The heat of battle was showcased in Assen both literally and metaphorically and until the final chicane it looked like the lightweight class might be able to extend the 12-race run of different winners. However, Tony Arbolino was less keen to help the record books and snatched a late win from an unfortunate Lorenzo Dalla Porta. The Leopard rider missed out by only five hundredths of a second, with Jakub Kornfeil joining them on the podium despite sampling the long lap penalty lane.
Arbolino was in the mix from the very start, the Snipers rider chasing poleman Antonelli into turn one, together with Tatsuki Suzuki. Championship leader Aron Canet made a sluggish start and was running into tenth position, while Romano Fenati flew past him to go from 13th to 6th by lap two. Back at the front, the front row lineup was reunited, Kaito Toba rejoining the party to showcase his team’s retro livery. The Japanese rider snatched the lead at the start of lap four but the field was still bunched together and even Marcos Ramirez in 13th, Jaume Masia in 14th and John McPhee in 17th positions were still in touch with the leaders.
Toba did not lack challengers, rubbing shoulders with Antonelli, Arbolino and Fenati for the next couple of laps. By lap seven, the prodigal son was leading the way and teammate Arbolino had his back. Despite 26 riders still claiming to be part of the lead group, the main actors were the same until the halfway point, when Darryn Binder suddenly materialised into the top three after starting 25th on the grid. One in, one out though, Antonelli taking the long lap penalty as a self-inflicted punishment for cutting the chicane, dropping him to the bottom of the top 20.
With ten laps to go, Toba was still in charge of proceedings but attacks were getting fiercer and the Japanese rider was dethroned by Dalla Porta. The Italian brought some new challengers with him, Jakub Kornfeil joining the party alongside Arbolino, Fenati and Binder. 20 riders still had their name written under the lead group, but Masia and Arenas were no longer part of it, the former abandoning with a technical problem and the later crashing out in turn ten. With six laps to go, the group was reduced further, a tangle at turn 5 taking Toba, Suzuki, Raul Fernandez and Celestino Vietti out of contention, aiding Canet’s case, who was struggling towards the end of top 15.
With four laps to go, riders forgot that white lines indicated track limits and the leader got hit with a long lap penalty but by then, Kornfeil had found a second on the pursuers and only Dalla Porta could keep up. Binder soon abandoned ship and left Arbolino in charge of the chasing pack. Kornfeil finally executed the penalty with two laps to go and dropped from first to third – over a second behind the leaders and under attack from a gaggle of riders led by Gabriel Rodrigo. This allowed Dalla Porta to take an easy lead and his only task was to keep Arbolino at bay but the task was harder than we would have liked. The Leopard man started the final lap in the lead but his compatriot was piling on the pressure by posting personal best times and keeping the gap within a tenth of a second. Arbolino attacked into Ramshoek and then it was a drag to the flag, Arbolino crossing the line half a tenth ahead.
Kornfeil had to settle for the final podium spot, with Rodrigo best of the rest and McPhee completing the top five. Rookie Ai Ogura, Marcos Ramirez, poleman Antonelli, Dennis Foggia and Alonso Lopez joined the top ten, with Fenati losing ground in the later stage of the race to finish 11th.
Canet’s lacklustre 12th place still keeps him in the lead of the world championship but unlucky Dalla Porta reduces the gap significantly to only seven points. Antonelli keeps third, 24 points down, while Arbolino’s win promoted him ahead of Vietti in fourth.
|2||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||+0.045|
|22||18||Ryan VAN DE LAGEMAAT||KTM||+1'32.359|
|40||Darryn BINDER||KTM||4 Laps|
|13||Celestino VIETTI||KTM||5 Laps|
|25||Raul FERNANDEZ||KTM||5 Laps|
|27||Kaito TOBA||Honda||5 Laps|
|24||Tatsuki SUZUKI||Honda||6 Laps|
|75||Albert ARENAS||KTM||7 Laps|
|5||Jaume MASIA||KTM||7 Laps|