All that talk of rain but the umbrellas on the grid only had to protect from the sun as the lightweight class lined up for 23 laps around the Red Bull Ring. Riders revelled in the conditions and served a classic Moto3 race with a side of chaos from start to finish. However, the Spanish anthem played once again for Albert Arenas, who brought KTM at least one victory on home ground after a majestic last lap in Spielberg. Jaume Masia had hopes for a win but eventually celebrated his first podium of the season in second. John McPhee was awarded the final podium spot well after the checkered flag waved, once several penalties were handed out for exceeding track limits on the final lap.
Arenas was the star of the start as well, making the best launch off the line to take control of the pack going into turn 1, ahead of poleman Raul Fernandez and fellow front row starter McPhee. The lead trio got a short-lived half second gap on the chasers led by Celestino Vietti, Gabriel Rodrigo and Tony Arbolino. Masia lost some ground at the start but was still in the mix as the chasing pack was reeling in the leaders. Meanwhile, Darryn Binder was fighting for a top ten position by lap three, having started 22nd on the grid.
Back at the front, McPhee stated lap four in the lead but the groups had merged, making it a 14-man battle for the podium once again, with the chasers not too far back either. The Scotsman did not get too much time in the limelight as first Arenas and then Deniz Oncu snatched the lead only two laps later. The rookie enjoyed leading his first lap but had Binder and Masia giving him nightmares soon after, the trio trading places for the next few laps. Arenas kept close but had to also keep an eye on those white lines as he was given a track limits warning on lap 8. Meanwhile, early leader McPhee got swallowed by the pack and was down in 13th, although still amongst the sizeable lead group.
Attacks were ongoing at the front from the likes of Arenas, Binder, Masia and Vietti but Oncu kept coming up on top in the Moto3 lottery. However, no one seemed to have that extra bit of magic to escape the 17-man pack and feisty exchanges continued in the podium battle. The main contenders appeared to be Oncu, Masia, Arenas and Binder but with eight laps to go, Fernandez, McPhee and Ayumu Sasaki were back amongst the leaders. In the heat of the action and after several hairy moments, Binder found himself outside of the top ten for the final handful of laps, proving once again that everything can change in the blink of an eye in the lightweight class.
Masia seemed to be the most consistent name at the front of proceedings for the final seven laps but Arenas and Oncu did not make it easy for him. Sasaki was in the mix as well but was given a long lap penalty to serve just as he was picking up the lead with four laps remaining, which put him well outside of point positions. The lead group had finally reduced to 10 men but all wanted to make their bid at victory for the final couple of laps, leading to the familiar mayhem for the highlights reel.
Masia started the last lap in the lead but Arenas picked up Vietti and Binder at turn three and then reeled in Masia to attack for the win at turn 9. Masia had to settle for second and then the next few positions were a bit of a blur for a good 10 minutes after the checkered flag. Ogura posted the fastest lap of the race to cross the finish line third, while Binder also recovered to secure fourth and Vietti was fifth, but all of them had exceeded track limits on the final lap, which demoted them one position and promoted McPhee to the final podium spot. With Ogura, Binder and Vietti bumped off the podium to complete the top six, the remaining top ten positions went to Arbolino, Oncu, Fernandez and Suzuki.
Arenas’ impressive victory extends his lead in the championship, while final lap shenanigans saved McPhee a few points in the title battle to trail the leader by 28 points. Ogura drops to third, another two points back, with Suzuki 45 points down on the leader.
|12||Filip Salac||Honda||1 Lap|
|70||Barry Baltus||KTM||17 Laps|
|89||Khairul Idham Pawi||Honda||0 Lap|