Three unquestionable talents in their own rights. Luis Salom, Maverick Viñales and Alex Rins have ensured an extremely closely-fought Moto3 title battle in 2013. Curiously, each one will have arrived at next weekend’s Valencia title-decider in their own imitable way.
Something that happens rarely in the World Championship. Three riders, three completely different styles and three different methods of overcoming adversity. So it’s three riders, five points between them and one race to go.
They do share one thing in common: the all-conquering KTM motorcycle. However their teams are very much independent of each other (Red Bull KTM Ajo for Salom, Team Calvo for Viñales and Estrella Galicia 0,0 in the case of Rins). All the more thrilling, then, that they will arrive at the Ricardo Tormo circuit so closely locked together in the standings.
Perhaps the only parallel in the lightweight class, since the World Championship began in 1949, is the 125 battle of 1990 in which Stefan Prein, Loris Capirossi and Hans Spaan headed into the Phillip Island decider covered by nine points.
Let us start with Luis Salom. Not the best qualifier, despite four pole positions and a total of eight front row starts. However, he has been nothing short of lethal in the closing stages of races, resulting in a total of seven Grand Prix victories and a further four podium finishes. His absolute strong point is tactics, often holding back until the very optimum moment before either pulling out a late-race lead or grabbing the top spot at the very last possible but most crucial moment, making the most of almost five years’ experience in the World Championship. Assen was a classic example.
Having come of age, Maverick Viñales was the general favorite heading into the campaign. His consistency has been nothing short of unbelievable: off the rostrum on only two occasions this season – and even then he finished either fourth or fifth and only fractions behind third place. Impressive steadiness in anybody’s book, not least bearing in mind he lost part of a finger in an untimely pre-season testing crash.
Throughout the season, Rins has demonstrated flashes of pure brilliance as well as reminders that things can go so wrong at any moment. On the one hand, he can boast six race wins and a further seven podiums. On the other, three distinct blots on the copybook: a costly shunt in Jerez, a quarrel with teammate Alex Marquez at Brno and what could prove to be a decisive crash out of third place at Motegi, despite knowing Salom was already out of the race. Tremendously quick on Saturdays, he has seven poles to his name but has thrown away some chances. Then again, what more can you ask for from a 17-year-old?
May the best man win…
Salom, Viñales and Rins: experience, consistency and sparkle. In Valencia, all three will forget the journey so far as – a few small technicalities aside – it all comes down to a single race. Whoever comes out on top will become a worthy 2013 Moto3 World Champion. May the best man win…