With dense yellow flares covering what I presume was a sunny sky, the lightweight class promised one of their classics, with at least a dozen riders who realistically had the pace to win after practice. Most of those riders featured in the action but the story came down to two people: the poleman and the bridesmaid. Lorenzo Dalla Porta led the most laps ahead of an intimidatingly large leading pack but Tony Arbolino had marginally better timing and luck to take the checkered flag first. The Snipers rider had a dream day, taking his first victory at his home race from pole position and making it an extraordinary 11 different winners in the last 11 races in the lightweight class. It was a tough defeat for Dalla Porta but second place brought him closer to the lead in the championship standings. Jaume Masia completed the podium after a hard fought race where he navigated his way through the chasing pack and the lead pack to take home a trophy.
Despite Gabriel Rodrigo stealing his limelight at the start, Arbolino found a better line through San Donato to lead lap one. Tatsuki Suzuki was up to second by the end of that lap despite his grid penalty but the most impressive start was made by John McPhee, the Scotsman starting 17th and climbing up to sixth by lap two. However, all this meant nothing in the land of slipstream and despite the still massive lead group, the exchanges at the front were more towards a ballet than a tango. Rodrigo left said dance on lap four while entering Arrabbiata 1.
It wasn’t until lap seven that the cream started to rise to the top, the leaders one second ahead of the chasing pack. Quite keen on having clear air at the front, Dalla Porta showed the way quite comfortably by then, six tenths ahead of Arbolino, Suzuki, Darryn Binder, McPhee, Dennis Foggia and Aron Canet, with Niccolo Antonelli recovering from his hefty grid penalty to lead the chasing group. The chasers also included Masia, Andrea Migno, Marcos Ramirez, Kaito Toba and just about holding on, Romano Fenati. The Italian had a slow start once again, as low as 19th after the first handful of laps and slowly clawing his way back in.
By lap nine, the lead pack was starting to attack Dalla Porta, first with Arbolino and then Binder but the Leopard rider always found a way back and built a bit of a gap to give himself a shot at resisting the slipstream on the straight. While all this was going on, the lead group kept growing, Antonelli, Masia and Migno merging to the podium battle while Fenati made it into the lead of the second group two seconds down the road.
The first real mistake from Dalla Porta came at the end of lap nine, the Italian running wide at Correntaio and allowing a handful of competitors to catch up – a mistake he fully made up for three turns later with an overtake on five riders at the final corner to retrieve the lead. While all this was playing out, more and more riders tagged along to the leaders, Fenati, Toba and Ayumu Sasaki joining the party. Despite the sizeable group, it was the same actors hogging the spotlight at the front, Dalla Porta, Suzuki, Binder and Arbolino keener to lead the way than their colleagues. Much to their concern, Dalla Porta seemed to have found a way to build enough of a gap when it mattered, in the final sector, so their aim was to keep him within reach in the final corner of the final lap.
Whatever plan they came up with, it didn’t seem to be very well executed. Migno and Fenati tangled with five laps to go at final corner, soon followed by Sasaki getting caught up in a highside for Toba, reducing the contenders to eight names – Binder no longer one of them as he faded towards the end of the race. That was cue for Antonelli to show his intentions and have a go at Dalla Porta but there was no slowing down the Leopard man.
The final three laps got more frantic in typical Moto3 style and attacks came left and right in the lead group lap but the pack seemed to drop the ball once again on the final lap and allowed Dalla Porta to lead in the final corner. However, the one time Dalla Porta really needed his strategy to work, it did not and Arbolino’s slipstream was just enough to rob him at the line by less than three hundredths of a second. Masia had led briefly on the final lap and crossed the line third, ahead of an excellent comeback ride for Antonelli in fourth. Foggia, McPhee, Canet and Suzuki decided positions five to eight amongst the lead group, with Celestino Vietti and Binder completing the top ten.
Despite going under the radar in the battle for victory and never really having a go at the lead, Canet took a safe bag of points and helped by Dalla Porta’s misfortune, this kept him in charge of the championship standings. However, Dalla Porta is getting closer, only three points back on the Spaniard, with Antonelli and Masia not too far back either.
|2||48||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||HONDA||0.029|
|71||Ayumu Sasaki||HONDA||4 laps|
|27||Kaito Toba||HONDA||4 laps|
|16||Andrea Migno||KTM||5 laps|
|55||Romano Fenati||HONDA||5 laps|
|42||Marcos Ramirez||HONDA||9 laps|
|69||Tom Booth-Amos||KTM||11 laps|
|21||Alonso Lopez||HONDA||13 laps|
|3||Kevin Zannoni||TM||13 laps|
|19||Gabriel Rodrigo||HONDA||17 laps|
|22||Kazuki Masaki||KTM||18 laps|