The lightweight class was eager to get back to battle after the long wait since Qatar but there wasn’t as much of the usual Moto 3 chaos on display, perhaps due to the shortened championship. The lead of the race changed hands a handful of times but Albert Arenas was in the right place at the right time and took back to back wins in the first two races of the season. Ai Ogura turned a 15th grid position into second place, aided by some final turn shenanigans, while Tony Arbolino secured the final podium spot as a consistent performer throughout the race.
It was a different story at the start of the race, when poleman Tatsuki Suzuki made a perfect launch from Andrea Migno, while fellow front row starter John McPhee made a shocking start and was down to 8th spot. The Scotsman’s misfortune aided Raul Fernandez and Arenas to progress to top spots, but Suzuki was consistently a couple tenths ahead of the sizeable pack. The poleman was soon being reeled in by Celestino Vietti and Migno and eventually got demoted from the lead by the Sky duo on lap four, when Vietti picked up top spot. Suzuki lost momentum and also allowed Fernandez and Arenas past. Arbolino overcame a hairy moment early on to stay in podium contention and steadily climbed into second position by lap six, chasing down compatriot Vietti. The lead group still consisted of most of the Moto3 grid but other contenders were yet to make their mark in the early stages, with a notable mention to Sergio Garcia, who had started last after a qualifying blunder and joined the top ten by lap six.
Despite being within striking distance, Vietti found no challenger for the next few laps, Arbolino cautiously following, while Arenas was getting pestered by rookie Jeremy Alcoba. Arbolino took over the lead for the first time at the mid point of the race, thanks to Vietti going wide at turn four, but the lead quickly changed hands when Arenas found an opportunity to defend his title lead from the front of the group. All of a sudden, Darryn Binder picked his way through to second place, with McPhee having recovered from his poor start, demoting Arbolino to fourth, followed by early leaders Suzuki and Vietti. Gabriel Rodrigo, Ogura, Niccolo Antonelli, Migno, Alcoba and Fernandez were still in the lead group, which continued to trade places here and there, with Arenas as the steady leader.
Arenas went unchallenged until the final five laps, when McPhee wrestled his Honda into the lead at the final corner, with Arbolino his main challenger and a significant group still in tow. The Italian briefly picked up the lead on the penultimate lap but the Scotsman started the final lap at the front of the pack. Arbolino attacked again at Pedrosa corner and Arenas followed suit at turn 9, both men getting past McPhee. The Petronas rider played his final card at the final corner but went in too hot and found himself down in the gravel trap in the resulting domino effect. That allowed Arenas to snatch the win, with Ogura following across the line and Arbolino saving a podium spot despite getting tangled in McPhee’s incident. Migno crossed the line two tenths of a second later, ahead of teammate Vietti, Fernandez and Rodrigo. Poleman Suzuki, Antonelli and Masia completed the top ten.
Back to back wins for Arenas see him comfortably in the championship lead, while back to back podiums for Ogura consolidate his second position. McPhee remains third in the championship despite the unfortunate crash, 30 points behind the leader, with Masia, Suzuki and Rodrigo only one point back.
|22||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Honda||+28.844|
|25||53||Deniz ÖNCÜ||KTM||1 Lap|
|17||John MCPHEE||Honda||1 Lap|
|92||Yuki KUNII||Honda||7 Laps|
|12||Filip SALAC||Honda||13 Laps|
|54||Riccardo ROSSI||KTM||16 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|7||Dennis FOGGIA||Honda||0 Lap|
|99||Carlos TATAY||KTM||0 Lap|