Emotions Run High At Austrian 2018 Moto3 Race

Belief, unbelief, and disbelief personified on the podium at the Red Bull Ring Austria

Marco Bezzecchi
Marco Bezzecchi on the grid ahead of the 2018 Moto3 race in Austria.MotoGP.com

If life imitates art, art imitates racing. The 2018 Moto3 race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria had the emotional range of the greatest works of man’s invention. There was triumph and heartbreak, unlikely odds overcome, and seemingly cruel injustice. The best racing promises unpredictability. At the mercy of fate, riders flourish or falter. They cloak themselves in unalloyed self-confidence or seeping self-doubt. One of the pleasures of the junior classes of grand prix racing is to witness the brazen acts of youth and the hardly contained emotions that often get the better of them. Daring passes fueled by desperation are the currency to pay for potential greatness. Every race showcases maneuvers where, as Casey Stoner once said of Valentino Rossi (just imagine!), “Ambition outweighs talent.” For young men ranging from their teens to early 20s, the emotions of racing are not subdued. To see their exuberant victory celebrations and their disappointment-wracked figures crumple as their hopes are dashed in defeat confirms one of racing’s greatest merits. It exposes humanity for what it is: hopeful, strong, defiant, afflicted. Emotions are manifested in degrees of self-doubt or self-belief. When the checkered flag flew at the at the Red Bull Ring, the young men atop the podium personified belief, unbelief, and disbelief.

First Place: Marco Bezzecchi And Belief

Marco Bezzecchi Moto3 podium
Bezzecchi was elated after his second career victory.MotoGP.com

Marco Bezzecchi is an underdog. After putting it on pole for the first time, Bezzecchi had an imperious victory Sunday against the competition, practically leading from flag to flag. He’ll go into the next round at Silverstone with a 12-point lead over rival Jorge Martin. Going into the start of the 2018 season, Martin was the strong favorite, having shown his potential with nine poles and a race win in 2017. Bezzecchi flew under the radar, his early success in 2018 initially attributed to good fortune. Midway through the season, the 19-year-old rider from Rimini on the Adriatic coast of Italy has proven himself. After failing to capitalize on Martin’s absence in Brno, Bezzecchi needed a result. His victory—his second of the season—sealed his identity as a legitimate contender. Atop the podium he embodied belief.

Second Place: Enea Bastianini And Unbelief

Enea Bastianini
Enea Bastianini cooly confident on the grid.MotoGP.com

After qualifying ninth and blowing the start, Enea Bastianini found himself in 16th place. A methodical rise through the pack, however, saw the 20-year-old (also from Rimini) enter the top five with 13 laps to go and a 2.3-second gap to overcome. In the final handful of laps, Bestia (“The Beast”) pulled the pin. On the final lap, he was lapping 0.6 second faster than Bezzecchi out front. Passing Martin and Jaume Masiá on the final lap, Bestia came from practically nowhere to throw a spanner in the works and finish in second. It was an unbelievable performance. If he believed he could stick it on the box during the first part of the race, he was the only one.

Third Place: Jorge Martin And Disbelief

Jorge Martin
Jorge Martin on the podium. Who among us would want to put a motorcycle glove on with a fresh surgical wound? Check out Martin’s Twitter feed for images.MotoGP.com

After victory at Assen gave him a two-point lead over Bezzecchi in the championship, Jorge Martin came to Brno with all the confidence in the world, only to crash and break his wrist during FP1. A mere nine days later, when most people would be on the couch binge-watching Netflix, Martin came to Austria and qualified second. He was strong all race long, only to succumb to a charging Bastianini. At the final corner on the last lap, following in Bastianini’s wake, he chucked it up the inside of Masiá, pushing the 17-year-old Spaniard wide. Masiá went from second to sixth in the blink of an eye. Martin got on the podium. With a broken wrist. In parc ferme, team boss Fausto Gresini had to remove Martin’s helmet for him, as his injury prevented him from doing it himself. Martin immediately put on sunglasses to conceal the tears of joy and disbelief. He was overcome with emotion during the post-race interview with Simon Crafar. Martin’s was the best kind of disbelief.

Sixth Place: Jaume Masiá And The Bad Kind Of Disbelief

Jaume Masiá racing
Jaume Masiá at speed before he took the wrong line of fate.MotoGP.com

Martin and Bastianini’s podium triumphs came at the expense of Jaume Masiá. With the finish line in sight, Masiá’s last-corner scourge would be for him the worst kind of disbelief. Denied his first podium, a crestfallen and teary-eyed Masiá shook his head in disbelief as he watched his competitors celebrate in the Austrian sun. Masiá rode an exceptional race, hanging in there with the championship favorites lap after lap. If he’s allowed self-doubt to creep in, he should banish the thought. He finished in sixth but he earned a podium. No doubt the Spanish teenager will acutely feel the cruel injustice of the defeat. It will only make him stronger.

This is why we race.