Phillip Island is always a given to provide fine entertainment and the sun extended a tempting invitation to the lightweight class riders. They replied and gave us a closely fought and at times hair raising affair. The best out of the 14 contenders who made it to the flag was Albert Arenas, the Spaniard putting together a perfect final lap to get onto the top step of podium for the second time this season, once again ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio, but this time actually crossing the line ahead of the Italian. The final place on the podium went to Celestino Vietti, the Italian youngster getting a first podium on only his second attempt.
Poleman Martin was part of the frantic action as well, after he got swamped in the slipstream into turn one after the start and allowed Gabriel Rodrigo to only briefly take charge at the front. Martin then found the inside line at turn four and the Spaniard looked to get away once again but the power of Rodrigo’s KTM helped him past time and again, the duo being the early protagonists at the top end of the usual massive group. Despite his lowly starting position, Marco Bezzecchi was still part of that group but was struggling to make much progress, eventually joining the top ten by lap four.
Darryn Binder made his presence felt by picking up the lead after some mistakes snuck in Martin’s repertoire and dropped the Spaniard towards the bottom of the top ten, where he was greeted by championship nemesis Bezzecchi. Marcos Ramirez and Dennis Foggia took stints at the front in the next couple of laps but following a few excellently executed slipstreams, Bezzecchi was putting his bid for the lead by lap eight. Meanwhile, Martin got pushed around by battles in the midfield and was just holding on to a top ten position.
With the top 23 still in close proximity by lap ten, many could claim their share of the lead and exchanges were aplenty throughout the field. Martin struggled to get within the top ten but momentum changed once again on lap 11 when Rodrigo’s accident wiped out an unlucky Bezzecchi. Martin seemed to get a boost of motivation and swiftly found himself back in runner up position to Binder. After starting 17th and struggling early on, Di Giannantonio made quick movement into the top ten to join the fight for podium positions. Over the next few laps, the lead group lost a few more contenders to pretty big tumbles for Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Ramirez and Jaume Masia.
With nine laps to go, front row starter Ayumu Sasaki took a turn at the front and Arbolino added his name to the leaders’ list soon after, proving that top position was a vulnerable one come any straight stretch of tarmac. Martin took on that challenge with seven laps left and attempted a breakaway but that lasted barely a lap before the 17-rider pack swallowed him up once again. With Martin the only one with the long game in mind and many riders looking at a first win, chaos got taken up a notch in the final five laps, Arbolino and Foggia adding to the DNF list.
Aron Canet got his chance to take off at the front in the final four laps but Martin’s corner speed on the inside of the Southern Loop with two laps to go got him past a handful of riders and into the lead. However, the Spaniard was not too keen to be the prey on the final lap and invited the opposition past but his plan backfired and a late mistake dropped him back just enough to put him out of podium contention.
Arenas found himself into the lead going into the final lap and despite the slipstream opportunities, the Spaniard kept a cool head to cross the finish line ahead of Di Giannantonio and Vietti, who came under the radar to take his first podium to the detriment of Tatsuki Suzuki and nine other riders who crossed the line within a second of the winner.
Martin had to settle for fifth position, which puts him 12 points ahead of Bezzecchi with two rounds left of the championship. Given the unpredictable nature of races of late, Di Giannantonio is still not out of contention, the Italian only 20 points behind his teammate.
|2||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||+0.052|
|14||Tony ARBOLINO||Honda||2 Laps|
|10||Dennis FOGGIA||KTM||2 Laps|
|42||Marcos RAMIREZ||KTM||10 Laps|
|5||Jaume MASIA||KTM||10 Laps|
|48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||11 Laps|
|12||Marco BEZZECCHI||KTM||13 Laps|
|19||Gabriel RODRIGO||KTM||13 Laps|