After the deluge of the warm up session, asphalt was well drenched ahead of the lightweight class race but sun was peeking out and riders were prepared for a race of survival in changing conditions. The result was an unusual race with pretty big gaps by Moto3 standards and with most of the drama unfolding in the frantic first few laps but one man who kept his head cool to take a surprise victory was Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard led the way for most of the race and kept Filip Salac at bay to step onto the highest step of the podium. Salac had a brief go at victory but settled for second and a maiden pole in the world championship. Although he started on the front row of the grid, it was still a surprise to see Riccardo Rossi lift the final trophy on offer, the Italian achieving his first podium in Moto3 after a lonely ride to third.
The start of the race told a different tale, with poleman Andrea Migno making a good start off the line to keep the lead from Jaume Masia and Rossi but going too hot into turn 3 left Masia in charge. It looked like Niccolò Antonelli would finish the first lap in the lead, but the Italian crashed at the final corner and left Salac in charge of proceedings – a big mistake that would ultimately prove costly for his championship position. Tatsuki Suzuki, Jeremy Alcoba, Gabriel Rodrigo and most significantly Jaume Masia soon followed Antonelli’s example and joined the various gravel traps around the track, which helped Pedro Acosta climb up to 5th by lap 3, having started 21st on the grid. However, the rookie also made his first big mistake this season when he slid out that same lap at dreaded turn 3, rejoining back where he started, in 21st spot and having it all to do all over again.
While cameras were busy with the multitude of crash replays, Garcia started lap 3 in the lead and together with Salac, managed to extend a lead of three seconds. Rossi was also stretching a one second gap over Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee, while Ryusei Yamanaka led a big group over six seconds behind the top 5 riders. Acosta had four seconds to find to join that group, climbing up to 16th by lap 6.
Garcia continued to set a hot pace at the front, as the asphalt was steadily hotting up, with only Salac able to match his pace but the Spaniard did not look all that steady on his wet tyres. Rossi was running a pretty lonely race almost five seconds behind them by lap 7, with Sasaki and McPhee still holding hopes of a podium two seconds behind the Italian. The next group 13 seconds down the road occupied positions 6 to 15, with Acosta the last man in that pack and moving back into point scoring positions.
Back at the front, Garcia stretched a one second advantage on Salac by lap 9, which he was slowly increasing and status quo was maintained in the rest of the top 5. Behind them however, Darryn Binder fell victim to infamous turn 3 on that lap, crashing out of the lead of the big battle for sixth position, leaving rookies Adrian Fernandez, who had started 26th, and Xavier Artigas, who started last, in charge of that fight, while Acosta was knocking on the doors of the top 10 at the halfway point of the race.
Salac entered the second half of the race with the fastest lap to his name and quickly reduced the gap to the leader to half a second, forcing Garcia to pick up the pace again. The Snipers rider took advantage of Garcia running wide at Garage Vert to take over the lead but the Spaniard was not keen to give it up and reclaimed top spot into turn 1, immediately extending a one second gap over the following lap. Meanwhile, Rossi was untroubled in third, while McPhee waited until the final six laps to show a wheel to Sasaki and claim fourth spot at turn 13. 15 seconds down the road, Fernandez and Artigas held station and were five seconds away from coming under threat from Acosta, but with only 6 laps remaining, it seemed like a big and risky ask for the championship leader to get any further up the timesheets.
Garcia continued his streak of red sector times at the front and kept Salac at a relatively safe 1.5 seconds until the checkered flag, while McPhee was trying to catch up with Rossi to make it a battle for the final podium position. The gap reduced to one second for the final lap but the Italian dropped the fastest lap of the race to cross the finish line a second and a half ahead of the Scotsman. Sasaki took a solid top five, followed by rookies Fernandez and Artigas. Acosta did a great job to save an eighth place after a tricky weekend, while Deniz Öncü and Romano Fenati completed the top 10 and poleman Migno dropped to 11th after a big moment with two laps remaining.
Acosta’s recovery and his rivals’ misfortune extends his lead in the world championship standings to 54 points, with race winner Garcia becoming his main challenger, two points ahead of Migno and with Fenati another point back.
|15||19||Andi Farid Izdihar||Honda||+52.753|
|21||27||Kaito Toba||KTM||1 Lap|
|22||52||Jeremy Alcoba||Honda||4 Laps|
|99||Carlos Tatay||KTM||8 Laps|
|32||Takuma Matsuyama||Honda||19 Laps|
|2||Gabriel Rodrigo||Honda||20 Laps|
|5||Jaume Masia||KTM||21 Laps|
|24||Tatsuki Suzuki||Honda||21 Laps|
|23||Niccolò Antonelli||KTM||21 Laps|