The lightweight class opened the show in front of the great wall of Aragon and provided the usual amount of entertainment until the final turn of the final lap. Although Albert Arenas seemed to be the strongest rider over the 19 laps, the long run into turn 16 was his downfall and Jauma Masia took advantage to score an Aragon double and get right back into title contention while scoring Honda’s 800th Grand Prix victory across all classes. The final couple of corners also rewarded Ayumu Sasaki with a maiden podium in second position, while compatriot and KTM colleague Kaito Toba shared the cava in third.
The first lap told a different story, with Tony Arbolino getting the best launch off the line but quickly under attack from poleman Raul Fernandez at turn 2, with title rivals Arenas and Celestino Vietti straight into the mix. Arenas didn’t take long to claim the lead on the back straight but Fernandez hit straight back into turn 1. Meanwhile, John McPhee had started 17th and was up to 10th by the end of lap 1, in close proximity to rival Ai Ogura.
Gabriel Rodrigo tried his hand at the lead at turn 16 next time around but turn 1 was once again Fernandez’ strong point. That did not stop the Argentine rider from trying again on lap three and that time he kept it past turn 1, aided by Vietti and Sasaki attacking the poleman. Vietti soon became a threat for the lead and started lap five ahead of Sasaki, Arenas, Darryn Binder and Toba, with Rodrigo and Fernandez dropping out of the top five in the finish straight slipstream bonanza, together with Masia and Arbolino. Meanwhile, both McPhee and Ogura were dropping positions towards the bottom of the top 15 but were still in the leading group.
With the generous slipstreaming opportunities, the lead had changed hands on every lap, until Arenas took his turn on lap 6 and actually held on for two full laps. While Fernandez was still fighting to rejoin the top five, teammate Toba was attacking the leader and briefly robbing him of top spot on lap 8. Right behind that battle, Masia and Binder were joined by McPhee inside the top five, while Ogura was pushing to get into point scoring positions.
While Toba continued to bother Arenas, the championship leader always found a way back into the lead by turn 1 and started the final half of the race ahead of a leading group of about 25 riders. Toba’s charge seemed to have faded a bit and left the likes of Binder, Masia and Vietti to challenge the leader, while Sergio Garcia went under the radar to join the top 5, having started 28th on the grid. Sasaki, Toba, Arbolino, McPhee and Fernandez were still in the top ten positions, while Ogura finally broke into the points and was hoping to have a say in the sizeable podium battle.
Although Arenas was mostly unbothered at the front, the likes of Masia, Binder and Vietti were still looking for a way past. Masia tested the waters a couple of times at the final turn but Arenas always found the inside by turn 1. If Arenas needed another reason to worry, a track limits warning with four laps to go provided that but it did not seem to affect his speed much and although Masia changed tactic and overtook at turn 1 instead, Arenas still found a way past soon after. Arenas started the final two laps holding Masia at bay, while the battle for third was unfolding between the likes of McPhee, Toba, Vietti and Binder.
All the back straight dress rehearsals for Masia paid off on the final lap, the Leopard rider getting past Arenas and was immediately followed by Sasaki and Toba, Arenas finding himself off the podium in the blink of an eye. Title rival Vietti completed the top five, ahead of McPhee and an impressive Deniz Oncu. Binder finished ahead of Ogura and Arbolino in the rest of the top ten positions, aided by an unfortunate last lap crash for Tatsuki Suzuki and Garcia. Alonso Lopez did well to finish 11th after serving a long lap penalty, ahead of poleman Fernandez.
Arenas continues to lead in the world championship standings, 19 points ahead of Ogura, with Vietti another point down and Masia up to fourth, 24 points behind the leader.
|27||89||Khairul Idham Pawi||Honda||+32.799|
|24||Tatsuki Suzuki||Honda||1 Lap|
|11||Sergio Garcia||Honda||1 Lap|