McPhee battles back for sixth at Italian GP

John McPhee gains 11 places at Mugello on raceday, whilst Ayumu Sasaki crashes out when fighting for a top ten finish.

Both PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto3 riders rose up the order on Sunday at Mugello, with John McPhee going from the sixth row of the grid to sixth place after an excellent fightback and Ayumu Sasaki also strong – until a crash four laps before the end of the race.

McPhee made an extraordinary start from 17th and was up into sixth place before the end of the opening lap. The Briton moved into podium positions at various points throughout the race and, after tussling amongst a large group of riders, eventually crossed the line sixth, continuing a run of good form including victory last time out at the French GP.

Sasaki would not see the chequered flag after a great comeback of his own, as he would go down at Turn 3 with 4 laps remaining. The Japanese rider had been fighting for a spot in the top ten and had caught the leading group when a rider in front of him fell, leaving no space to avoid the incident, taking him out of the Italian GP.

McPhee is 8th in the overall standings with 44 points whilst Sasaki is 19th with 14. The next challenge for the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing riders will be the Catalan GP, which will be held from June 14-16th at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit.

Johan Stigefelt – Team Director

“It was a great race, with a fantastic performance by our riders. Yesterday we had a big problem in qualifying, but we talked to John and Ayumu about the opportunities in the race. Mugello is a circuit that is all about battles and slipstreams. John was determined to be at the front, he had the speed and he got there, so I’m very happy for him. Ayumu had very bad luck; the crash wasn’t his fault, because another rider fell in front of him and he couldn’t do anything about it. He was fighting for the top ten, which was his goal. I feel bad for him, because he wanted to have a great race here. We will come back stronger in Barcelona.”

#71 Ayumu Sasaki

“First of all, I want to thank the team for their hard work, because it’s been a difficult weekend. During Friday and Saturday I lost my confidence and my pace, and this showed in qualifying. But the team never gave up and worked to give me the best possible bike. I felt good in the Warm Up and even better in the race. We started from 19th, so it was difficult to reach the front at the start. In addition, we were using the hard tyre and couldn’t go so fast at the beginning. We managed to get to the group and I was fighting for the points, and that is the most important and positive thing. The crash was very unfortunate, but that’s racing; I couldn’t avoid it. Next up is Barcelona, where we tested recently, so we just have to concentrate and try to do what we learned. I hope I can finish the coming races in the top ten.”

#17 John McPhee

“Anything can happen at Mugello. I made a great start and was able to catch the frontrunners in the opening corners. I tried to be smart and get onto the home straight fourth at the end, because I knew that if I was in first or second, two or three riders would pass me. On the last lap I got on the brakes very late on the last corner and another rider passed me. Nevertheless, finishing in P6, ahead of the World Championship leader and some of the riders who are at the sharp end of the standings, is positive. These points are good after a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday. We were able to show that we had speed and that yesterday was a result of isolated errors. I’m looking forward to the next race.”