Monday, November 14, 2016

Moto 3

While I'm obsessed with vintage bikes, I also follow modern racing.  And while it was a great year in the MotoGP class, I very much enjoy the Moto 3 class, too.  One Moto 3 rider that has fascinated me this year is the Malaysian Khairul Idam Pawi.  He came on to my radar when he won the 2nd race of this season in Argentina by 26.17 seconds!  No one wins in the intensely competitive Moto 3 class by that kind of margin, let alone a rookie.
Pawi raced in only one Moto 3 race last year, in Aragon for some reason, and finished an unspectacular 25th.  Then in the pre season tests, he was 27th fastest of 33 at Valencia and 20th fastest of 33 at Qatar.  In the race a Qatar, he finished  22nd, 17.608 seconds behind the winner.  Then, in the next race he won by over 26 seconds.  It was wet and he used the same tires as everyone else.  When he got into a sizable lead, his team tried to slow him down, but he kept stretching his lead, just about crashing every lap.  I wondered if he was the Next Big Thing or if he was a wet weather specialist.
The next race was COTA in Austin, Tx., and Pawi finished 20th, 48.107 seconds behind the winner.  This led me to think that Argentina was just a very weird fluke.  Pawi was 14th in the next two races, credible for a rookie in such a competitive class, but not The Next Big Thing.
Pawi crashed out in the next three races, while in 5th one lap from the end at Mugello, while 7th at Catalunya after he had led, and on the 1st lap at Assen.  So, maybe he was a 'win it or bin it' type, except by now he also had four lackluster finishes.
At Sachsenring, Pawi won again, this time by 11.131 seconds, still a huge margin in Moto 3.  Again it was wet.  The next race in Austria he finished 27th, 40.361 seconds behind the winner.  What's up with this guy?
At Brno, he crashed out while in 3rd.  This was the 3rd wet Moto 3 race of the season and John McPhee won the race by the next biggest margin of the year, 8.806 seconds.  So, it does seem that a wet track does increase the chance of an otherwise mid pack rider winning and at a bigger margin and perhaps the Championship contenders are more conservative, having more to loose.
Silverstone: 22nd
San Marino: 22nd
Some of Pawi's unimpressive performances could be attributed to him being a rookie and presumably never having been to these circuits before.  But, at Aragon where he had raced as a wildcard in 2015, he was again 22nd.
At Phillip Island, Pawi crashed out on the first lap in a multi bike incident and it wasn't clear to me who was at fault.
At Sepang in Malaysia, at a track he presumably had raced before (and maybe many times), he finished 8th and scored his last points of the season.
In the final race of the season at Valencia, Pawi finished 25th.
The average margin of victory of all the Moto 3 races of 2016 was 3.926 second and the average margin of victory of all the Moto 3 races of 2016 that Pawi didn't win was less than half that, 1.854 seconds.  Bagnaia won the race at Sepang by 7.108 seconds.  Frenati won COTA by 6.612 seconds.  Brad Binder, who pretty much dominate the class and won his championship before the other two were decided, won at Phillip Island by 5.937 seconds (after he had cinched the Championship and had little to loose).  Pawi won his two races by over 26 and over 11 seconds.  He's easily the most up and down racer I've been aware of this season.
Pawi, along with Binder, Navaro, Bagnaia,and Quartararo (all of whom finished the 2016 Moto 3 championship higher than Pawi) moves to Moto 2 next season and it will be interesting to see how he does.  Danny Kent, who won the Moto 3 Championship last year, moved to Moto 2 this year and finished the season in 22nd place, so there's is certainly no direct correlation.  I'll  be watching how Pawi develops.


  1. I noticed this guy as well. He wasn't overly flashy in riding style like some of the phenoms of recent history or the "win or bin" boys (at least in my uneducated observation) so I'm a bit surprised he's already been promoted to Moto2! The Moto3 class is really my favorite .....but I still miss the 125s and even moreso the 50/80cc screamers. I think I was born in the wrong era or the wrong continent at the very least! Carry on....

  2. the Argentina race was hard to believe. I would have loved watching Pawi get another year of Moto3 under his belt on top equipment. His dry riding gr may have come together. Hope his career doesn't disappear in Moto2.
    Thanks for the write ups Dave, always enjoyable.

  3. That should have read, 'his dry riding game'

  4. PAWI The inimitable Pawi A brief moment of utter brilliance followed by mediocre practices, qualifiers and racers. Although there was also a moment were he climbed up into the top ten before crashing. I'm not convinced that he's going to cut it in the the very deep end of the pool in Moto2 compared to Moto3. After all, the Moto3 bikes seem to be very consistant as a group with regard to performance and chassis as evidenced by the very large, tight groupings whereas certain Moto2 teams seem to find extra top speed and cornering speed in those bikes. Can Pawi find his way in Moto2? Did he have his brief moment in the sun already or is he capable of much more consistant and better results in Moto2? Time will tell although it often takes a 2nd year in Moto2 for some of the riders to get legs. The hurtles are huge. Does Pawi have the financial, physical and emotional tackle to survive and, more importantly, succeed? We've seen too many careers in this sport dashed to make any qualified predictions. Case in point, Marquez and Miller both moved up after highly successful Moto3 seasons only to leave us wondering about their overall skill sets. I hope the best for Pawi. But as I sit here in Las Vegas, I don't see myself running down to the sports betting bar and throwing money down on that man. Dave, should I float a marker for you at the casino?

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