An unusually chilly Montmelo set the scene for the first taste of racing of the day and the lightweight class warmed us up nicely with the usual race-long fight for victory. This time out the laurels went to Darryn Binder, the South African consistently near the top of proceedings and scoring a maiden win in Moto3 after a decisive move on the final lap. Arbolino took the door open by Binder and also slid past compatriot Dennis Foggia, the duo taking the remaining podium positions.
Arbolino had made a decent start from pole position, much like fellow front row starter Gabriel Rodrigo, but Raul Fernandez lost a couple of places, allowing Albert Arenas and Binder past. By lap 3, Arenas made his way to the front, aided by one of many slipstream-assisted moves into turn 1, while Arbolino went from first to fourth, having to fight his way back past Binder and Rodrigo. Fernandez kept dropping positions too and was down to 8th, with the likes of Sergio Garcia, John McPhee and Filip Salac getting ahead of him. Having started 24th, Ai Ogura made some fine progress on the first lap to climb as high as 14th position, but then struggled to keep inside the top 15 as he was getting challenged by the likes of Celestino Vietti.
Turn 1 was the main enemy of all race leaders throughout the 21 laps, with Arenas getting pushed back only a lap after grabbing the lead, allowing Rodrigo some time in the limelight, which only lasted another lap as well, Arbolino taking over next time around. The Italian managed to hold onto the lead for a couple of laps but the battle behind him was getting close and crowded and something had to give. That something turned out to be McPhee’s front tyre at turn 4 of lap 6, when the Scotsman's failed overtake on Arenas in the battle for second took them both out of the race. Suddenly, Ogura had an unexpected reason to rejoice but still had work to do from 15th position.
Back ahead, Arbolino was in control but not quite safe, with Binder sniffing around him and eyeing top spot at turn 1. The duo swapped places a handful of times by lap ten, when Jaume Masia and Rodrigo started to get involved. The Spaniard led the way at the halfway mark of proceedings, but the foursome had seven other men on their tail, including Garcia, Fernandez, Foggia, Salac, Vietti, Romano Fenati and Niccolo Antonelli. A second group including Ogura was about a second down the road but steadily reducing the gap.
Once the race reached half point, the lead changed hands at every passing through turn 1 for the next handful of laps, Binder, Rodrigo and Foggia the riders to feature most prominently at the front, while Arbolino and Masia kept close but not close enough to attack for the lead. Vietti was another of the names to pop up into the podium battle for the final six laps, despite his lowly grid position. The final five laps started with the Leopard duo in charge of proceedings, Foggia ahead of Masia and with Arbolino back into the top three. Binder and Rodrigo were briefly demoted from the limelight but were back in the mix for the podium for the final handful of laps.
Although unable to stretch a gap at the front, Foggia was the most consistent leader yet and started the final lap still at the top of the pack. However, Binder made his move at turn 5, nudging Foggia wide and also allowing Arbolino through. That order remained unchanged until the finish line, with Garcia best of the rest in fourth. Alonso Lopez kept close in fifth, while the rest of the group lost a bit of steam on the final lap, Masia taking the checkered flag eight tenths later, ahead of Vietti and Fenati. However, both Masia and Vietti were penalised to drop one position due to exceeding track limits on the final lap, promoting Fenati to sixth place. Antonelli and Rodrigo completed the top 10, with Ogura eventually climbing to 11th position.
While Ogura could not take much advantage of his title rivals’ misfortune, the Japanese rider leaves Barcelona with the championship lead, 3 points ahead of an enraged Arenas. McPhee is 24 points down, while Arbolino comes within 27 points of the lead.
|24||89||Khairul Idham Pawi||Honda||+35.496|
|16||Andrea Migno||KTM||3 Laps|
|99||Carlos Tatay||KTM||4 Laps|
|9||Davide Pizzoli||KTM||10 Laps|
|53||Deniz Öncü||KTM||13 Laps|
|20||Jose Julian Garcia||Honda||13 Laps|
|17||John Mcphee||Honda||16 Laps|
|75||Albert Arenas||KTM||16 Laps|