Mahindra fights to podium joy at Le Mans
Mapfre Team Mahindra rider Francesco "Pecco" Bagnaia claimed a fine, fighting third place in a thrilling French Grand Prix today - 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.
Pecco Bagnaia - Third place
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,
Mufaddal Choonia - CEO, Mahindra Racing
What a race! My heart was beating so fast it almost popped out of my chest. We're very happy. The podium has eluded us so far this year, but now it has come in the fifth race, the earliest top-three we have achieved in a season. Pecco showed his potential, and also proved that the Mahindra MGP3O has race-winning pace. This will drive us on to work even harder. I hope we can get our hands on that elusive first grand prix win as soon as possible.