Mahindra shows its mettle
Eighteen-year-old ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia comes within half a second of Indian maker’s first Moto3 win
MAPFRE Team Mahindra rider Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia claimed a fine, fighting third place in a thrilling French Grand Prix — taking a leading role in a fearsome front pack, and missing his and the only Indian marque’s first Moto3 victory by less than half a second.
The 18-year-old Italian had qualified on the front row for the first time, and he didn’t put a wheel wrong throughout a punishingly competitive 24 laps of the 4,185 km Bugatti circuit at the legendary French motor-racing venue.
Pecco started strongly, battled for the lead in the early laps, then played it cool in an eight-bike brawl, saving his strength for the closing battle. The new 2015 Mahindra MGP3O again showed its strength at the highest level, with Bagnaia particularly strong at the crucial corner-entry overtaking points.With four laps remaining, the Italian attacked again. He moved up to second, then took the lead as they started the last lap.
Now it was a four-way scrap, won by inches by Romano Fenati (KTM) and Enea Bastianini (Honda). Championship leader Danny Kent (Honda) was fourth.
Bagnaia proved that Mahindra’s luck seems to have turned and the hard work paid off. Two more MGP3O riders finished in the points. Second Mapfre Team Mahindra rider Juanfran Guevara was a brave 12th, less than a fortnight after surgery for a broken collarbone; rookie Stefano Manzi claimed his first point at 15th. The next race is the Italian GP at Mugello, in two weeks.
Interviewed after the race third-placed Bagnaia said: “This was for sure the best race of my career. I fought a lot with the other two Italian riders, and that was great. In the remaining two laps, I tried to take first position, and I could make it. But it was so difficult, a real fight. I gave my best, and this third place is the result. I’m very happy, because the team and Mahindra have been working a lot. This is a good reward. Now we have to continue.”
Mapfre Team Mahindra rider Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia celebrates his third place in the French Moto3 Grand Prix at the weekend.