Misano was the sunniest and driest it’s been this weekend and the lightweight class took full advantage of the improved and somewhat unfamiliar conditions to put on another show on the Italian circuit. Although equalling his worst qualifying position of the season, Dennis Foggia enjoyed his time on the home playground the most, fighting through the field to yet another victory and continuing a solid run of podiums to strengthen his title chase. Jaume Masia pushed hard to return to the top step of the podium but, in the end, he was no match for Foggia’s form and had to settle for second, while teammate Pedro Acosta joined the podium on the final lap, to save himself a few extra points in the championship. Although the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo didn’t look the happiest they could be, the double podium secured them the team championship.
The start of the race told a very different story, with poleman Niccolò Antonelli making a fast start ahead of Riccardo Rossi and Izan Guevara, while a cautious Acosta dropped a couple of places to 8th and rival Foggia dropped two positions to 16th by the end of lap one. Despite a short-lived attempt from Stefano Nepa on lap 2, Antonelli was in the limelight in the early stages of the race, while Masia bridged a half second gap to soon get involved in the victory battle. Acosta and Foggia both recovered a couple of positions over the next few laps, but the outstanding start badge went to Darryn Binder, who quickly went from 16th on the grid up to 7th place.
The leaders’ group had reduced to nine men after the first half dozen laps, with Antonelli leading the way from Masia, Filip Salac, Nepa, Acosta, Guevara, Xavier Artigas, Binder and Ayumu Sasaki and stretching a 1.5 seconds gap over the chasers led by Adrian Fernandez. However, Foggia started to make progress after the sluggish start, picking up the lead of the chase by lap 7 and quickly reducing the deficit to the leaders.
Back at the front, Antonelli still fended off Nepa and Masia, while Acosta was starting to sniff round his teammate but was not given an easy time by fellow rookie Guevara. One second down the road, Foggia had bridged the gap to the leaders by lap 9 and was making progress inside the top 10, getting ahead of Salac and chasing teammate Artigas.
Helped by the frequent exchanges between Guevara and Nepa behind him, Antonelli continued to lead for the next few laps but a bit of a moment at turn 7 dropped the Italian all the way down to 7th and left Acosta in charge of proceedings at the halfway point of race. The championship leader didn’t spend much time at the front, as a set of mistakes of his own allowed Guevara, Masia, Foggia and Binder past, dropping Acosta back to 5th. Masia took the lead with 10 laps remaining but didn’t even last one lap in the spotlight, as Foggia got past at turn 1 to put further pressure on Acosta, who seemed to struggle somewhat, dropping half a second on the leading group and fending off Nepa.
Although Masia, Guevara and Binder kept close, Foggia was unchallenged at the front over the next few laps, while a second down the road, Acosta was struggling to find a way past Nepa in the battle for fifth. He eventually climbed into 5th with 6 laps remaining due to Guevara crashing out of 3rd place at turn 8, but the championship leader did breeze past Nepa on the main straight, after the Italian went off track at the final corner. Acosta’s mission did not get any easier, with a two second gap to the trio ahead and with Nepa still eager to reclaim fourth and doing so one lap later.
With four laps remaining, the victory battle was a two-man affair, only Masia keeping up with Foggia, but the Spaniard bided his time for an attack and the right time never came. Foggia put in his fastest lap of the race to extend a big enough gap on the final lap and claim a fairly impressive victory ahead of Masia. Binder had dropped out of the victory battle for the final handful of laps and a comfortable two-second advantage over the next group evaporated on the last lap, the South African coming under fire from Nepa, Acosta and a recovering Antonelli. Acosta timed a move to perfection to take the final podium position on the final lap, ahead of Binder, and limit the damage in the championship standings. A feisty Nepa had to settle for fifth, ahead of Antonelli and with Romano Fenati recovering some ground in the final half of the race to take seventh place. Sasaki, Artigas and Salac rounded out the top 10 places.
Acosta’s late damage limitation exercise takes him back to Portimao with a 21-point advantage over the in-form Foggia.
|15||19||Andi Farid Izdihar||Honda||+19.264|
|92||Yuki Kunii||Honda||3 Laps|
|16||Andrea Migno||Honda||11 Laps|
|99||Carlos Tatay||KTM||11 Laps|
|24||Tatsuki Suzuki||Honda||13 Laps|
|17||John Mcphee||Honda||15 Laps|
|54||Riccardo Rossi||KTM||18 Laps|