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In what was one of the best Moto3™ race of the season, Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) took his first win in a frantic, hair-raising last lap slipstreaming contest with countryman Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) and Spanish youngster, Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai). The race, which saw over half a dozen different leaders and many hard passes, went down to the very last lap in traditional Moto3™ style.
With lights out, it was a great start from second on the grid by Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), who got ahead of Tony Arbolino on the run to Turn 1. It was a great start from Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) as he climbed to third from ninth on the grid, whilst John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was also a big improver, up to sixth from 17th. The first crasher was Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) - rider OK.
Having lead a race in every race since COTA, Suzuki soon got himself to the lead, passing Rodrigo and pole-sitter Arbolino. At the end of the lap, a big moment for the Japanese rider coming on to the straight meant he was pushed back down the order. Work to do for Suzuki, although he remained in the leading group.
One rider who didn’t stay in the leading group was Rodrigo, who crashed out of the leading positions at Turn 4. It was a bitter end to the Italian Grand Prix for the Argentine rider, having topped the morning Warm Up and looked strong.
Out front, Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) had worked his way to the front of the field and a well set-up Honda meant that he began to edge clear of his pursuers. Even in the slipstream, Dalla Porta looked untouchable. However, as the race unfolded, small mistakes started to appear. Behind, Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) had also made a bright start and was a demon later-braker.
With ten laps left to run, the chasing pack had caught Dalla Porta and put him under pressure into Turns 11 and 12. Arbolino was able to get ahead but Dalla Porta looked to have him back at the Correntaio corner, almost hitting him, and running wide, losing four more positions. From leading to sixth, Dalla Porta’s hard work hadn’t paid off just yet. However, it was an incredible pass at the final corner from the Italian rider which saw him surge back into the lead.
The following laps ensued, and positions chopped and changed, with slipstreaming and late-braking meaning many riders dropped back before elevating back up the order. However, with the action heating up, mistakes happened, and crashes occurred.
The first notable crash was with five laps to go, when Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) and Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) tangled at the final corner – two previous winners at Mugello down in the gravel. The, half a lap later, Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) suffered a big crash on the exit of Turn 3. All riders were OK, with nothing but their championship hopes taking a blow.
In the closing laps, it really was a lottery. Jaume Masia had replaced Binder as the challenging KTM, whilst fellow KTM rider Aron Canet (Sterilgada Max Racing Team) was placed towards the rear end of the leading group of eight. One rider who had been steadily working away was Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), up from his 18th place grid start and, with the slipstreaming down the straight, often found himself a brief race leader. The Italian was positioned perfectly to fight for the last lap.
As the final lap unfolded, it was an incredible spectacle, as Tony Arbolino lead for the majority of it before a pass at Correntaio from Dalla Porta looked like it would go the way of the Leopard Racing rider – who had a strong top end advantage over his competitors. With a great slingshot out of the final corner, Arbolino slipstreamed Dalla Porta perfectly, the pack weaving across the track all the while to try and halt the slipstream. However, Arbolino had got it right and beat Dalla Porta to the line by a just 0.029s. Jaume Masia was third, whilst Antonelli and Denis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46) completed the top five – Foggia having a relatively quiet race, but nonetheless securing good points.
John McPhee took a well-fought sixth place, ahead of Canet and Suzuki, whilst Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) was the first rider home from outside of the leading group, in ninth. Darryn Binder came home in tenth.
Moto3™ top ten:
1. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers)
2. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) + 0.029
3. Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) + 0.078
4. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.156
5. Dennis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.267
6. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.403
7. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 0.559
8. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.595
9. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 1.566
10. Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) + 1.597