After a punishing warm up session in cool conditions, things hotted up to more a more pleasant ambiance by the time lights went out for the lightweight class race and the action got nearly flammable throughout the 22 laps. But as unpredictable as Moto3 races tend to be, the end result seems to be the same this season, extraordinary rookie Pedro Acosta turning his worst qualifying position of the season into a third consecutive victory, becoming the first ever rider to take four podiums in his first four grand prix. He came under less than friendly fire from his KTM colleagues but after some final corner drama, Romano Fenati took second, in his first podium of the year, while Jeremy Alcoba completed the podium after passing through the naughty corner of the long lap penalty twice during the race.
The start of the race told a different story, poleman Tatsuki Suzuki making a great start from pole from Andrea Migno and Gabriel Rodrigo, while front row starter Alcoba dropped a few positions and started planning his double long lap penalty, given for irresponsible riding in Q1. Darryn Binder, Fenati, Ayumu Sasaki, John McPhee, and Niccolo Antonelli closely followed, while Acosta quickly joined the top ten, having started 13th. McPhee was the first to drop out of the leading group at turn seven, leaving Jerez with an unfortunate zero points on the season’s scoresheet.
Despite the great opening lap from Suzuki, Rodrigo picked up a slipstream into turn one to start lap 2 in the lead, the duo making noise at the front in the early stages, while Binder, Migno and Fenati kept close and Alcoba did his first long lap penalty, dropping him out of the top ten, right ahead of Masia, who had made a poor start. Acosta was up to 8th and chasing down his Red Bull KTM Tech 3 colleagues Sasaki and Deniz Öncü. After a good showing in warm-up, Carlos Tatay made an excellent start from 16th on the grid, to exchange places with Acosta early on.
Rodrigo kept in control at the front for the next couple of laps and while the threat from Binder and Suzuki in particular was ever present, it was his own mistake that took him out of contention with a big high side at cursed turn 7 on lap 5. The ensuing chaos left Öncü in charge of the pack and Acostra picking up the role of the main challenger. Binder, Migno and Suzuki kept a close eye on proceedings in a sizeable lead group.
Acosta first picked up the lead on lap 8 and although Binder quickly changed, the Honda man was surrounded by KTM machines eager to make his life difficult. The top end of the lead group was a KTM invasion, with Öncü, Acosta, Masia, Sasaki and the undercover KTM of Fenati, while Binder and Migno were the most prominent of the Hondas. Sergio Garcia, Suzuki and Tatay were also in the lead group, just ahead of Alcoba, who kept close to the top ten despite his double long lap roadtrip. Things got even more frantic mid-race, with track limits infringements all round and even more long lap penalties dished out. The next big victim in the lead group was poleman Suzuki, who crashed out at turn 2 with 10 laps remaining, in yet another heart-breaking DNF for last year’s victor.
Öncü, Acosta and Masia were an orange blur exchanging places at the front of the pack for the next few laps, while the likes of Fenati, Binder, Sasaki and Migno bided their time to break the Red Bull party. Artigas dropped over a second behind the leading group, leading the chasing pack including the likes of Tatay, Alcoba, Garcia and Antonelli, who had to pick up the pace if they wanted a whiff at the podium.
When a gaggle of KTMs battle, a Husqvarna apparently ends up on top, with Fenati picking up the lead at turn 6 with 7 laps remaining and fighting off Acosta, Öncü, Masia and Sasaki for the next couple of laps. Öncü was the feistiest of the lot in the closing stages, which also cost him a track limits warning but the Turkish rider retook control of the leading group for the final five laps. The shenanigans at the front also allowed a few of the men behind to join the battle, including Tatay and Alcoba, although the Avintia rider was soon slapped with another long lap penalty for exceeding track limits.
The KTM familia of Acosta, Fenati and Öncü continued to exchange top spot for the final four laps, with Masia keeping a bit more quiet right behind them. Öncü spent the most time in the limelight out of the foursome but was unable to stretch a gap at the front. A shaky moment for Acosta with two laps remaining put him and Fenati on the backfoot but the duo quickly bridged the four tenths gap and the Spaniard soon picked up the lead with a fine move at turn six, that got him past both Masia and Öncü on the final lap.
Acosta was faultless to the finish line but things got predictably frantic at the final turn, where an over enthusiastic Öncü crashed and picked up Masia and Binder, the trio ending up in the gravel. The end result was that Fenati and Alcoba inherited the remaining podium positions, Migno missing out by two hundredths of a second after spending the final part of the race more as a passive observer. Sasaki completed the top five, while Tatay, Dupasquier, Antonelli, Artigas and Yamanaka rounded out the top ten positions.
Another phenomenal victory for exceptional rookie Acosta extends his championship lead to an impressive 51 points from Antonelli, with Migno another 2 points back. Fenati jumps six positions to fourth, 55 points behind the leader, while Masia is a painful 56 points behind his teammate.
|18||19||Andi Farid Izdihar||Honda||+12.990|
|7||Dennis Foggia||Honda||3 Laps|
|24||Tatsuki Suzuki||Honda||10 Laps|
|2||Gabriel Rodrigo||Honda||18 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|17||John Mcphee||Honda||0 Lap|