Sunny Spielberg set the stage for the Moto3 show and the lightweight class delivered a much anticipated maiden victory for Celestino Vietti. The Italian had another go at properly popping the prosecco, this time from the top step of the podium, after 23 laps of battle with compatriot Tony Arbolino, who had to settle for the second podium place. Ai Ogura was in the mix for much of the proceedings and occupied the final podium spot to add some more fire to his championship challenge.
Poleman Gabriel Rodrigo also looked like a contender as he launched off the line but Arbolino flew from the second row and swept past the Gresini rider heading into turn three. Front row starters Raul Fernandez and Tatsuki Suzuki kept close to the leaders, while title contenders Ogura, John McPhee and Albert Arenas were trying to bridge the slight half second gap to the leaders. That mission was accomplished in a couple of laps, when Darryn Binder picked up the chase and brought a sizeable group back into the podium action. Championship leader Arenas was part of that group but keeping a low profile in the early stages, towards the bottom of the top ten.
Meanwhile, Rodrigo was attacking Arbolino at every opportunity but could not make it stick on the Italian. Having had 9 laps to make his move, the Gresini rider found himself under pressure from Binder and McPhee and a four-man fight into turn 9 pushed Arbolino from first to fifth. The Italian didn’t take long to retrieve the lead by lap ten, showing the way to a group of 12, but with Rodrigo, McPhee and Binder still his main challengers at the mid point of the race. Front row starter Fernandez had dropped to the back of the lead group early on and eventually lost contact with the leaders for the final ten laps.
The last third of the race brought some new challengers for Arbolino in Ayumu Sasaki, Vietti and Ogura, while McPhee, Rodrigo and Binder kept close but were getting busy with the likes of Deniz Oncu and Arenas. Oncu was progressing quickly within the lead group but a mistake at turn one launched him into teammate Sasaki and took both KTM riders out of action.
Vietti was the only one who managed to put his name ahead of Arbolino’s at the top of the timesheets for the next few laps but the Snipers rider kept finding his way back ahead. The exchanges continued but that did not stop the Italian duo from stretching a gap at the front for the final couple of laps. The SKY rider started the final lap ahead and closed all doors until the checkered flag to secure his first victory in the world championship. Arbolino had a hairy final turn but saved second place ahead of Ogura, while Rodrigo had to make do with fourth after his early heroics. Arenas joined the top five for the final handful of laps, narrowly beating Binder and Suzuki to the line and with Fernandez, Stefano Nepa and Sergio Garcia rounding out the top ten positions.
A subdued Arenas keeps the championship lead by 25 points, while Ogura’s podium makes him his main title contender, also aided McPhee crashing out on the penultimate lap. That leaves McPhee 39 points down on the leader, with Vietti climbing into fourth, another point back.
|17||John McPhee||Honda||2 Laps|
|71||Ayumu Sasaki||KTM||5 Laps|
|53||Deniz Öncü||KTM||5 Laps|
|52||Jeremy Alcoba||Honda||10 Laps|
|54||Riccardo Rossi||KTM||21 Laps|