The final Moto3 tango of the year started with the principal dancer at the forefront and ended with him in the gravel trap, while the understudy swooped in to take the laurels. At the end of a highly disputed 23 laps and a particularly dramatic final one, Xavier Artigas pulled off a last corner overtake to claim a maiden victory in his rookie Moto3 season and denying the local boys. Sergio Garcia came very close to a second victory on home soil but had to settle for second, while Jaume Masia rode an excellent race from 23rd on the grid to 3rd on the podium.
The spotlight early on was on Pedro Acosta, the world champion making a fast start from pole ahead of fellow front row starters Tatsuki Suzuki and Izan Guevara, while Garcia and Dennis Foggia swapped positions, the Spaniard climbing into 7th and the Italian down to 10th. However, before the hierarchy got settled, synchronised high-sides for Lorenzo Fellon and Darryn Binder at turn 4 took them both out of the lead group.
An early mistake from Acosta allowed Suzuki and Salac past on the second lap but the world champion attacked at the next passing through turn 1 and Suzuki running wide dropped him to fifth place, behind Acosta, Guevara, Filip Salac and Andrea Migno. Although the Japanese rider was out of reach of Acosta for the moment, the Spaniard did not have it all his own way at the front, fellow rookie Guevara particularly keen to attack at turn 1. Many of the usual contenders were still part of the sizeable lead group extending all the way down to 16th place on lap 5 and already including Masia, who was knocking on the doors of the top 10 after starting 23rd.
Acosta continued to lead the way for the next few laps, with occasional interruptions from Guevara at turn 1, while Salac, Garcia and Deniz Öncü kept each other entertained right behind them. A handful of other riders including Suzuki, Masia, Artigas, Foggia, Migno, Stefano Nepa and Romano Fenati were still holding onto the leading group, while a second group led by back-row-starter Ayumu Sasaki dropped over 2 seconds behind with 15 laps remaining.
Attacks continued at the front, Öncü taking the lead at the start of lap 10 but Acosta was quick to retrieve top spot by the end of that same lap and the duo continue to battle. However, they soon had company from Masia, the Spaniard making his way into top spot with 12 laps left and the three orange coloured machines got most of the airtime at the halfway point of proceedings.
The cast changed somewhat over the next lap, when shenanigans at turn 2 allowed Artigas to sneak past and claim the lead for a brief moment. Acosta and Öncü were quick to regroup but the returning Tech 3 rider got served with a long lap penalty with 9 laps remaining, for repeatedly exceeding track limits. This dropped him to 11th and Salac soon joined him at the back of the lead group as well, because of an identical penalty.
That left Acosta in the lead but not untroubled, with Artigas and Masia right behind and Garcia and Foggia getting back into the battle, but without Suzuki, who crashed out at turn 1 with 6 laps remaining. Masia started the final six laps ahead of his teammate but only lasted there for one lap, Garcia taking a turn at the front one lap later and Foggia coming to the fore for the first time with 4 laps remaining. As soon as Acosta saw his main rival ahead of him, he attacked for the lead once again and the duo started the final couple of laps as the main contenders for victory but with a reasonably large group still in tow, including Artigas, Garcia, Öncü, Masia and Salac, while Guevara looked out of podium contention after dropping half a second back.
Acosta entered the final lap in control of proceedings but Foggia’s attack at turn 2 involved a bit of contact that ended with the world champion in the gravel trap. It wasn’t a happy ending for Foggia either, the Italian running well wide while making the overtake and letting Artigas and Garcia breeze past and dispute victory. Garcia led the way initially, but Artigas attacked at the final corner and took the chequered flag four hundredths of a second ahead. Garcia and Masia had to make do with the remaining podium positions on home soil, with Salac and Öncü completing the top five. Foggia finished the race in sixth position but received a 3-second penalty for irresponsible riding, which dropped him to 13th and promoted Nepa to 6th place. Guevara, Carlos Tatay, Niccolò Antonelli and back-row-starter Ayumu Sasaki rounded out the top 10, after Migno crashed out of contention on the final lap.
|19||6||Ryusei Yamanaka||KTM||5 Laps|
|37||Pedro Acosta||KTM||1 Lap|
|67||Alberto Surra||Honda||3 Laps|
|24||Tatsuki Suzuki||Honda||6 Laps|
|92||Yuki Kunii||Honda||11 Laps|
|66||Joel Kelso||KTM||19 Laps|
|95||Jose Antonio Rueda||Honda||19 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|20||Lorenzo Fellon||Honda||0 Lap|
|40||Darryn Binder||Honda||0 Lap|