The rain forecasted for Sunday came even earlier than predicted, the track truly soaked by the time the lightweight class lined up at the lights. With the drizzle having stopped, the drying track made for a tricky ride for the Moto3 bunch, who ended up riding more sensibly than you would expect.
Joan Mir might have looked like he was protecting his lead in the championship but his eyes were on victory all along. And the plan was timed to perfection, the Spaniard snatching his sixth victory of the season, ahead of a mighty challenge from Romano Fenati and a brilliant comeback from Aron Canet.
That didn’t look like the likely podium configuration for much of the race though. It was a good start for the RBA Racing duo, poleman Gabriel Rodrigo and Juanfran Guevara exchanging the lead on the first lap. On a wet track, Guevara managed to keep the lead and even build a bit of a gap over the pack led by Bendsneyder. The Dutch rider caught up with him and went for it on lap three, the Red Bull rider taking over the lead and holding it for three laps before the Spaniard took his turn at the front again. Despite not being your usual race leaders, the two rode sensibly on a drying track.
Behind them, Mir kept within reach of the two leaders while Nakarin Atiratphuvapat took on the job of leading the pursuers. The one and a half second gap turned into three tenths by lap four, Marcos Ramirez the only rider able to keep up with him. The Thai rider caught the championship leader one lap later and went in pursuit of a podium position, Bendsneyder and Guevara a second ahead at the time.
With the mission appearing to stall, Mir got back in charge as Fenati, Ramirez and Rodrigo caught up with them. The top candidates for the final podium spot looked like championship rivals Mir and Fenati, although the group had six other protagonists halfway through the race. A handful of laps later, Mir and Fenati ditched their chasing colleagues and joined Guevara and Bendsneyder at the front.
Fenati finally took the lead at the end of lap 13, leaving Mir as the only protagonist not to give it a go for glory. The Spaniard bided his time at the tail end of the group until taking over the reins with four laps to go.
In only half a lap, the championship leader put half a second into the chasing trio and Fenati’s alarm bells started ringing. The Italian got the best of his two remaining rivals and chased down Mir soon after, the two leaders trading fastest laps with two laps to go. With mere hundredths of a second separating Mir and Fenati, both firing in red hot sector times, the Italian never even got a chance to attack, crossing the line close behind the world championship leader.
If Guevara and Bendsneyder thought the final podium spot was rightfully theirs, Aron Canet had a different plan. Canet struggled to kick-start his comeback, lingering in twentieth place after he got caught up in an incident with Jules Danilo and Maria Herrera on the first lap. The Spaniard was one of the fastest people on track soon after but the gaps ahead of him made it a nearly impossible mission to get any higher than twelfth. But the Spaniard gave his best to steadily reduce a four-second gap to one and a half seconds by lap ten, knocking on the gates of the top ten. By lap fourteen, the Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider got in the lead of the chasing pack, with a three-second gap to the four leaders. Hardly intimidated by that, the young rider hunted down Bendsneyder and Guevara and snatched their third position on the final lap, dropping them over a second behind.
Bendsneyder had to settle for fourth place, with Guevara fifth. John McPhee’s journey from nineteenth on the grid to sixth in the race might have been even more impressive had it not been for Canet’s adventures, the British rider leading Ramirez over the line.
The remaining top ten positions went to some wet weather enthusiasts, Tatsuki Suzuki eighth, Adam Norrodin ninth and Nakarin Atiratphuvapat tenth.
Another talking point was the impressive wildcard Tim Georgi, who started 28th, made up ten places on the first two laps, was tenth by lap three and right on the tail of the chasing group by lap eight. But the drying surface was a bit much for the German rider to cope with, his early charge fading and the wildcard rider dropping back to eighteenth place.
Nicolo Bulega might have looked just fine in wet practice but the Italian had a nightmare in the race, dropping back significantly at the start, as low as sixteenth by the end of lap one and ending the race twenty-third. Poleman Rodrigo looked set for a top ten but crashed on the very last lap.
Mir’s victory extended his already significant lead in the world championship, the Spaniard now 42 points ahead of Fenati. Canet keeps third place in the standings, 64 points behind the leader. With Jorge Martin sitting out the race due to injury, McPhee makes the jump into fourth, a substantial 97 points away from Mir.
|19||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Mahindra||+20.312|
|21||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||+23.935|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|95||Jules DANILO||Honda||0 Lap|
|6||Maria HERRERA||KTM||0 Lap|