17.11.2019 | news
Disappointing end to 2019 for McPhee and Sasaki at Valencian GP
Ayumu Sasaki comes home 19th in final race for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing and John McPhee taken out at Circuit Ricardo Tormo
PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto3 duo Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee have had a disappointing end to their 2019 Moto3 World Championship campaign at today’s Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana, with Sasaki coming home 19th after a sighting lap crash and McPhee unable to finish the shortened 15-lap race after being involved in a multi-rider collision at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
Sasaki went into the race nursing injuries sustained at the Malaysian Grand Prix last time out - but even more bad luck struck him when another rider spilt oil on the sighting lap, causing him to crash and forcing a delay to the start of the race. Eventually starting from pit lane, a red flag saw the race stopped and shortened from 23 laps to 15. Struggling with pain in his broken right hand under braking in a restarted race, he was forced to settle for 19th place in his final outing for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing after three years with the team.
McPhee made a strong start after the restart and was able to immediately get stuck into the battle for the top ten as the race got underway again - until another rider highsided in front of him, leaving him with nowhere to go. Unable to rejoin, he was thankfully left unhurt in the four-bike tumble.
However, despite the fall, the World Championship standings see McPhee end the season in fifth overall, and combined with Sasaki’s 20th means the team finish the year fifth in the Team’s Championship as well as helping Honda take victory in the Constructors’ Championship.
The 2020 Moto3 World Championship season will get underway with the Qatar Grand Prix on March 8th 2020, with Khairul Idham Pawi joining John McPhee later this week at the Circuito Jerez for their first pre-season test.
Johan Stigefelt - Team Director
“It wasn’t the weekend we were hoping for, from a tough start on Friday onwards. For some reason, John was struggling a little bit and couldn’t really get up to speed the way he wanted to. He had two bad starts in the race and wasn’t as strong as usual in the opening laps, which put him in a slightly risky position and he got caught out in a crash that absolutely wasn’t his fault. It’s a pity to end the season like that, but we achieved fifth in the championship and we had a great year together. It was difficult for Ayumu to come here with his injuries, but he tried hard and didn’t give up in the race; it was important for us and for him that he was able to finish. It’s been three amazing years with him, and I hope he’s learned something growing up racing with us, and that he can go on to have a successful career.”
“This was the hardest weekend of my racing career, and one of the hardest times of my life. I didn’t expect so much pain when I started to ride on Friday, and even though it improved as the weekend progressed it was still almost impossible to race. I wanted to finish with the team and didn’t want to give up though. I didn’t expect to crash on the out lap, but I touched oil from another rider and highsided. I wasn’t prepared for the crash and I landed hard on my hand. The guys did an incredible job to fix my bike, and despite the pain I was in I knew I couldn’t give up when I saw that they didn’t give up on me. Among the many things the team have taught me in three years, one of the most important is to never quit. It wasn’t a good race but the most important thing today was to finish. I’m leaving for another team, but I’ll never forget PETRONAS Sprinta Racing - and I’d love to return to them in Moto2 or in MotoGP some day!”
“It’s an unfortunate way to end a strong season because the crash was out of my control. But I’m already trying to put it behind me because it wasn’t me that caused it, and there are plenty of strong points to focus on from the weekend. We can be happy to be fifth in the championship and to have achieved a lot this year. We’ve learned a lot that will help us start next season even stronger, and I need to say a massive thanks to the team for all their hard work this year and for helping me grow as a rider. My focus is already on 2020 and I’m excited to see what we can achieve in the new season.”