The long-awaited race day in Indonesia was finally upon us and it was a slightly overcast affair to begin with, but sunshine eventually turned up for the 900th lightweight grand prix in history. The momentous occasion got a worthy winner, Dennis Foggia dominating the 23-lap race on his way to picking up the championship lead, while Izan Guevara resisted pressure from a tough group of contenders to secure second. Poleman Carlos Tatay had the most eventful afternoon of them all but not even a long lap penalty could stop him from taking a maiden podium for his emotional crew.
The surprises started before the race even got underway, when Diogo Moreira had an issue on the sighting lap and instead of starting from second, he was sent to the back of the grid. With the extra breathing room around him, Tatay seemed to make a solid start from pole initially, but Sergio Garcia launched like a rocket from seventh on the grid to lead the way into turn one, ahead of Andrea Migno, who also benefited from the empty grid slot in front of him. Foggia also made early progress to tail the leaders and sneak ahead of the poleman, while front row starter and home hero Mario Aji dropped to 9th early on. Migno attacked at turn 10 before the end of the opening lap to claim the lead from Garcia but that lead was short-lived, as first Foggia and then Guevara breezed past over the next lap.
Guevara went unchallenged until lap four, when Foggia reclaimed top spot and a group of four managed to stretch a bit of a gap, including Migno, Guevara and Garcia, while Tatay led the pursuit from Ayumu Sasaki and Jaume Masia. Another gap soon started to form between Foggia and his chasers, the Italian putting a whole second into the Aspar duo by lap seven, while Migno pushed to get back into podium contention together with the feisty chasing pack including the likes of Tatay and Masia. The strong group managed the catch up with Garcia and Guevara by lap nine, but Foggia was off in the distance, over three seconds ahead. It was a tumultuous couple of laps for Tatay in particular, who dropped to the bottom of the top 10 after running wide and then got a long lap penalty for taking the shortcut at turn nine, which dropped him further to the bottom of the top 15. Front row starter Aji also seemed to struggle in the hot conditions and dropped out of the points by the halfway point of proceedings.
With Foggia out of reach at the front, Guevara tried to get a bit of breathing room over Migno, Sasaki, Masia, Garcia, Deniz Öncü, Dani Holgado and Sasaki – the rookie particularly impressive having started 19th on the grid. The chasers were only six tenths off Guevara, but the frequent exchanges held back the group, the Red Bull KTM men particularly eager to fight. Guevara eventually saw a wheel from teammate Garcia and although he quickly retook second, the Aspar boys had a strong group in pursuit. To make matters worse, the next group was steadily closing in, led by Artigas and Suzuki and featuring a resurgent Tatay. Guevara and Garcia held the provisional podium positions with seven laps to go, but attacks soon started coming from behind, Migno, Öncü and Masia being the main challengers. The exchanges got more hectic with every lap ticked off, but Guevara consistently found his way back into second, while his rivals got another headache when the next group joined the party for the last couple of laps, bringing Tatay back into contention. The poleman swiftly navigated his way through the group, attacking for the final podium position at turn 12, with two laps remaining. Guevara had stretched a seven-tenth advantage by that point and Tatay could not close in while coming under pressure from Garcia and the gaggle of orange bikes.
Foggia barely got any airtime until the final lap, calmly managing a 5-second gap for much of the race and only letting it drop for the final couple of laps to the chequered flag. However, there was little time to join his celebrations as drama unfolded behind him. While pushing to close in on Guevara, Tatay ran wide at turn 10 and allowed Garcia to challenge him for the podium all the way to the finish line, but the poleman managed to just about hold on across the line, ahead of Garcia, Öncü and Artigas. At the same time, turn 10 caused some more trouble right behind, Sasaki tagging the back of Migno and sending the Qatar GP victor flying into the gravel trap. The Italian was unhurt but crashing out of seventh place did cost him dearly in the championship. Masia inherited seventh place, with Elia Bartolini, Holgado and Suzuki rounding out the top 10.
Foggia’s runaway victory secures him the lead in the championship by only one point from Garcia, with Guevara in third, six points down. Migno drops to four, nine points behind the new leader and one ahead of Öncü.
|21||87||Gerard Riu Male||KTM||48.09|