Maria Herrera finishes MotoE season finale in the points
The Spanish rider Maria Herrera finished the double header in San Marino scoring points and concluded the 2021 season of MotoE World Cup on a high.
After the latest WorldSSP round at Magny-Cours, Maria Herrera was back in the MotoGP paddock, for the season finale of the 2021 MotoE World Cup. And the last weekend of the championship delivered.
Two races were scheduled for the final weekend - one on Saturday and one on Sunday - to conclude the third edition of the Cup. Spanish female rider Maria Herrera entered the season finale with no title ambitions, but she was able to score points after an unlucky race at Red Bull Ring a month ago.
The weather at Misano wasn't pleasant during the first day: the second practice sessions of every category on track were interrupted by either a river of rain water or were hampered by the cold temperatures.
Maria Herrera was 16th in the combined practice results. E-pole took place in a altered format: at Misano, it became a 15-minute session, with every rider having a maximum of five laps, including the in and out-laps.
Dominique Aegerter went fastest with a 1:43.700 - which was then beaten by Casadei and Zaccone. Eric Granado went out late and when Lukas Tulovic crashed, his first attempt was halted.
At the end of the session, it was Jordi Torres who clinched the provisional pole and returned to the pits after his five laps. Eric Granado went out again for his final chance, but the Brazilian was ultimately not faster than Torres and remained in P2. Maria Herrera qualified in 16th place.
The race distance was reduced from eight laps to seven laps.
A big crash happened just after a few corners - Zaccone crashed and Okubo, who couldn't slow down, rode over his legs. The race wasn't stopped and Zaccone was taken to the hospital with suspected fractures to the pelvis. The following morning, his team stated that the rider was discharged from the hospital with no serious injuries, but he won't take part in the second race due to rehabilitation.
Torres led the pack, followed by Casadei, Aegerter, and Granado. Maria Herrera retained P16. Aegerter initially moved into the lead, but Jordi Torres managed to get back ahead - before he made a mistake under braking and both Aegerter and Granado were quick to take advantage from it.
Maria Herrera gained two positions and moved up to P14.
Torres and Aegerter continued their close battle; the Swiss rider blocked the Spaniard and went wide. Torres almost hit his rival and also went wide, dropping down to P4. He would made it back to third by forcing Casadei off line.
Granado launched an attack at turn 16, but it was too optimistic and crashed, throwing away his podium position, as well as any chances for the championship win.
Torres made the most out of the chaos unfolding and won from Aegerter by a small margin across the finish line. Herrera was 13th and returned to the points.
“The start was quite good, but then two riders in front crashed, and I didn't see well. I think I was right to cut because otherwise, I would have fallen. I have come back from the last position to finish the thirteenth. I have dropped my training time by almost two seconds, thanks in part to the changes we have made for the race, which have helped us. I think tomorrow we can take another step and fight with the top 10 group ”.
On Sunday. Herrera started the race from P15 on the grid - and the race distance was back to the scheduled one.
Casadei took the lead at turn one - Torres couldn't attack as the Italian closed the door. At the same time, Aegerter managed to overtake Ferrari, who had a better start.
Torres moved into the lead and Aegerter finally managed to get ahead of Casadei in the attempt to hunt him. Yonny Hernandez crashed, promoting Herrera to 14th place. Also, her teammate received a long-lap penalty. Then, Tulovic crashed.
With two laps to go, Aegerter's gap to Torres was minimal: the battle for the win saw the two riders swapping positions at every corner. On the last lap, The Swiss launched his final attack - a risky one - he made it stick, but Torres couldn't see his rear wheel and crashed.
Aegerter crossed the line and was crowned champion - but only for five minutes. The stewards, after minutes of celebration, decided to hand him a 38 seconds penalty, which was supposed to be the estimated time loss for a ride-through penalty.
It was enough for Torres to secure his crown for a second time.
Aegerter congratulated and apologized to his rival, but did not agree with the stewards' decision.
Maria Herrera finished the last race of the 2021 season in 11th place, in yet another positive weekend for the Openbank Aspar Racing's rider. She ends the season with a personal best of ninth (Jerez), a tenth place finish (Le Mans) and two eleventh (Barcelona and Misano 2). She scored points in all but one race, to finish 15th in the overall standings.
"I thought the race would be a little better for us, but at the beginning, I was caught in a funnel in the first corners due to the starting position. I wanted to beat the group because I had a rhythm, but Perolari and I have been left off the hook. This season I have lacked the confidence I had in the first year. I want to thank the team for their work and support, which has always believed in me ”.
The MotoE World Cup will return in 2022, with a revisited schedule. Practice will be on Friday, as well as qualifying. Race 1 will take place on Saturday, while a second race is set to get underway on Sunday.
The MotoE qualifying will look like the MotoGP's one, featuring Q1 and Q2, instead of the E-Pole format.