The intermediate class served a rollercoaster of a race for the enthusiastic crowds in Catalunya and although it would have been the perfect opportunity to find out what’s the deal with Aron Canet’s bow tie, Celestino Vietti had other plans to secure a third victory of the season and regain an advantage in the title battle. The Italian’s last lap move placed him on the top step of the podium, but surrounded by Spanish flags, as he was accompanied by Canet and Augusto Fernandez.
The spotlight at the start of the 22-lap race was firmly on Jake Dixon, the British rider making a lightning start from the second row of the grid to lead the way ahead of Joe Roberts, Canet and poleman Vietti. However, it only took a couple more turns for Roberts to retrieve the lead, with Canet and Dixon in tow and a long queue of riders behind them. Roberts’ lead went unchallenged early on, the American holding onto a half second advantage over Canet, who in turn had that same gap over Dixon – the Aspar rider busy fending off Ai Ogura, Vietti, Fernandez and Marcel Schrotter. Alonso Lopez and Sam Lowes led the pursuit one second down the road, in a group also including the likes of Pedro Acosta and Tony Arbolino.
Back at the front, Roberts put the pace shown in practice to good use and extended a one second advantage by the end of lap seven, with Canet, Dixon and Arenas holding station and allowing the cameras to focus on the joint championship leaders fighting it off for fifth position. While entertaining, the exchanges between Vietti and Ogura dropped them half a second behind the podium battle and allowed Fernandez and Schrotter to join their party. Vietti seemed to have the upper hand in that fight, dropping Ogura one second back by lap nine, helped by Schrotter hounding the Japanese rider, as well as some early tyre struggles. After a fast start, Ogura seemed to be going backwards, quickly dropping behind Schrotter and into the clutches of Lowes.
Lap 10 brought on some drama at the front as well, when Dixon nudged Canet out of the way at turn 10 and while replays were still running, Roberts lost control at turn five, throwing away a comfortable victory. Dixon and Canet suddenly found themselves battling for a maiden win and Canet hit back at turn one, to lead with 10 laps to go, but with Vietti, Fernandez, Arenas and Schrotter sniffing around as well. Vietti in particular was a man on a mission, attacking Dixon at turn 10 with 8 laps remaining and setting off for leader Canet. Another lunge at turn 10 rewarded the Italian with the lead of the race heading into the final seven laps, but Canet slipstreamed past at turn one a couple of laps later, while Dixon, Fernandez and Schrotter were biding their time just behind, dropping Arenas out of podium contention.
Canet started the penultimate lap with a slender advantage of one tenth of a second and a predictable attack from Vietti came at turn 10, but Canet hit back at turn one, at the start of the final lap. Canet did his best to take a tight defensive line at turn 10 but Vietti still found a gap on the exit to take his third win of the season and deny the Spaniard victory on home soil. Right behind that battle, Fernandez robbed Dixon at turn 12 to take third and add another Spanish flag to the podium. Dixon had to settle for fourth, with Schrotter not quick enough to challenge for anything better than fifth. After fading from the podium battle in the final few laps, Arenas retired with a mechanical issue and a crash from Lowes with three laps remaining left sixth place up for grabs in a late battle between Acosta, Ogura and Lopez. The rookie came out on top, but Ogura presumably appreciated the unexpected gift from Arenas and Lowes, as it saved him some points in the world championship. The incidents also allowed Manuel Gonzalez and Tony Arbolino to join the top 10, despite a long lap penalty for the Italian.
Vietti’s victory allows him to extend a 16-point advantage over Ogura in the championship standings, with Canet in third, 24 points back, and Fernandez promoted to fourth, with a 37-point deficit.
|11||19||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Kalex||12.614|
|20||84||Zonta Van Den Goorbergh||Kalex||37.020|
|21||4||Sean Dylan Kelly||Kalex||38.420|
|22||24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||45.612|
|24||42||Marcos Ramirez||MV Agusta||54.598|