With an unprecedented year causing disruption to the MotoGP season, the MotoBatt sponsored Red Bull KTM Ajo Team sign off with a stunning win in Moto 3 and a top 6 placing in the Moto 2 championship
The Red Bull KTM Ajo team headed to the last round of the 2020 Moto2 and Moto3 World Championship in Portimão in good spirits. Moto 2 rider Jorge Martin came into the season finale highly motivated after taking the win at the Valencia Grand Prix, where his last-lap overtake earned him a second victory of the year.
Before the race, Martin commented, “I’m really looking forward to the Portuguese Grand Prix. It will be my last race with the team and I want to bring them a good result to thank them for these two years together. We have done an incredible job this season and we have always given one hundred percent, and this is what I will take away from this campaign. I have never ridden at Portimão, so it will be a beautiful event. We have to be skilful to adapt quickly and well to the track.”
Martin was sitting in fifth position in the Moto2 World Championship heading into the final round with a tally of 150 points.
Martin’s teammate, Tetsuta Nagashima also had a strong showing at Valencia, climbing 11 positions to finish 12th overall. And with a strong knowledge of the Portuguese circuit, he was looking for a good showing at the finale.
In Moto3, the MotoBatt sponsored team aimed to round off the 2020 season with good results, having been on the podium at the last four rounds.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 riders, Raul Fernandez and Kaito Toba, came into the last round of the year with extra motivation, as they know the track from their time in the FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship.
At the previous Grand Prix, Fernandez claimed a hard-fought third place, having set the pace during the contest. He was on the rostrum three times at the last four events, and he has fond memories of Portimão, where in 2016 he got his first podium in the FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship by finishing third at Portimão. Fernandez headed to the finale in sixth position in the overall standings, with 134 points.
Toba arrived at the final round wanting to make amends for the previous weekend, where he crashed out in second place. Toba had raced at the Algarve International Circuit in 2015 and 2016 in the FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship, finishing in the points on both occasions.
Class: Moto 2
Rider: Jorge Martin
Race Result: 6th
Championship standing: 5th
The Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 rider concluded 2020 with a 6th position at the last round of the year.
Martin made a great start from the second row of the grid, slotting into third on the first corner. The Spaniard was involved in an early fight with other riders in the chasing group, contesting second place. The pack broke up midway through the race, and the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 talent remained in the battle for the Top 4. With 10 laps to go, a scare that saw him nearly crash meant that he lost ground, but he would then regroup with his fastest lap of the contest. Martin eventually concluded the round in sixth, ending a year in which he took two victories and further four podiums.
Martin commented after the race, “I’m happy with the race we had. It was a shame that it was tough for me to overtake today, but I’m satisfied to complete a great weekend. I want to thank the team for these two years together, because I have always felt very well supported. Thanks to them, I have grown as a rider and as a person. I hope they do well in the future!”
Class: Moto 2
Rider: Tetsuta Nagashima
Race Result: 14th
Championship standing: 8th
Tetsuta Nagashima had a good start to the race and finished the final contest in 14th position. Starting from the fourth row of the grid, in 10th position, he pushed hard from the beginning to climb up to seventh place. The Japanese rider joined up with the chasing group but was left behind by them past the middle phase of the race. The Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 rider would take the chequered flag 14th.
Nagashima commented after the race, “I’m not satisfied with the race, because after a highside I felt pain in my shoulders, and I wasn’t able to push very hard again. However, that’s racing, and these things can happen. I want to thank the team for this season together. I was hoping for a slightly better result to end the year, but it was a bit tough. The important thing is that we never gave up and gave our 100%.”
Aki Ajo – Team manager
“We have to be happy with how we have ended the season in Moto2. It was a good race with both riders in the points, and with Jorge [Martin] in the Top 6. He had the pace to be higher up the order, but today it was hard for him to overtake, which made his Sunday more tough. Our 2020 has seen many ups and downs. The start of the campaign was very good for Tetsuta Nagashima, but in the final part we couldn’t find that same feeling. As for Jorge, unfortunately, we had that enforced break due to his health situation. In any case, we achieved great results and it was a good time for our sponsors especially Red Bull, KTM and all our staff.”
