Ayumu Sasaki took advantage of an error out front from his teammate and then clung on to his lead, with a tight defensive run through the final corner of the Ricardo Tormo circuit bringing a first win of 2023 in the Valenican Moto3 Grand Prix, the final round.
The early part of the race had belonged to his Liqui Moly Intact GP teammate Collin Veijer.
The rider from the Netherlands started from pole, but had a crash on the sighting lap, leading to damage to his bike and helmet. The team mechanics frantically got to work to return him to the front of the grid, where he lead comfortably until an error on lap sixteen allowed Sasaki through.
From there on the Japanese rider took control of the lead group, back to five as the in-fighting had brought Deniz Oncu back into play.
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It all came down to the final corner. After several changes in the tussling behind, David Alonso had worked his way back into position for a last corner lunge, a placed where he had been very successful with overtakes in the race.
After a much more feisty, angry performance, an elated Sasaki punched the air as he lead over the line by just 0.082s in his final Moto3 race before his move up to Moto2.
The result brings the Husqvarna outfit the team title in the lightweight class.
David Alonso, the rookie of the year in the class, took the chequered flag second, his eighth podium in a stellar rookie season with Valresa GasGas Aspar.
Following a strong start from sixth on the grid to feature in the lead group, Ivan Ortola fought for positon with Veijer for the final podium slot, his third rostrum visit of the year, but his first not to stand on the top spot.
Veijer was clearly disappointed to miss out in fourth after leading for so long. Behind, after a comeback when forced wide by Alonso earlier in the race, Oncu looked relieved to finish, still sore and in pain from his practice fall and running on determination to sign out of Moto3 with a strong performance, before he too takes a seat in Moto2 next season.
Joel Kelso had gotten a strong start from fourth but once passed by Ortola and Alonso he never recovered. In a duo on track with Jose Antonio Rueda the Red Bull KTM Ajo rookie eventually found a way past too, leaving the CFMoto rider seventh as the team exits Moto3.
Holgado fights back for eighth.
The second CFMoto Pruestel racing bike, with Xavier Artigas aboard, cut across track in a wild pass clipping the handlebars of Diogo Moreira on the opening lap, taking both him and Vincente Perez out of the race. Daniel Holgado was also caught up in the incident, doing his best to avoid a fall he dropped to 19th.
Cutting his way forward with a series of hard but fair moves, the Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider was faster than the lead group over the closing laps as he climbed to eighth in an impressive run.
David Munoz latched onto the back of the flying Spaniard, to finish ninth for BOE Motorsports, with Ryusei Yamanaka following to complete the top ten on the second GasGas Aspar bike.
They pulled clear of Taiyo Furusato, who was eleventh for Honda Team Asia, under pressure from Filippo Farioli, who had to settle for twelfth for Red Bull KTM Tech3.
Champion Masia finishes 13th.
Masia struggled from eleventh on the grid to 22nd in last years Valencia race and again had a race to forget. With the championship sealed the result was thankfully academic for the Leopard rider as he dropped back over the race, with Adrian Fernandez directly behind him for much of the distance.
The Spaniard celebrated with the home crowd, but had continued to move backward, with a late push moving him from 15th to 13th at the finish.
The remaining points on offer went to his teammate Fernandez in 14th and Stefano Nepa in 15th for the Angeluss MTA Team.
Romano Fenati just missed out in 16th on his final Moto3 run out with the Snipers team.
Crashes, injuries and replacements
Vincente Perez finished his final race filling in for Ana Carrasco at BOE Motorsports in the gravel in the early fall with Moreira. Artigas served a double long lap penalty for causing the fall, finishing 19th.
Lorenzo Fellon was the only other rider not to finish.
David Almansa started the weeked for Finetwork IntactGP as a wildcard. By P1’s end it was clear he was too unwell to continue, so Marcos Ruda (22nd) took his place.
There were no VisionTrack riders in the season closing grand prix.
Joshua Whatley, during his fall in Qatar on the opening lap, was hit by another rider, leaving him with a broken tibia and fibula.
P3 saw a huge crash for Scott Ogden, with the British rider landing on his shoulder. Ogden was declared unfit before qualifying with a dislocated shoulder.
Where does that leave the championship?
A win for Sasaki sees the final championship gap at just six points. Masia’s final champion’s total stands at 274 after picking up three points, with Sasaki’s win moving him to 268.
David Alonso secured third overall with his performance, with a final 245 to his name.