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Matsuyama takes stunning first podium in Valencia, Aji in the top five

9 May 2021

The Japanese rider takes second place and his first rostrum as Aji takes more top finishes in Round 2 of the FIM CEV Repsol

Takuma Matsuyama is now a podium finisher! After getting close first time out, Race 1 at the Circuit Ricarco Tormo in Valencia saw the Japanese rider stalk his way back into contention and then fight for the win right to the line, ultimately coming home second by just hundredths for his first ever FIM Moto3™ Junior World Championship podium. Teammate Mario Aji also impressed on Sunday, taking two more top finishes, one of which was another top five.

In Race 1, Matsuyama got a great start from the second row to fight in the top three from the off, although the Japanese rider soon had the hurdle of his Long Lap Penalty, given on Saturday, to overcome. Heading in soon after it was called, he made short work of it and slotted back into the pack to make up the lost ground.

After some drama in the mid top ten, Matsuyama had kept his head down and was heading the group chasing down the top three. By a handful of laps to go, he’d bridged the gap and two trios fighting for position had become a group of six fighting for the win. The Japanese rider was leading the final lap right until an attack at the final corner, keeping it pinned for the drag to the line but ultimately finishing just 0.076 off the win for his first ever FIM Moto3™ JWCh podium in second.

Race 2 was a similar story after a Red Flag and restart, but it was a tougher getaway for the number 32 that created some ground to make up. Once into clear air in fifth place Matsuyama was taking chunks of time off the leading group ahead, but then sadly crashed out of contention and was denied the chance to try and make it two podiums from two.

Mario Aji, meanwhile, had a solid first race as the Indonesian managed to move from outside the points at the end of Lap 1 to well inside the top ten. Keeping that momentum rolling, the number 16 came home in P8 as part of a stunning photo finish fight for seventh, denied by just 0.029.

In Race 2, Aji was a key presence once again and fought his way to the front of the second group. With four riders escaped at the front it was initially a battle for fifth before drama in the podium fight made it a battle for fourth, and Aji showed some great speed and racecraft once again to fight it out to the flag, ultimately taking fifth and his second top five in three races.

Tatchakorn Buasri and Eddie O’Shea both suffered difficult Sundays. The Thai rider crashed early in Race 1 at Turn 2, and sadly didn’t make the start of Race 2 after suffering a small fracture of the head of the right humerus. O’Shea, who crashed in the first race of the day early on, was denied the chance to line up in the afternoon as well as the Brit sustained a small left scapula fracture.

That’s it from race day. Matsuyama will now head from the podium at Valencia for the Moto3™ World Championship and a wildcard at Le Mans. Watch how he gets on on his Grand Prix debut next weekend, before the FIM CEV Repsol sees the JTT return to action at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in June.