Portugal treated us to perfect conditions for the first race of the day and magnificent rookie Pedro Acosta treated us to a thrilling last lap victory to establish himself as a firm contender for the championship. After a tense 21 lap race, Acosta achieved back to back victories and a third consecutive podium in his first three races in the world championship after a fine move on Dennis Foggia on the final lap. The Italian also impressed as he led the way for most of the race but had to settle for second in the end, while poleman Andrea Migno joined them on the podium.
Migno had made a good start from pole and led the first lap ahead of the Leopard Racing duo of Xavier Artigas and Foggia, while Acosta was the man on the move early on, joining the top five by the end of lap 1, having started 8th on the grid. Migno was vulnerable at the front once the group reached the main straight and Artigas entered turn 1 ahead of the pack, where he lasted another lap or so, until Migno reclaimed top spot. By lap three, a lead group of 13 riders stretched one second’s gap on the pursuers, while the first of the pitlane starters, Darryn Binder, was 10 seconds down on the leader.
You could just about hear the Jaws music on lap 4, when Acosta took over the lead for the first time but it was a bittersweet moment for the rookie brigade, as Artigas got nudged out at turn 3 and crashed out of contention. Luckily for the Leopard squad, teammate Foggia was ready to take over the lead of the pack, which increased in numbers as it merged with a small chasing group.
Foggia did well to show the way for the next few laps, although Acosta was eager to attack and had Sergio Garcia, Migno, Gabriel Rodrigo, Ayumu Sasaki and Jaume Masia as the closest challengers in a 17-man group. Rodrigo soon made it harder for himself as he got a long lap penalty on lap 8 for the incident with Artigas, which he served the very next lap and it dropped him to 15th position, almost four seconds behind the leader. Towards the halfway point of the race, Rodrigo was in charge of the chasing group and quickly reduced the gap to the 10 leaders.
Back at the front, no one could beat Foggia on the brakes into turn 1, but the likes of Acosta, Garcia, Migno, Suzuki, Sasaki and Masia seemed in no rush to challenge the leader. The group also included teammates Adrian Fernandez and Romano Fenati, with Rodrigo rejoining the line-up with nine laps remaining.
Although Foggia continued to look strong at the front, he never stretched a gap and Acosta was getting a bit impatient behind him, while his more experienced teammate, Masia, subtly joined the top three but was kept busy by Migno. The group lost two more contenders with six laps remaining, when Adrian Fernandez picked up Tatsuki Suzuki at turn 3.
The long-awaited move on Foggia came at turn 1 with 4 laps remaining, when Migno picked up the lead but his compatriot found his way back ahead by the end of that same lap. Foggia continued to lead the pack for the final handful of laps, helped by a few mistakes from Acosta but none as big as his teammate’s, as Masia crashed out at turn 5 on the final lap and, coupled with a mistake from Garcia which dropped him to the back of the pack, it allowed Foggia and Acosta a half second gap at the front to decide victory amongst themselves.
Acosta made his decisive move at turn 13 and despite a major moment at the final turn – one of many on the final lap – he kept the lead to the checkered flag. Poleman Migno saved the final podium position ahead of Sasaki, while Rodrigo did great to join the top five. Antonelli was best of the rest in sixth, ahead of Fenati and Garcia, while Masia managed to rejoin and score some decent points in ninth. Ryusei Yamanaka rounded out the top ten, with a notable mention going to Jeremy Alcoba and Deniz Oncu, who grabbed the final points on offer despite their pitlane start with a five second delay.
Acosta’s phenomenal start in Moto3 hands him a 31 points advantage in the world championship standings, ahead of teammate Masia, while Binder’s last minute penalty for irresponsible riding in Q2 cost him dearly, now 34 points behind the leader, tied with Antonelli.
|18||19||Andi Farid Izdihar||Honda||+20.284|
|27||Kaito Toba||KTM||6 Laps|
|31||Adrian Fernandez||Husqvarna||5 Laps|
|24||Tatsuki Suzuki||Honda||6 Laps|
|43||Xavier Artigas||Honda||17 Laps|