Class: Moto 3
Rider: Raul Fernandez
Race Result: 1st
Championship standing: 4th
Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 and Raul Fernandez capped an excellent second part of the season with a win at the Portuguese Grand Prix, the final round of the year. The Spanish rider dominating from start to finish and taking the chequered flag more than 5 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. The 20-year-old talent thus closes 2020 with two victories and a further two podiums to his name, all of them achieved in the last five rounds.
For the sixth time this season, Raul Fernandez started from the pole position, and he held the holeshot when the lights went out. Half a second ahead of the rest of the field, the Spaniard began a breakaway on Lap 2 that proved definitive, eventually coming home with a lead of 5.8 seconds. The Red Bull KTM Ajo talent will move up to the Moto2 class next year with the team, off the back of his second victory of the 2020 campaign and of his Grand Prix career.
Commenting after the race, Fernandez was ecstatic with the result. “There could not have been a better ending. We took the victory and I’m very happy. I felt that I was part of a family rather than a team this year, and this has helped me a lot after a tough 2019. If we had had two more races, then we would have been able to fight for the title. However, now is not the time to think about that, but instead to enjoy the great work we did. We showed that we were the strongest competitors in the final stretch of 2020. It has been a year for learning that started out difficult and ended with a lot of joy.
I have no words to thank all the people who never stopped believing in me. We are saying goodbye to the class in style, and now we move on to a new challenge.”
Class: Moto 3
Rider: Kaito Toba
Race Result: 15th
Championship standing: 18th
Kaito Toba took off from the sixth row of the grid and had a tough start as he dropped down to 20th by the end of Lap 1. However, the Japanese managed to fight back, chasing down, and overtaking other competitors progressively. The Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 rider finished the Portuguese Grand Prix in 15th position, earning points from a solid race that rounded off the year.
Toba explained after the race, “It wasn’t a perfect Sunday, but we can take away some positives from this round and, in general, from the season. I’m not entirely satisfied with how the year ended, but I will take everything I learned during 2020 and apply it next campaign. It was a tough contest: at the beginning, I made a mistake and I lacked the confidence to push hard, but in the middle of the race my feeling improved and my pace was strong too – which was good.
Following the last Grand Prix, I can only say that I’m happy to have been part of this team. It has been a great experience and I thank everyone.”
Aki Ajo – Team manager
“It was a very good way to end the Moto3 season, with a victory today. We are impressed with the performance by Raul [Fernandez]. We didn’t think that we could have a race like this in this class, with such an advantage over the rest of the field. However, he showed his talent and the steps forward he has taken during the year. He is ready to be in Moto2 class. As for Kaito Toba, he finished the campaign in the points, which is positive. We are grateful for the moments he gave us, such as the podium in Aragon. I am sure there will be great progress within the KTM family.”
Looking Forward to 2021
MotoBatt continues their successful partnership with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team for a successive season, looking for better results in whatwill hopefully be a full season of racing.
With Aussie racer Remy Gardner, winner of the Portimao Moto2 race, joining the Red Bull KTM Ajo team for the 2021 MotoGP season, CEO of MotoBatt, Manfred Chong is excited to be sponsoring the Ajo team once again, which he sees as a perfect fit for the MotoBatt brand.
Manfred explains, “I chose the Ajo team as because they are a reputable and well-organised racing team in Moto2 and Moto3 whose philosophy of hard work and innovation matches the ethos at MotoBatt. They also have an exceptional track record, and when I was researching which team to support for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, I was excited to partner with Mr Aki Ajo as I trust and respect what he has achieved in this top level of motorsport.”
The Red Bull KTM Ajo team debuted in 2001, taking their first victory in 2003 and developing multiple riders who have continued on to achieve significant MotoGP success. With names like Mike Di Meglio, Marc Marquez, Sandro Cortese, Brad Binder and Johann Zarco all riding for the Ajo team, they have succeeded in recording six rider’s championships (2 x Moto2 / 2 x Moto3 / 2 x 125cc).
Already renowned for his all-out riding style and dedication, Gardner now joins Aki Ajo’s knowledgeable and proven set-up, and under the watchful gaze of the KTM GP Academy that has promoted two riders to the MotoGP structure in the last two seasons. Aki Ajo has overseen two Moto2 world championship title and two runner-up distinctions in the last six years; helping in the development of current Red Bull KTM racers Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder.
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