Twilight in Doha was a pretty backdrop for a pretty magical Moto3 show and it also went to prove that any penalties race direction throw at the lightweight class, it ultimately means nothing if your name is Pedro Acosta. The brilliant rookie put on a show that will be hard to beat as he made his way from a pitlane start to the top of the podium in only his second race in the world championship. Acosta superbly defended his maiden victory from Darryn Binder, who makes it back to back podiums in Qatar, while Niccolo Antonelli makes a well-deserved and long awaited return to the podium in third place.
18 crazy laps before that, it was Gabriel Rodrigo who stole the show at the start of the race, to lead into turn one from Tatsuki Suzuki, Binder and poleman Jaume Masia. The Argentine rider only held onto the lead for mere meters because Binder flew past, while teammate John McPhee had dropped down to 14th by the end of lap one. The dreaded slipstream along the start-finish straight once again saw all the action at the front, with several riders trading places over the next few laps and seeing the likes of Kaito Toba, Binder, Filip Salac, Suzuki and Rodrigo all holding the lead for short bursts by lap five. In preparation for his upcoming double long lap penalty, rookie Xavier Artigas swiftly joined the top four, having started 16th on the grid and dropped to the back of the leading pack in 21st spot after serving the penalty. Meanwhile, the pitlane start group led by Acosta had over seven seconds to recover on Artigas ahead. Acosta, together with Sergio Garcia, Stefano Nepa and Romano Fenati managed not to push each other’s buttons for long enough to drop that gap to four seconds by lap 6.
Back at the front, the same familiar names were battling for the lead, Andrea Migno adding to the growing list of frontrunners on lap 7 and the frequent exchanges at the front allowed the chasers to get closer to the 19-man lead group. Binder reclaimed the lead at the start of lap 9, ahead of Salac, Rodrigo, Migno, Toba, Masia and McPhee, who finally broke into the top ten.
Salac started the second half of the race at the front of the pack but on every new lap riders magically found room to go seven or eight abreast into turn 1 and that inevitably saw a few of them lose the turn 1 roulette and getting pushed wide to the back of the group, having to work their way back through. All that messiness helped the pursuing pack and it was almost surprising that it took until 7 laps to go for someone to bite the dust, Artigas getting nudged out at turn six. Salac was next to drop off one lap later, while Toba and Migno traded places at the front and the pitlane boys had joined the fun at the back of the group and were claiming minor points already.
McPhee picked up the lead with four laps remaining but did not last long there, as he got wiped out once again by Jeremy Alcoba’s accident. Masia saw an opportunity to claim the lead and try to get away from the risky shenanigans in the group, but the Spaniard only gained about three tenths of a second’s gap before the group arrived at turn 1 and Rodrigo demoted him once more. Meanwhile, Acosta was making quick progress through the group and pushed back Binder to join the top three. The pitlane starter found himself starting the final lap at the front of the pack and being hunted down by Binder, Migno, Masia, Rodrigo and big bunch of other riders.
The rookie pushed even harder and stretched just enough of a gap over the final lap to almost miraculously hold onto victory by three hundredths of a second from a charging Binder. Niccolo Antonelli grabbed the final podium spot from compatriot Migno, while Toba completed the top five. Despite a heavy crash in warm up, rookie Izan Guevara did great to secure sixth place ahead of Ayumu Sasaki and Ryusei Yamanaka. Things got chaotic for Masia on the final lap, when contact with Rodrigo at turn 10 left the Spaniard ninth, with Fenati completing the top ten and Rodrigo dropping to 13th position. Acosta returns to Europe as world championship leader nine points ahead of Binder, while Masia drops to third, 13 points down on his teammate.
|22||19||Andi Farid Izdihar||Honda||+25.872|
|17||John Mcphee||Honda||4 Laps|
|52||Jeremy Alcoba||Honda||4 Laps|
|31||Adrian Fernandez||Husqvarna||4 Laps|
|12||Filip Salac||Honda||6 Laps|
|43||Xavier Artigas||Honda||7 Laps|