Rodeo day at CotA got underway with the lightweight class braving the bumps in the warmest conditions of the weekend, but there was barely any time to discuss the infamous conditions because the race quickly turned into not one but two dramatic sprints. Little did Jaume Masia know when he lined up in pole position that he won’t end up in a featured role by the end of the day, but he did get a hint off the line, when Xavier Artigas made a suspiciously good start from the middle of the second row. Although Masia was back ahead by turn 2, the rookies were on a move, both Artigas and Izan Guevara getting past the poleman by the end of the first lap. However, Artigas swiftly received a double long lap penalty for a jump start, dropping him down to 15th position over the next few laps and leaving Guevara in the lead of the race, ahead of Masia and Alcoba.
Meanwhile, Dennis Foggia had lost some ground at the start, down to 8th place and was quickly trying to recover positions to rejoin the victory battle, as did John McPhee, and both riders made fast progress to catch up with the leading trio. The Italian joined the victory battle by lap five, bringing the likes of Deniz Öncü, Andrea Migno and the Petronas boys with him, but Pedro Acosta was also making progress and was up to 8th and only a second and a half behind the leader.
By lap six, it looked like an 11-man group had broken one second away from the next group led by Romano Fenati, but the Italian seemed keen to recover ground and had Ayumu Sasaki, Filip Salac and Artigas for company – the sanctioned rookie the fastest man on track at that stage.
Guevara continued to be at the front of the leading group over the next few laps, while Foggia, McPhee and Masia allowed him a bit of breathing room. Acosta picked up the chase seven tenths back, but red flags started waving on lap 7, as a consequence of Filip Salac requiring some medical attention after a crash at turn 11. While the Czech rider was taken to the medical centre, thankfully conscious, a brand new five-lap sprint got underway, with the grid positions based on the standings of the last completed lap, placing Guevara on pole from Foggia and McPhee.
Once the lights went out for a second time, Guevara kept the lead from pole, with McPhee and Öncü getting ahead of Foggia, who once again lost a couple places at the start. Öncü briefly found his way into the lead but Guevara fought back and the exchange allowed Binder to get in the mix. Acosta made a good start to join the top 6 early on, but then started losing ground and dropped down to 11th by lap two.
Guevara looked like extending a gap at the front but disaster struck on the second lap, when the Spaniard ran wide at turn 12 and retired with a mechanical problem. While the rookie was busy destroying the décor in his box in a bit of a tantrum, McPhee inherited the lead ahead of a 10-man lead group closed by Acosta. However, an unfortunate touch of wheels on the back straight on lap 3 caused a scary crash for Alcoba and catapulted Migno and Acosta a long way down the road. Another red flag was inevitable and watching all three riders walk away was almost unbelievable.
Riders returned to pitlane once more and the rulebook was back out, but it seemed useless in this unique scenario. After some deliberations, the race was understandably not resumed or restarted but confusingly, the results at the first red flag were declared final, handing Guevara a surprise maiden win and placing Foggia and McPhee on the podium. Initial poleman Masia had to make do with fourth, ahead of Öncü, Alcoba and Binder, with Acosta, Suzuki and Migno completing the top 10.
Although Acosta probably had more on his mind than the championship after the Sunday he’s had, he continues to lead the title standings, although Foggia reduced the gap slightly. Despite missing out on the race following a crash on Friday, Sergio Garcia remains third and not totally out of contention just yet.
|24||19||Andi Farid Izdihar||Honda||+14.794|
|12||Filip Salac||KTM||1 Lap|