Some light cloud cover made conditions more bearable for the lightweight class race but the action was just as fervid, with a last lap decider going the way of Ivan Ortolá. The young Spaniard secured impressive back to back victories, to the delight of the home crowd, and was joined on the podium by an equally delighted David Alonso, who went from 16th on the grid to become the first Colombian on a grand prix podium. Masia’s third place celebrations were more subdued, as the Leopard rider made a good bid for victory until the final lap.
At the start of the 19-lap race, the spotlight fell on some different names, with Deniz Öncü making a good start from pole position to keep the lead, while championship leader Dani Holgado immediately jumped up to second, dropping Ortolá to third at turn one. Holgado soon attached the poleman on the back straight but Öncü quickly retaliated, while Ryusei Yamanaka robbed Ortolá of third, with Romano Fenati, Xavi Artigas, Masia, Jose Antonio Rueda, Ayumu Sasaki and Tatsuki Suzuki making up the early top 10. Having started 16th, Alonso was up to 11th by lap two, while Diogo Moreira had lost a couple of positions to 15th.
Öncü’s struggles started one lap later, when Holgado repeated his attack at turn six and Ortolá took advantage to also sneak ahead of the Turkish rider. Yamanaka demoted him a further position by lap three and the exchanges between the two allowed Holgado and Ortolá to extend an early seven-tenth advantage. Öncü soon reclaimed the lead of the pursuing group, where Masia, Artigas and Alonso were on the move, but the sizeable group still included the likes of Moreira, the Brazilian in 11th position by lap four, but struggling to join the top 10.
Holgado and Ortolá were unchallenged for the next couple of laps, while Masia and Öncü fought it out for the honour of leading the pursuit, but once the Spaniard took over, he quickly bridged the gap to the two leaders by lap six. Meanwhile, Öncü seemed to take a bit of a liberal line around the track and started losing positions by running wide, while also getting a warning for track limits, allowing Yamanaka, Artigas, Alonso and Rueda past in quick succession.
With the poleman quickly fading, all eyes were on the leaders, where Holgado was still fending off challengers but was helped by a heart-breaking technical issue for Yamanaka, who had climbed as high as second before having to retire on lap seven. That left Masia, Ortolá, Artigas, Alonso and Rueda as the main challengers to Holgado’s lead and Masia was the first to demote the championship leader one lap later but Holgado seemed to have a response to every attack.
Holgado was still in the lead at the halfway point of proceedings, but it was all change behind him over the next few laps, the shenanigans allowing the pursuit to close in but the gap reduced quite slowly. The real squabble started with seven laps to go, when Masia attacked Holgado at the final corner to lead once more, and Ortolá followed his example one lap later to demote Holgado to third. Ortolá claimed the lead for the first time at turn 12 with five laps to go and although Masia regained the lead at turn six one lap later, the battles amongst the leaders allowed Sasaki and Öncü to rejoin the victory battle for the remaining four laps. This was with mixed results, the Japanese rider particualrly menacing as he quickly joined the top five, while Öncü was given a long lap penalty for exceeding track limits.
Masia managed to hold onto the lead going into the final lap, but found himself in a vulnerable position, as attacks from Alonso and Ortolá dropped him to 3rd by turn nine. Ortolá pulled another impressive move at Ferrari corner to take the lead and managed to avoid any drama at the final corner, claiming victory by three hundredths of a second. With Alonso and Masia settling for the remaining podium positions, Sasaki and Rueda claimed the rest of the top five, while a punishing final couple of laps relegated Holgado to sixth. Öncü failed to complete his long lap penalty and a three-second post-race sanction dropped him to ninth, behind Artigas and Suzuki.
A subdued Moreira completed the top 10, losing him four points on Holgado in the world championship standings, while Ortolá’s victory brings him within 9 points of the leader. Masia stays fourth, 12 points behind Holgado.
A notable absence was David Munoz, who was declared unfit due to a left heel fracture suffered in qualifying and could not enjoy his first front row start.
|5||99||Jose Antonio Rueda||KTM||0.549|
|19||64||Mario Suryo Aji||Honda||30.347|