The plucky lightweight class closed a pretty fantastic Sunday in Texas with quite a performance of their own. After making the wrong kind of headlines in Argentina, Jaume Masia and Andrea Migno turned things around to become the main contenders in Austin, the duo battling for victory until the penultimate corner where the Spaniard sealed the deal on a first victory in over a year. Migno going all in at turn 19 ended up losing him another position to Dennis Foggia, who picked up the lead in the championship alongside second in the race. Poleman Migno was happy enough with third, after a difficult couple of weekends.
The polesitter had made a solid start to lead into turn one, with rookie Diogo Moreira in tow after a great launch from row two but some fairly predictable early contact allowed Deniz Öncü to swoop into the lead by the end of the opening lap. The Turkish rider didn’t go unchallenged for long, Moreira attacking on a few occasions to claim the lead by lap 2, with Migno and Xavier Artigas sniffing around the duo as well. Daniel Holgado, Ayumu Sasaki and a fast-starting Ivan Ortolá kept close in the top 8, while Foggia was pushing to recover some of the ground he lost early on, finding himself at the back of the top 10 on lap three, ahead of Masia, the quickest man on track in the early laps. The trouble started early for the Aspar duo, Sergio Garcia relegated back to 12th after a good start had brought him into the top 10 early on, while Izan Guevara swiftly got a double long lap penalty for a jump start.
Back at the front, Öncü had another go at securing the lead on lap four but again it was short-lived, Artigas taking over at turn 12 and holding onto top spot for a couple of laps. The exchanges continued between Öncü, Moreira and Artigas, while Sasaki kept close but seemed to observe the situation from a safe distance for the time being. However, all eyes were behind the leading foursome, where Garcia's comeback ended in a crash out of fifth place while teammate Guevara served his penalty and dropped to 12th, in a tough 60 seconds for their team. Also amongst the leading group, Holgado slid out at turn 20 by the end of that same lap.
While cameras were trying to figure out what happened to the now-former championship leader, Masia had squirreled his way into the lead of the race at the start of lap eight, with Sasaki making some progress to take second from the feisty trio of previous leaders. Foggia also started to pick up the pace and climbed into sixth, ahead of Migno, with a two second gap keeping the poleman ahead of the next group led by Tatsuki Suzuki, Stefano Nepa and Ortola.
After a brief interruption from Sasaki, Masia resumed the lead going into the second half of the race, at the front of a 7-man group including Sasaki, Öncü, Foggia, Moreira, Migno and Artigas. Once Foggia managed to find a way past an inventive Öncü, the Italian hit the front for the first time with seven laps remaining but could not escape the group and was constantly under threat from Masia. The Spaniard’s attack with four laps remaining reclaimed him the lead and dropped Foggia to fourth, behind Migno and Sasaki. Artigas, Öncü and Moreira were still holding onto the lead group but were kept out of the podium battle for the final few laps. Meanwhile, Guevara made progress to lead the second group, about four seconds behind the leaders.
Masia’s lead was challenged by Migno several times with three laps remaining, the exchanges allowing the rest of the group to close the small gap that had stretched between them. The poleman started the final lap in the lead and shut all the doors he could find but was defenceless on the back straight and Masia came up on top by turn 12. Although Migno had another try at turn 19, the Italian ran wide and allowed Foggia to rob him of second place too. The Leopard rider did not get to feature in the last lap victory battle after getting roughed up by Öncü and Sasaki in the final couple of laps, but still managed to claim second. Sasaki missed out on the podium by nine hundredths of a second, with Öncü fifth, another six tenths back. Brilliant rookie Moreira was unlucky to crash out of sixth position at the final corner before starting the final lap, allowing Artigas to inherit sixth. Guevara recovered well from the early penalty to take seventh place, with Tatay, Riccardo Rossi and Suzuki rounding out the top 10 positions.
Foggia’s recovery and Garcia’s misfortune put the Italian back into the lead of the world championship by 16 points from the Spaniard, with Migno climbing into third, 33 points down. Guevara holds onto fourth, another four points back.
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