Phillip Island, 24 October 2016: Independent Mahindra rider Darryn Binder was just five hundredths of a second from a top-three finish in a chaotic Australian Mvoto3 GP at Phillip Island, while Aspar Mahindra Team rider, Jorge Martin, fought through from the back of the grid to a valuable sixth place.
Another independent Mahindra finished seventh, a best-ever placing also for Marcos Ramirez, team-mate to Binder in the Platinum Bay Real Estate team.
The results came in a frantic ten-lap sprint after a multiple rider accident brought the planned 23-lap race to an early stop. Second Aspar Mahindra Team rider, Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia, was already out of the action after falling innocent victim to another rider’s error before the crash that curtailed the first race.
The worst-injured victim of that crash was Brno GP winner John McPhee, riding an MGP3O for Mahindra’s sister-brand Peugeot Motocycles.
Bagnaia had been fighting for a top-three podium position when he was eliminated on the fourth lap. The race was red-flagged on the sixth, meaning that the bitterly disappointed Italian was not eligible for the restart.
Martin had already survived the lap-one melee, which put him to the back of the pack. He had pushed through to 17th, still moving forward, when the red flags stopped the action.
Further misfortune awaited when he stalled his engine on the formation grid. He was pushed back to pit lane and had to start from the back of a grid, depleted to 24 riders from the original 34 by a spate of crashes in the first running.
Martin (18, from Madrid) rapidly cut his way through a tight group, taking third place shortly after half-distance. But he was heading a group of 16 riders changing places constantly, slipstreaming down the straight and cutting inside on the sweeping corners of the scenic 4.448-km seaside Phillip Island circuit.
In the final shuffle, Martin finished sixth, just 15 hundredths of a second from a potential third, and inches ahead of Ramirez.
Binder, younger brother of race-winner and new champion Brad Binder (KTM), had led the pack onto the finishing straight, but lost a historic first podium by inches when Aron Canet (Honda) came out of his slipstream over the line.
The Australian race was the middle of three successive flyaway races, with the GP circus moving directly north for the Malaysian GP next weekend, before the season closes at Valencia in mid-November.
Darryn Binder, Fourth Place
“We started sixth and then on the first lap someone rode into me and I crashed. I thought my race was over. I picked my bike up and kept going. When the red flag came out I thought, ‘Maybe this is my chance.’ Fortunately enough I got to the front and thought that no one would get past me before the line. Canet slipstreamed past me right at the end. I’m still very happy with fourth. It’s the best finish of my career but would have loved to have been on the podium.”
Jorge Martin, Sixth Place
“In the first race I was involved in a fall, luckily I did not go down, but dropped to last. Anyway, I did not give up and I continued to try to score points. After the second crash, which has been very ugly, I helped Jorge Navarro to get to the pits but this burned my clutch. We changed it, but on the grid I stalled the bike and we had to start from the back. It’s a shame, because I was fighting for third despite starting last. But sixth position gives us more points in the championship. I gave the maximum, I knew I could be at the front and that if we had a better start I could have run with the first two, but with the slipstream has been very difficult to catch them.”
Mufaddal Choonia, CEO Mahindra Racing
“It was a bitterly disappointing weekend, where we had been confident of a podium finish. Instead, we are feeling robbed, when a mistake by another rider put Pecco out of the race. And who knows where McPhee might have finished, but for the crash? This takes nothing away from a fantastic race by Darryn Binder, as well as Jorge Martin and Marcos Ramirez. It is good to see Binder and Ramirez there, who have not been in the top ten before. It shows the growing strength of the Mahindra package. Finally, best wishes to McPhee, who suffered a fracture and has flown home to Scotland for treatment. We hope to see him again at Valencia.”
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2014 The Global Indian New Network (TGINN)