The Moto3 class celebrated its 150 race under the burning sun of Misano and no man celebrated more than John McPhee, the Petronas racer taking his first victory of the season after a disappointing Saturday that saw him start 17th on the grid. An ecstatic McPhee denied the win to poleman Ai Ogura, with compatriot Tatsuki Suzuki making it a good day for Japan, who gets two representatives on the podium.
The Japanese duo engaged in battle early on, with Ogura having made decent start from pole but coming under friendly fire from Suzuki into turn one. Neither lasted in the lead very long, as Gabriel Rodrigo took control at the front by the end of lap one, ahead of the Japanese riders, while Albert Arenas, having started 13th, was already sixth and firmly in podium contention. No such luck for Celestino Vietti, Raul Fernandez and Sergio Garcia, who did not make it past turn four in an incident initiated by Garcia.
Suzuki and Ogura continued to harass Rodrigo for the next couple of laps but the lead group was still sizeable and the likes of Tony Arbolino soon wanted a spot in the limelight as well. The Italian was in the lead by lap 5 but Rodrigo and Suzuki did not allow that to last. While the duo were the most keen to lead, the main group included many other contenders, including poleman Ogura and championship leader Arenas but also Darryn Binder, who had started 19th, Jaume Masia from 14th on the grid and McPhee quickly progressing from 17th.
The timing screens saw a new name at the front on lap 8 but Binder was only briefly allowed to lead, until Rodrigo resumed control of proceedings but with 20 riders still in tow. The Argentine rider looked like the strongest man of the lot, while the main championship contenders were not really making waves yet, stuck in the middle of the pack.
Binder continued to attack Rodrigo at the halfway mark of the race, but the Gresini rider always had the upper hand into turn 1. Rodrigo was finally dethroned by Binder with ten laps remaining but then Masia wanted a say in that and Binder high sided out of contention at turn 6 while trying to fight back. That left the familiar duo of Rodrigo and Suzuki to once again dice for the lead with eight laps remaining, with brief interventions from Masia.
Rodrigo continued to be the most consistent name at the top of the timesheets going into the final five laps, but title favourites McPhee and Arenas found their way forward and were becoming threats in the podium battle. The Petronas rider put his name at the front going out of the final corner with three laps remaining but Masia took his turn one lap later. While McPhee only lost a place, title rival Arenas lost a big chunk of points as he crashed out at turn 3 with two laps remaining.
Masia could smell his championship odds improving as he started the final lap in the lead but rivals ganged up on him at turn 8 and he found himself 7th suddenly. McPhee was in prime position after that attack and Ogura looked to change that but a shaky moment denied him a shot at an overtake and allowed the Scotsman to cross the finish line three hundredths of a second ahead. Ogura and Suzuki completed the podium positions, with Jeremy Alcoba best of the rest after an excellent final lap. While fully deserving of a podium after the performance shown throughout the race, Rodrigo had to make do with fifth, ahead of Arbolino and Masia. The Italian trio of Romano Fenati, Dennis Foggia and Andrea Migno rounded out the top ten positions.
Arenas retains the championship lead despite flinging himself off his machine but the gap is reduced to only five points to a very consistent Ogura and 14 points to victor McPhee.
|21||89||Khairul Idham Pawi||Honda||+18.331|
|75||Albert Arenas||KTM||2 Laps|
|40||Darryn Binder||KTM||9 Laps|
|71||Ayumu Sasaki||KTM||17 Laps|
|21||Alonso Lopez||Husqvarna||17 Laps|
|25||Raul Fernandez||KTM||0 Lap|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|13||Celestino Vietti||KTM||0 Lap|