Italy’s classic track of Imola was hotter than ever on Saturday morning, making the technical layout and boiling track temperatures a daunting prospect for the young riders that make up the R3 Championship.
Mahendra made a strong start in Race 1 and managed to dominate the pace from the early stages of the race, with a chasing pack of six eager riders trying hard to keep up. Championship leader and 2022 SuperFinale winner Emiliano Ercolani tried to stick to his plan of starting off calm and pushing in the latter half of the race, but the Italian suffered a crash on the curbs after shooting into second place with four laps to go. While the pack battled for positions, Mahendra kept his head down to build a phenomenal lead, crossing the line seven seconds ahead of his nearest rival. Krittapat Keankum finished in a hard-fought second place, while Kevin Fontainha completed the podium.
In Race 2 the gaps were smaller and the result much harder to call until the final flag, but Mahendra once again got off to a flying start. Marc Vich and Ercolani gave chase, and were joined in the lead group by Keankum and Eduardo Burr. Despite the best efforts of the leading group of seven, they eventually had to surrender to Mahendra’s dominating pace as the Indonesian star extended the gap to two seconds in the closing laps. Ercolani, who worked his way through the field, finish second while Keankum was third. With this double victory, Mahendra moves to second in the title chase and closes the deficit to just 16 points ahead of the final round.