Moto2 European Championship
European Talent Cup
Stock European Championship:
Senna Agius and Daniel Muñoz take the title!
The 2023 Moto2 European Championship, European Talent Cup and Stock European Championship were underway with the penultimate round of the season at the iconic MotorLand Aragon circuit in Spain.
In the Moto2™ European Championship it was Senna Agius who flew to a mighty double, becoming the first Australian Champion in the class. In the European Talent Cup the title race is still on despite Maximo Quiles’ double. In the Stock European Championship Eric Fernandez beat Daniel Muñoz in a final lap belter, although 17-year-old Muñoz is the 2023 Champion.
Senna Agius went from pole to lead all of Race 1 although he was under early pressure from a fast-starting Yeray Ruiz, who jumped the start and only got to serve one of two Long Lap Penalties before falling at Turn 2; thankfully, he was OK. Agius’ title rival Xavier Cardelus couldn’t replicate his strong pace from before, finishing P6. Ahead of the Andorran, the battle for the podium was unchained: teammates Roberto Garcia and Borja Gomez pipped Barcelona race winner Unai Orradre.
In Race 2, Agius didn’t have it all his own way and the 18-year-old Australian had to deal with Alberto Surra for the first two thirds of action. Surra was pushing hard and trying to ruffle the Championship leader’s feathers but soon enough, Agius got ahead of the #67 to take another victory and with it, the title in 2023. A historic achievement with it being the first title for Australia in the class and once again, the class proves itself as a true stepping stone to the Moto2™ World Championship, with Agius moving up to the big time in 2024. Completing the podium in Race 2 was Borja Gomez, who took the second podium of the day just a few hours after the first of his career. An honourable mention to Alberto Ferrandez, who moved into the class for the first time this weekend and dazzled with a P5 and P4.
Race 1 was a gloves off battle, like always in ETC but ultimately, Quiles took honours with a perfectly-timed move to the lead, having been at the front for so long earlier in the race. He overcame a Long Lap Penalty to beat title rival Uriarte and Jesus Rios, the latter taking a first podium in ETC. Also in the race-long battle, Ruche Moodley came from 20th on the grid to lead but retired on the final lap, with Rico Salmela and Pini completing Race 1’s top five.
In the second duel, action was fiercer as Quiles tried to stretch the pack from pole but Pini was wise to this, knowing that with a 23-point deficit, he couldn’t afford to finish behind the 2021 Champion. The Italian hit the front in the early stages and immediately slowed the pace down, at times two seconds slower than the immediate opening laps. This allowed the pack to close up and a massive battle soon erupted, although it’d be over for Belgian Lorenz Toni Luciano, who crashed at Turn 4. Rios once again starred, along with Uriarte, Salmela, Dodo Boggio, Moodley and his teammate Leonardo Zanni. In the last two laps, Quiles broke free after contact for Pini and Uriarte on the front straight, making it a double win. Rios took a career-best P2 with Pini third, now out of the title fight. Uriarte’s fourth means he’s the only rider who can stop Quiles in Valencia from becoming the first double ETC Champion, albeit with an 18-point disadvantage.
The initial staging was red-flagged for an incident involving Kike Ferrer at Turn 7. A six-lap restart was now on the billing, with a podium enough for Daniel Muñoz to be crowned Champion. However, Eric Fernandez was keen to lead and slow the race pace down, mirroring Pini’s attempts in ETC. He took over at the head of the field and the gap back to third place and Dino Iozzo went from 2.3s to just 0.5s. Desperate not to end up locked in a battle, Muñoz hit the front in the last two laps but Fernandez was resilient; the two pulled away again and after contact on the penultimate lap at the final turn, it was a head-to-head thriller. Side-by-side into Turn 16, Muñoz got there first but ran wide, allowing Fernandez to take a second win of 2023 but it wasn’t enough; Muñoz is the 2023 Champion with a round to spare, whilst Iozzo finished third.