Dutch TT, Assen: KTM continues Moto3 domination
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom put in a brilliant last lap move on Maverick Vinales on the classic Assen circuit in Netherlands to seal the Moto3 GP at the Dutch TT and pick up his third consecutive win and extend his championship points lead.
Vinales finished second and Alex Rins made it once again an all Spanish, all KTM podium.
The race was a hard fought battle, especially between the handful of riders that have emerged at the top of the table and once again it was a fine tactical race by Salom. He was at third with three laps to go but he is now well known for pacing himself and setting up to make a surprise move in the closing stages.
But in the last stages of the race it was never certain if Salom would find his way through a tight competition between teammates Rins and Marc Marquez who were all challenging for the minor podium places while Vinales looked reasonably comfortable out in front.
Then suddenly it was Salom tucked in behind the blue KTM of Vinales and everyone sensed he was biding his time until the chicane. True to form Salom put down the hammer at exactly the right moment, leaving Vinales neither time nor place to make a counter challenge. As Sandro Cortese for the Red Bull KTM Ajo Factory Team did in the debut season of the Moto3 GP, which he went on to win, Salom is maturing as a clever tactical rider under the tutorship of team boss Aki Ajo.
Pit Beirer, Head of KTM Motorsports was at Assen to see his factory team perform and paid tribute to Aki Ajo and his riders. “Aki is able to give the riders just the right the skills and confidence. We saw it last year with Sandro (Cortese) and now we see it again this year with Luis (Salom). Luis is the smartest and most confident rider at the moment. When you make a last minute move like that you have to be very confident you can do it at just the right moment. You can’t give the other riders any chance to get back at you. He’s a great rider and mentally he’s very strong,” he said.
Salom now leads the championship points and has a 10-point lead on Vinales and it remains to be seen how the rest of the season will shape up for these two talented Spanish riders, both on the KTM Moto3 factory machine.
It was also an excellent race for Australian Arthur Sissis of the Red Bull KTM Ajo Factory Team who was running at seventh until he had to concede a place to Jack Miller when race marshals declared he had overtaken while a yellow flag was out. He rode on to finish eighth and is now eleventh in the standings. Niklas Ajo, Finland, KTM rounded off the top ten. Seven of the top ten riders were on KTM-driven machinery.
Zulfahmi Khairuddin, the third factory rider for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team had a big high side in Saturday’s FP3 and was concussed. He was unable to ride in the qualifying and had to start from the back of the grid, eventually finishing in seventeenth place.
Photo Copyright: Simona Vogel for Vroom Media