Leopard Racing’s Andrea Locatelli was the top rider in a rain-drenched Moto3 Grand Prix at Germany’s Sachsenring, powering his KTM RC250 GP machine to an impressive second place behind race winner Khairul Idham Pawi of Malaysia. Italy’s Enea Bastianini was third.

While the young Malaysian’s winning margin was impressive as he continues to make a name for himself as a fearless rider in torrential downpours, it was also an excellent result for Italy’s Andrea Locatelli, who was impressive all weekend at the German circuit. It was a career best finish and a first ever podium for the young Italian rider. His best previous performance was also in the wet when he finished fourth in Argentina earlier this season, the only other race that Pawi has won.

Speaking in the finish area, a slightly overcome Locatelli said: “I’m very happy because this was a very difficult race but for me and my podium, it’s incredible.”

Championship leader Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM Ajo, a rider increasingly known for his races craft, took the wise approach in conditions that were far from ideal and where flying spray made visibility very limited. The South African rode with the championship lead on his mind and finished eighth, one place behind Jorge Navarro of Spain, his nearest contender for the title. In doing so he managed to drop just one point in his impressive championship lead, which is now 47 points.

Binder: “Today has been neither very good nor very bad. I felt great in the warm-up. Everything was working incredibly. In the race itself things were more difficult. I found it hard to get a good feeling with the rear, and I felt as if it would go at any moment. The positive thing is that I never went over the limit and we were able to finish the race. Obviously I’m not entirely happy with eighth place, but I have only lost one point and that is a lesser evil. Aki (Ajo) told me before the start that I should focus on doing what I know, and not to worry about anyone else.”

Locatelli was the second fastest qualifier in much dryer conditions on Saturday to secure a front row start for the first time, and a crash in the morning warm-up did not dent his confidence. He was second behind Bastianini at the start of the 27-lap race, but Binder’s teammate Bo Bendsneyder also got away well from the second row and managed to stick with the front group for the opening laps. He even briefly took the lead on his KTM RC250 GP in the third lap. Binder took the cautious approach and rode out a careful race in places 8-11, and did his best to stay out of any collateral damage.

Pawi had stormed from the second half of the pack into the lead as early as the fifth lap and immediately started to put distance between him and the rest of the pack. Meanwhile Locatelli had settled into fourth place by the fifth lap and four laps later had advanced to second. While he never threatened Pawi’s lead, Locatelli then concentrated in putting distance between him and third placed Bastianini. Bendsneyder went on to finish 12th in a race that saw around a third of the field fail to finish as riders increasingly struggled with the rain, the standing water and the visibility.

Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Race 1
Japanese teenager Ayumu Sasaki was in blistering form for the first of a pair of Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup races at the Sachsenring this weekend after riding from pole position to the top step of the podium to further consolidate his lead in the championship.

But it was no pushover for Sasaki. Spanish rival pair Raúl Fernández and Aleix Viu started alongside him on the front row and all three crossed the finish line a whisker apart.  Even they were hotly pursued by another five riders, which made a lead group of eight only 0.678 seconds apart, making it one of the most thrilling races so far this season.

Sasaki deployed some clever race craft to come off best at the checkered flag: “I was thinking of the championship. If I could win I would, if I could finish on the podium I would, I was going to be calm, I wanted points. It was all very close but I could win without a big risk, I am very happy.”

Next Race: August 14, 2016 – Red Bull Ring Spielberg (AUT)

Results Moto3 Sachsenring 2016
1. Khairul Idham Pawi (MAL), Honda, 47:07.763 min (27 laps)
2. Andrea Locatelli (ITA), KTM, +11.131 sec
3. Enea Bastianini (ITA), Honda, +13.359
4. Jakub Kornfeil (CZE), Honda, +18.541
5. Fabio di Giannantonio (ITA), Honda, +20.620
Other KTM
8. Brad Binder (RSA), KTM, +23.333
12. Bo Bendsneyder (NED), KTM, +45.005
13. Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG), KTM, +47.793
17. Philipp Oettl, (GER), KTM, +1:13.873 min
18. Romano Fenati (ITA), KTM, +1:14.813
19. Maximillian Kappler (GER), KTM, +1:15.203
21. Tim Georgi (GER), KTM, +1:23.906
23. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), KTM, +1 lap
DNF Nicolo Bulega (ITA), KTM, +13 laps
DNF Andrea Migno (ITA), KTM, +17 laps
DNF Juanfran Guevara (ESP), KTM, +19 laps
DNF Joan Mir (ESP), KTM, 0 lap
DNS Maria Herrera (ESP), KTM

Standings Moto3 2016 after 9 of 18 rounds
1. Binder, 159 points
2. Jorge Navarro (ESP), Honda, 112
3. Fenati, 93
4. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA), Mahindra, 85
5. Bulega, 75
Other KTM
11. Locatelli, 50
12. Mir, 50
14. Quartararo, 39
15. Migno, 37
17. Oettl, 32
18. Guevara, 25
22. Bendsneyder, 18
25. Rodrigo, 9
29. Herrera, 4

Results Race 1 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Sachsenring 2016
All riders on KTM RC250 RB
1. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN), 28:48.739 min (19 laps)
2. Raul Fernandez (ESP), +0.233 sec
3. Aleix Viu, (ESP), +0.244
4. Kaito Toba, (JPN), +0.451
5. Makar Yurchenko (RUS), +0.456

Standings Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup 2016 after 5 of 13 rounds
1. Sasaki, 103 points
2. Fernandez (ESP), 89
3. Viu, 67
4. Marc Garcia (ESP), 48
5. Rufino Florida (ESP), 37