Australian Jack Miller took line honors in the opening Moto3 World Championship race at the Losail Circuit in Qatar, the first of 18 rounds of the competition. It was the 19-year-old Australian’s first Moto3 win and was a great debut with the Red Bull KTM Ajo Factory team.
Miller who had a front row start swooped to the front at the start of the race shadowed by Spaniard Marc Marquez. The two riders then settled down to swap the lead back and forth and at one point had a 3.5 second lead on the rest of the pack.
Behind the leaders a battle raged for the minor podium place with engagement by no less than five or six riders. The group narrowed the gap to the two leaders to less than a second in the closing laps setting up what was to be a thrilling final dash to the line.
Miller who before then race had pledged to be patient and go for the maximum points, played his hand well. Going into the final corners the Australian was perfectly placed to capitalize on a small mistake by rival Marquez. Marquez went wide in the corner, Miller quickly grabbed the advantage and went on to take line honors and pick up maximum points in the opening round.
Immediately after the race, an excited Miller said he had gone all out in the final lap. “It was pretty scary going into the final lap because the tires were more worn than I expected them to be. But I just gave it my all. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. It was a really good first race. its a great way to start the season, but its that. Its the start. We still have a long way to go and I still have a lot to learn.”
Miller’s teammate Karel Hanika, who won his berth in the factory team after taking victory in the 2013 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup rode a solid race from nineteenth position on the grid to finish in thirteenth place to pick up his first world championship points in his debit race. Both riders are on the KTM RC250 GP machine.
Factory team boss Aki Ajo said it had been great to start the season with a win but underlined it would be a hard fought competition in 2014. “It will be really tough in the small bike category but somehow also very interesting. The tough competition between the manufacturers makes it more interesting for everyone and for us it is even more motivation to work even harder. Never give up!”
The first of the 18-round competition for the 2014 Moto3 World Championship set the scene for what will be a hard fought battle for the title this season.
Moto GP of Qatar – Losail Circuit – Round 1
1, Jack Miller, AUS, KTM, 38’05.810
2, Alex Marquez, ESP, Honda, 38’06.043
3, Efren Vazquez, ESP, Honda, 38’06.090
4, Miquel Oliveira, POR, Mahindra, 38’06.105
5, Alex Rins, ESP, Honda, 38’06.179
6, Jakub Kornfeil, CZE, KTM, 38’06.396
7, Alexis Masbou, FRA, Honda,38’07.919
8, Isaac Viñales, ESP, KTM, 38’07.971
9, Niccolo Antonelli, ITA, KTM, 38’13.963
10, Francesco Bagnaia, ITA, KTM, 38’13.983
12, Romano Fenati, ITA, KTM, 38’14.029
14, Karel Hanika, CZE, KTM, 38’17.102
16, Enea Bastianini, ITA, KTM, 38’27.969
DNF, Eric Granado, BRA, KTM
DNF, Hafiq Azmi, MAL, KTM
Moto3 Standings after Round 1
1, Miller, 25
2, Marquez, 20
3, Vazquez, 16
4, Oliveira, 13
5, Rins, 11
6, Kornfeil, 10
7, Masbou, 9
8, Viñales, 8
9, Antonelli, 7
10, Bagnaia, 6
12, Fenati, 4
14, Hanika, 2
Moto3 Manufacturers Standings after Round 1
1, KTM, 25
2, Honda, 20
3, Mahindra, 13
Image courtesy KTM Racing