Sasaki finishes eighth in thrilling race in Barcelona

Japanese rider places inside the top ten at Catalan GP, with John McPhee challenging for victory and crossing the line 13th.

PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto3 riders Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee had an eventful race at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit. Sasaki claimed his second-best finish of the season with a fight up the order to eighth whilst team-mate McPhee was embroiled in an exciting race-long battle for the win. Whilst in the mix for a podium on the final lap, McPhee experienced a huge highside. He somehow kept the bike upright, but dropped to 13th at the chequered flag as a result.

Despite starting from the seventh row of the grid, Sasaki climbed 11 places on his way to finishing eighth. He made a great start and quickly reached the leading group, where he fought amongst the pack throughout the remaining laps. The Japanese rider took his second top ten finish of the season and now occupies 20th in the overall standings with 22 points.

Following a great race start, McPhee was in contention for the victory and led the way for several laps, but on the final time around the track – when in fifth place – he took action to avoid a massive highside. Remarkably keeping upright, he crossed the line in 13th place. After the first seven races of the season, McPhee is 9th in the Moto3 World Championship, with a total of 47 points.

The next race for the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing team will be the Dutch GP at Assen, on June 28th-30th.


Johan Stigefelt – Team Director
“Once again, this was a very entertaining and nerve wracking Moto3 race. John was very intelligent in his approach and he was one of the strongest riders on track today. The lines he took and the way he rode was fantastic. In these types of races it’s very difficult to predict where you are going to finish and on the last lap he almost went down at Turn 10. Fortunately, he made an amazing save and was able to finish 13th. I’m very happy with this because he was fighting at the front, led the race and didn’t give up at any time.
Ayumu had a difficult weekend, but we had another talk with him that helped him to compose himself. He had a great race and showed that he is very strong. I’m very happy with his performance today as he has shown that he can be up there.”

#71 Ayumu Sasaki
“Throughout the weekend I had struggled to set fast laps with the soft tyre, but we knew that with the hard tyre I could do well. What I had to do was focus on using the hard compound to the best of my ability and gain places as soon as possible. I tried to finish in the top ten, because at the last few races I hadn’t scored many points, so I pushed during the whole race. At the start I was able to pass many riders, but towards the middle I lost some confidence on corner entry and that halted my progress a bit. I had some luck because several riders retired, but it was very important for me to get this result and pick up points. We need to keep taking steps forward to get into the fight for the podium and for the victory. Now it’s time to focus on Assen.”

#17 John McPhee
“I’m a little frustrated with the final result, because during the whole race I gave my all. I felt very comfortable and the team did a fantastic job this weekend, so I have to thank them. I felt very good throughout the race, and was managing my pace well. When two or three riders passed me, I was able to quickly recover those positions. In a race you usually want to lead and be at the front, but you have to be careful on the brakes when there are so many riders in the front group.
What happened on the last lap was my mistake; it was frustrating, but I have to take away the fact that I was able to make the save and that I was consistent all weekend – especially today. I honestly don’t know how I managed to save that highside, but the important thing is that I did, and that I was able to finish the race in the points. I’m not happy with the result but I’m pleased about my pace. I’m looking forward to Assen.”