Given the deceivingly sunny conditions around Le Mans, the odds of an uneventful lightweight class race were almost non-existent and for good reason. A race decided in the final turn is nothing new for Moto3 but this one went one step further and the podium was somewhat decided in parc fermé. Fabio Di Giannantonio started his victory lap at the top of the timesheets but it was Albert Arenas who got to spray the champagne after the Italian was penalised for going off track.
Arenas won’t have minded too much the circumstances of his first victory in the class and shared the podium with teammate Andrea Migno, who hadn’t visited the rostrum in a year. Marcos Ramirez was once again pleasantly surprised to find himself on a podium for the second consecutive weekend. A few big names are missing from this bit of the story and I shall attempt to tell that tale below.
Poleman Jorge Martin had nailed the start and the front row men held station behind him, with most of the field making it unscathed past the first few turns. As the lead Spaniard was attempting to make an early escape, only Jakub Kornfeil kept close as Enea Bastianini was already a second behind the duo by the end of lap two. Kornfeil hit the front by lap three but Martin bided his time and made a ruthless attack to retrieve his position soon after.
Behind the leaders, Marco Bezzecchi took charge of a sizeable pack and started to bring down the gap, aided by the heated battle up front. Martin was trying his best to avoid getting mired in the shenanigans of the regular Moto3 pack but Kornfeil’s frequent attacks promptly brought Bezzecchi, Di Giannantonio and Bastianini back into contention by lap five.
Only one lap later, Martin found himself third as Bezzecchi hit the front for the first time. In even worse news for the poleman, Ramirez tagged another group of five riders to the back of the leaders, bringing Niccolo Antonelli, Arenas, Migno and Tony Arbolino with him. After having to start last on the grid, Aron Canet was eleventh by lap seven, two seconds down the road from the leaders.
On lap eight, Bezzecchi, Martin and Di Giannantonio were still the main players up front, with Bastianini and Kornfeil just about hanging on as the rest of the group was dropping back slightly. Canet was still trying to bridge the gap but was not aided by Lorenzo Dalla Porta nipping at his heels and he lost another second to the leaders.
Martin finally made a move at the halfway point of the race but Bezzecchi had none of it. Meanwhile, the sharks were swimming closer behind them, the gaps shrinking between the top ten, the enlarged podium battle six seconds ahead of Canet.
With eight laps to go, Bezzecchi’s softer rear tyre seemed to still cope just as well as his rivals’ harder option and all eyes were on his still rapid lap times. The Italian was still in the lead with four laps to go, Martin glued to his rear wheel while Bastianini, Di Giannantonio, Kornfeil, Antonelli, Migno, Arenas and Ramirez were all keeping close as well.
For the n-th time, Martin had another quick stint at the front with three laps to go and it lasted for about two sectors before Bezzecchi’s KTM came slipstreaming past. Behind them, Di Giannantonio and Bastianini started playing for third place as well. The penultimate lap spelled disaster in the final turn for Bastianini, who slipped out and forced Kornfeil into a Bond-worthy stunt over the stricken Leopard bike.
Bezzecchi looked like he had it covered until the final turn of the final lap, when Di Giannantonio got ahead. Bezzecchi quickly got himself into trouble and into some airtime, taking an unfortunate Martin with him into the gravel trap. But the drama was not over in the last corner, as Di Giannantonio was given a three seconds time penalty after taking the checker flag and went from hero to zero – or more precisely to fourth place. Arenas was in the right place at the right time to grab the win, ahead of Migno and Ramirez, who also benefited from another time penalty for Antonelli, who dropped to fifth.
After his rodeo moment, Kornfeil recovered sixth position, ahead of Arbolino. Canet pulled eighth place out of the hat in a mix of luck and a good recovery job, with Tatsuki Suzuki and Jaume Masia completed the top ten.
With most of the title contenders taking fewer points than expected, Bezzecchi continues to lead the world championship ahead of his home race. Di Giannantonio is second, four points down, while Canet ended up being the big winner, still in third place but only seven points behind the leader. Martin drops to fourth, with Migno and Ramirez making up some serious places into fifth and sixth.
|4||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||+1.811|
|12||Marco BEZZECCHI||KTM||1 Lap|
|88||Jorge MARTIN||Honda||1 Lap|
|7||Adam NORRODIN||Honda||1 Lap|
|33||Enea BASTIANINI||Honda||2 Laps|
|48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||8 Laps|
|8||Nicolo BULEGA||KTM||13 Laps|
|19||Gabriel RODRIGO||KTM||19 Laps|