McPhee gives PETRONAS Sprinta Racing first ever Grand Prix victory

British rider takes the win at Le Mans Circuit in an exciting race, with Ayumu Sasaki finishing in 14th place.

The French Grand Prix saw an historic Moto3 triumph for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing and John McPhee on Sunday morning, as the Brit opened the team’s World Championship win account with a spectacular victory. He held off a series of rival riders on the final lap to take the chequered flag first. Team-mate Ayumu Sasaki placed in the points with a 14th place finish, despite having started from the eighth row of the grid.

McPhee rode a measured start to the race having opted for a medium front tyre and a soft rear, with the plan to mount an attack from the halfway mark. The plan came to fruition with a strong movement back up the order, re-taking the lead with seven laps to go. McPhee remained in the top three thereafter and crossed the finish line first to score his second Grand Prix victory – and his team’s first. McPhee is now ninth in the overall standings, with 34 points.

Despite taking off from the eighth row of the grid, Sasaki made a great comeback to reach the points for the third time this season. The Japanese placed 14th, overcoming difficulties encountered this weekend at Le Mans. After this race, Sasaki has 14 points and occupies 18th in the Moto3 standings.

The next round for the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing riders will be the Italian GP, at Mugello from May 31st to June 2nd.

Johan Stigefelt – Team Director

“We have waited a long time for this moment. It’s a reward for the team’s hard work over many years. We saw that John [McPhee] had a great pace on Saturday, despite having struggled on Friday, but we identified where we could improve. He showed that yesterday and again today. He has competed very well: He was fast, fought hard and took this result. Getting a victory like this shows that we can be up there. Now we have to maintain this momentum over the coming races.
Ayumu [Sasaki] battled hard this weekend. We had a different strategy for him, involving riding alone and showing his speed. His pace was not bad, but he couldn’t fight in the race. This is the aspect on which Ayumu must work over the coming days in order to improve.”

#71 Ayumu Sasaki

“It’s been a difficult weekend for me. I started badly and I didn’t have a great feeling with the bike. I have many things to improve on, both in terms of myself and the set-up, but luckily we have two days of testing in Barcelona on Tuesday and Wednesday and it is a good opportunity to fix things. We have to try to get ready for Mugello. I think we have the ability to set a good lap, but not to fight in the race yet. I will try to fix this and push to be at the front as soon as possible. Thanks to the team for working well and congratulations to John, who took the victory today.”

#17 John McPhee

“I can’t explain my feelings right now. I’m very excited. It has been a long time since I won and throughout the season we have suffered a lot. Transforming speed into results has been difficult, and finally we managed to achieve it yesterday by taking pole position. I have to thank the team because they have given me a lot of support. We have experienced hard weekends and we have been able to change the situation. My last victory was at Brno in the wet, so it’s amazing to also have a win in the dry. It’s my first victory of the season, but there is still a lot of time in which to take the season where we want it.

Looking back at the first four races, I have kept calm and have continued to believe in myself. The speed has always been there and in each session we’ve shown a good pace thanks to the work by the team. It’s good that we’ve taken this good result that takes us into the top ten of the World Championship, but there is still a long way to go. Things are very even in this series and each rider pushes 100%. There have been ten different winners in the last ten races and that shows that Moto3 is a tough class. There are circuits at which I am normally not fast but at which I have done well, like for example Le Mans. It’s a good result for me ahead of the coming races.”