This is Probably the Weirdest Thing to Ever Happen in Racing!

A pretty standard two-rider crash in the Moto3 race at the Circuit of the Americas produced one of the weirdest motorcycle racing moments of 2024

Stefano Nepa, Ivan Ortola, 2024 Moto3 Grand Prix of the Americas. - MotoGP/X

The Moto3 Grand Prix of the Americas produced one of the strangest motorcycle racing moments of the year over the weekend.

Unusually for a Moto3 GP, the race was dominated by one rider, as preseason title favourite David Alonso checked out early on and led every lap to take a lights-to-flag win after topping every lightweight-class session across the weekend.

But Alonso’s unusually dominant path to victory was not the strangest thing to happen during the uniquely short 14-lap Moto3 race at the Circuit of the Americas.

Ivan Ortola had won the Moto3 race in Texas in 2023 after almost high-siding himself in the second corner of the GP. It was his first race win, but the 2024 edition just never quite came together for him. In first practice, he was taken out by his teammate, then he blew qualifying and was only 14th-fastest, and then the race happened.

His terrible qualifying meant he was fighting back from lights-out, but Ortola’s gran remontada only lasted three-quarters-of-a-lap. 

Into the tightening turn 15, Ortola moved to the inside of Stefano Nepa, his teammate of the 2022 and 2023 seasons, but as he tried to edge ahead of the Italian he ran into the back of another rider, such is the nature of Moto3 pack racing. Ortola clipped, with his front wheel, the back wheel of IntactGP Husqvarna’s Collin Veijer, who throughout the race would be hit at least three times before crashing out himself in COTA’s first-sector esses. The result of the contact was a high-side for Ortola, while Nepa had nowhere to go and was taken down in the crash himself.

All of that is pretty straightforward Moto3 stuff. Teenager make a misjudgement, screws the race of another rider in the process. Standard.

Not quite, though, as Ortola got up from the crash before Nepa, and ran to get on what he thought was his bike. The Spaniard had spent two seasons alongside Nepa in the MTA team, which is running the same black, white, and pink livery this year as in the past two, and clearly Ortola, who this year is on the MT Helmets MSi squad, forgot he had switched teams over the winter. Only an intervention from a probably confused and angry Nepa prevented Ortola from riding off on the #82 KTM, rather than his own #48 machine.

When you think about it, it’s a wonder this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often, especially in the hectic, anxious, frenetic world of Moto3 racing.

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Lead image credit: MotoGP/X.