The last race day of the 2022 season got underway with a masterful display from its freshly crowned world champion, Izan Guevara leading the way throughout the 23 laps and resisting a last lap attack to claim a seventh victory of the season. A thoroughly disappointed Deniz Öncü was denied a maiden victory by six hundredths of a second at the chequered flag, while Sergio Garcia enjoyed a mostly solo cruise into third, securing him the runner-up position in the championship.
Having all started from the front row, Guevara, Öncü and Garcia held station going into turn one, while Ivan Ortolá snuck ahead of Diogo Moreira and Ayumu Sasaki. David Muñoz pulled off another of his lightning starts to go from 13th on the grid to challenging the Leopard Racing riders for seventh by the end of the opening lap.
Lap two saw the leading five men starting to stretch a one second gap over the next group led by Sasaki and Muñoz but the leaders soon became a foursome, when Moreira served his long lap penalty on lap three, dropping him to the middle of the chasing pack. Guevara, Öncü, Garcia and Ortolá were left at the front of proceedings, status quo maintained for the time being. While Sasaki and Muñoz kept each other busy, the pursuit was losing further ground, three seconds behind the leader by lap five.
Half a dozen laps into the race, only Öncü seemed able to match Guevara’s pace, while Garcia and Ortolá dropped one second back. The two Spaniards were under little pressure from behind, where Sasaki and Muñoz were still squabbling and making no progress in reeling in the podium battle. The likes of Moreira, Dennis Foggia, Dani Holgado, Ryusei Yamanaka and Xavi Artigas were keeping close to the fight for fifth, while Tatsuki Suzuki started struggling, dropped out of point scoring positions on lap nine and was soon handed a long lap penalty.
Back at the front, Guevara and Öncü had established a significant advantage over the battle for third, where Garcia was still fending off Ortolá. Ten laps in, the rookie’s early pace seemed to be fading somewhat, allowing Garcia a second’s worth of breathing room and switching focus to defending fourth, although Sasaki & Co were still not much of a threat at that stage, over three seconds back. Despite the rather sizeable group, there wasn’t much movement, mainly Sasaki, Muñoz and Artigas occasionally challenging each other.
Although Öncü spent the whole race glued to the world champion’s rear tyre, he had to bide his time for an overtake and was yet to make a move going into the final 10 laps. With Garcia in a lonely third, the rate at which Ortolá lost ground put him into the path of the chasing pack for the final half dozen laps. Sasaki and Muñoz quickly took the opportunity to demote the youngster to 6th position, with a big bunch waiting to pounce just behind – although one man down once Artigas tumbled out of contention with six laps to go. Foggia finally broke into the top five with four laps remaining, helped by the shenanigans between Muñoz and Ortolá, and then the Italian recover another position on the next lap but it was still not enough to make a difference to the championship standings while Garcia was in a comfortable third.
Back in the victory battle, Öncü was still looking for a gap around Guevara going into the final lap and the move finally came at turn eight, but better drive out of final corner helped Guevara reclaim victory to end his championship winning season in style. Garcia took the chequered flag six seconds later to secure second in the world championship standings, while Foggia defended fourth over the last lap to claim the final invite to tonight’s gala. Sasaki rounded out the top five, with Adrian Fernandez making some very late progress to take sixth place, ahead of Muñoz and Moreira – who secured Rookie of the Year with an eight-place finish. Birthday boy Yamanaka gifted himself ninth, Holgado completed the top 10, John McPhee said farewell to Moto3 with an 11th place and Ortolá dropped from fifth to 12th after a tricky final lap.
On to the party now...
|27||64||Mario Suryo Aji||Honda||50.156|