Beautiful Barcelona deserved to start the day with a good old Moto3 scrap and the Spanish flag got put to good use at the end of a closely-fought 21-lap race, after Izan Guevara made a very late escape to secure victory on home soil. If the Spaniard was a familiar sight in parc fermé, David Muñoz enjoyed the views from the podium for the first time in only his second Grand Prix start, after putting in a fantastic performance to recover from 20th on the grid and climb onto the second step of the podium. Tatsuki Suzuki secured back to back podiums after a last-lap final-corner move on the championship leader.
The start of the action had some different contenders at the front, with Dennis Foggia making a great start from pole to lead the way ahead of Guevara, while Riccardo Rossi and Sergio Garcia jumped ahead of front row starter Deniz Öncü. Having started 10th on the grid, Suzuki was immediately in the mix for the top five, while Jaume Masia lost even more ground from 14th on the grid, dropping down to 18th on the opening lap.
Although he had a sizeable leading group in tow, Foggia was untroubled for the first couple of laps, as the Aspar duo kept each other entertained behind him. Foggia was soon accompanied by his own teammate for assistance but as soon as Suzuki got to the front on lap four, the spotlight turned to the squabble between him and Guevara for the lead of the race. The two traded top spot countless times over the next couple of laps but then Garcia had a go at the lead heading into turn one on lap six.
The Aspar and Leopard Racing duos continued to be in the limelight, all four men taking turns at the front, but they still had a massive group in tow. The exclusive party was spoiled on lap seven, when Foggia had to retire with mechanical issues – back-to-back DNFs making a serious dent in his title bid. That left teammate Suzuki alone to fend off the Aspar machines, but he also had new rivals to contend with, the likes of Öncü and Ryusei Yamanaka spicing things up in the leading group of 20 men, which also included replacement rider David Salvador, rookie sensation Muñoz and a resurgent Masia. Unfortunately, Salvador did not get to enjoy the best kind of airtime as he was soon tagged by Yamanaka at turn 10 and the incident also took Dani Holgado out of contention. The incident not only reduced the leading group, but it also caused a split amongst the contenders, with Suzuki, Guevara, Öncü, Garcia, Muñoz, Adrian Fernandez and Masia stretching a 1.5 second advantage ahead of the pursuit led by Kaito Toba.
Back at the front, it was the turn of Öncü and Muñoz to have an opportunity to lead the race at the halfway point of proceedings but the achievement was short-lived as Guevara and Masia reclaimed control, but the frequent exchanges at the front allowed the chasers to bridge the gap, with Toba, John McPhee, Rossi, Joel Kelso, Carlos Tatay and Xavier Artigas back in the mix – a third group less than a second back with 8 laps to go.
Guevara made what eventually proved to be the decisive move at turn one with seven laps remaining, quickly stretching a gap of half a second. Fully aware of his teammate’s pace, Garcia quickly made his way to the front of the pursuit and went unchallenged for a couple of laps, allowing him some time to reel in the leader, but he struggled to get within half a second of Guevara. With Guevara setting a rapid pace at the front, only Garcia, Muñoz and Suzuki seemed able to just about keep up with three laps remaining, while Öncü, Masia & Co dropped almost a second behind. Despite Guevara’s gap rarely growing too much over half a second, moments at turns 5 and 10 for Garcia on the penultimate lap suddenly allowed his teammate one second of breathing room going into the final lap.
While Guevara enjoyed his escape at the front, Garcia was under attack from both Muñoz and Suzuki, the trio continuing to squabble until the chequered flag. Muñoz made his move for second place at turn one and then defended beautifully to secure the position, while a desperate dive at the final corner from Suzuki demoted Garcia off the podium. Öncü crossed the finish line some seven tenths of a second later, taking sixth place ahead of McPhee, Masia and Rossi, although the Italian was soon demoted to 11th position for failing to comply with a long lap penalty, which promoted Fernandez and Artigas to the top 10. Guevara’s joy on home soil also helped him reduce the gap to Garcia in the world championship standings to 16 points, while Masia drops 47 points back and Foggia a painful 55.
|64||Mario Suryo Aji||Honda||14:43.7090|