn something. Unfortunately he crashed in the race and a few times in the practice. It’s not easy but hopefully he can take away some experience and use this in CEV next week.”
#71 AYUMU SASAKI – P11
“It’s been a tough weekend with the weather conditions, so I’m happy to finish the race in 11th today. Throughout the practice sessions in the rain, I didn’t feel great at all, so I just tried to focus on fixing my riding style, whilst my team worked hard to make the set-up better for me. I’m pleased that I didn’t crash in the race because to finish today was very important. Eleventh this weekend isn’t what we wanted but it was the maximum I could do this time. I just want to say thanks to the team and especially my Crew Chief Mark, because next year we will change around. It’s been a difficult year because I had a lot higher expectations for myself, as did the team, but I have learnt so much and I’m confident that I will come back stronger next season.”
#26 IZAM IKMAL – DNF
“Today my target was just to finish the race and gain some good experience within the Moto3 World Championship. At the beginning of the race, I had less confidence with bike and the tyres but step by step I improved my lap time. In these conditions it can be very hard to find your limit; you can crash going too fast and too slow. During the race I was in my normal line when I lost the rear in turn three. I’m OK but I’m really sorry to the team. I would like to thank Dato Razlan, Zulfahmi, Johan and the rest of the team for this opportunity and their support. Hopefully next week, I can bring this experience to the CEV and improve my performance there.”