Podium for Niccolo Antonelli in the rain in Japan


Red Bull KTM Ajo rider gets first podium of the season thanks to a hard-fought second position. Bo Bendsneyder is ninth amidst heavy rain.

The hard work done by Niccolo Antonelli and his team throughout the year was rewarded with a first podium of the season this Sunday at Twin Ring Motegi. In a race reduced to just 13 laps and held under an intense rain, Antonelli remained calm and was amongst the Top 3 at all times, eventually crossing the line in second place. Bo Bendsneyder returned to the Top 10 and completed the race in ninth.

From second on the starting grid, Niccolo Antonelli made a great start and took the lead on the first sector. The Italian was out in front for the first two laps in a strong start, before upping his pace and holding second place. With those behind him unable to catch him, he took the chequered flag in the podium spots for the first time this year.

Teammate Bo Bendsneyder had a great performance on a track in the worst condition of the weekend. The Dutchman was part of a second large group of eight riders in the fight for sixth position. In the end, with ninth place, he claimed his fifth Top 10 of the season.

After this great start to the flyaway rounds, Bo Bendsneyder is fourteenth in the overall standings with 55 points. Niccolo Antonelli climbs to seventeenth position, with 36. The next race will take place next week at the Australian circuit of Phillip Island.

Aki Ajo – Team Manager
“I am very happy to have achieved this podium in Moto3, because this year is a very tough one for us in the lower cylinder class. We had already seen that we were improving and taking steps forward over the last few races, which was good for our confidence and motivation. I’m sure Niccolo [Antonelli] and Bo [Bendsneyder] are ready to fight for the top positions at the final races.”

Results (Race)
1. Romano Fenati (Honda) 29:22.278
2. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) +4.146
3. Marco Bezzecchi (Mahindra) +5.013
4. Tatsuki Suzuki (Honda) +8.767
5. Aron Canet (Honda) +12.827
9. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) +15.947

Moto3 World Championship Standing 2017
1. Joan Mir (Honda) 271 points
2. Romano Fenati (Honda) 216 points
3. Aron Canet (Honda) 184 points
4. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Honda) 146 points
5. Jorge Martin (Honda) 135 points
14. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 55 points
17. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 36 points

“It’s amazing to have placed on the podium this Sunday in Japan. I knew we could go fast in the wet at this circuit, because we have improved a lot, but I didn’t expect it. We have had difficulties in rainy conditions this year, although here I have had a good feeling. In the race I tried to catch Romano [Fenati], since I had nothing to lose, but the bike was skidding a lot and it was impossible to get to him. In the end, finishing second is like a win for me and a prize for the whole team, whom I want to thank for their work.”

“It wasn’t at all bad, especially bearing in mind that today it rained more than ever and the conditions were the worst that we’ve encountered. Finishing inside the Top 10, after a difficult weekend in which we weren’t in these positions during practice, is positive. I’m happy with the result and keen to improve on it in the coming races. It’s been a good weekend for the team. Niccolo [Antonelli] took a podium an I’m sure that it will motivate the entire group. I’m keen to ride in Australia.”