Clear blue skies welcomed the first race of the day to make amends for Saturday’s damp adventures and the excellent conditions set the scene for a dramatic lightweight class race. Mostly dramatic for its consequences in the world championship but also quite a feisty exchange for victory, which ultimately went to Albert Arenas, who successfully converted a front row start into his first victory of the season. A memorable race for the Spaniard, that went all the way to the final corner, where championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta had to admit defeat, while also extending his lead in the title battle. Alonso Lopez made his own bid for the win but was just as happy to settle for his first podium in the class.
The starting grid was the last place where poleman Celestino Vietti got any proper airtime, the rookie making an underwhelming start and dropping to fourth by turn one. Marcos Ramirez and Lopez were the big winners of lap one, the duo exchanging top spot for the first lap. Starting 9th, Dalla Porta was already eager to catch up with his title rival and the Italian was helped by Aron Canet moving mostly backwards for the first few laps. Halfway through lap two, Dalla Porta was as high as 5th, while Canet had dropped all the way to 12th.
Back ahead, Ramirez managed to hold on to top spot for the next couple of laps, while Lopez and Tony Arbolino were battling to lead the pursuit but with the habitual sizeable group still in tow. However, the first to dethrone Ramirez was Tatsuki Suzuki, the Japanese rider needing a couple of attempts to settle at the front but securing top spot by lap five. By this point, Dalla Porta became his main threat, while Canet had rejoined the top ten and was making steady progress, ahead of early protagonists Ramirez and Lopez.
Dalla Porta started lap eight in prime position and kept it for a couple of laps but the lead pack was still comprised by pretty much the entire grid. The numbers were reduced at the end of lap nine, when Darryn Binder’s enthusiastic move on Canet pushed the Spaniard into a costly crash at turn 12 that also collected an innocent John McPhee and Suzuki.
Dalla Porta was immediately informed of his rival’s misfortune and the Italian was looking keen to inflict further pain in the championship by taking the win. Another one of the Italian’s main rivals abandoned the fight with ten laps left, when Arbolino confusingly sat up and rejoined at the bottom of the pack. Meanwhile, Binder had a ride through penalty for irresponsible riding to serve and left the lead group, casually taking the long lap route too, for no real reason.
Back at the front, several contenders challenged Dalla Porta but only briefly and with only six laps left, teammate Ramirez was playing wingman with a lead pack of another nine riders to hold back. The main threat to the Leopard machines was Arenas, although Andrea Migno, Lopez, Vietti, Dennis Foggia, Kaito Toba, Ai Ogura, Jakub Kornfeil and Julian Jose Garcia were still in contention. Romano Fenati’s stand-in soon abandoned ship at turn one with only four laps left, after quite a fine race, while Kornfeil just lost contact with the lead group, which was then reduced to nine names.
Things got feisty with three laps to go, when Arenas picked up Dalla Porta out of turn 7 but Ramirez had better momentum and got the both of them. The change only lasted until the final corner, when Dalla Porta picked up both of them to once again retrieve the lead. The championship leader wasn’t missing challengers but every battle ended with the Italian ahead, while rivals continued to fall and fail. Migno and Ogura had not made much noise amongst the leaders until the Italian collected the Japanese rider at turn one, after a failed overtake attempt on Ramirez.
Lopez started the final lap in the lead but a mistake allowed Dalla Porta and Arenas back past. Arenas more successfully attacked Dalla Porta and despite a fight back attempt at the final corner, Arenas had the better run to the line and took a long awaited victory. Lopez joyfully settled for third, with Ramirez missing out on the podium after a bumpy ride at the final corner. Foggia, Vietti and Toba were the rest of the lead group protagonists and they crossed the finish line in places five to seven. Five seconds down the road, Kornfeil finished ahead of Stefano Nepa but the Czech rider was served with a late penalty, allowing Nepa to snatch eighth, while Raul Fernandez and Arbolino completed the top ten. Despite always being in the mix at the business end, Gabriel Rodrigo missed out on the Thai GP following a fracture to his right foot suffered in the warm up session.
The dramatic reversal of fortunes for the King of Aragon, Aron Canet, gives Dalla Porta the upper hand in the championship once again, by 22 points. Arbolino’s strange race leaves him third but 44 points down, with Ramirez climbing into fourth.
|2||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||+0.231|
|44||Aron CANET||KTM||4 Laps|
|79||Ai OGURA||Honda||1 Lap|
|69||Tom BOOTH-AMOS||KTM||1 Lap|
|10||Julian Jose GARCIA||Honda||4 Laps|
|71||Ayumu SASAKI||Honda||7 Laps|
|24||Tatsuki SUZUKI||Honda||13 Laps|
|17||John MCPHEE||Honda||15 Laps|