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Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) produced a Champion’s ride to claim his third-straight victory of the season at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix. The 2019 Moto3™ title winner beat rookie Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) – who started from the back of the grid – in an intensely fought lightweight class contest.
Ahead of the race start on the way round to the grid, it was a disaster for Masia as his KTM machine suffered a problem down at Turn 14. Thankfully the Spaniard was able to get going and joined the Warm Up lap, but he would have to surrender his P11 grid slot for a back of the grid launch. Further forward it was SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Tatsuki Suzuki who made the best launch from the front row as the Japanese rider led the Moto3™ pack down the long stretch into Turn 1, but Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) broke latest to grab the holeshot.
There were plenty of chopping and changing for the lead on the opening laps as polesitter Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), Suzuki and the fast-starting Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) jostled for the lead. And it was a fascinating fight at the front, two and a half seconds separated the top 17 in the opening handful of laps before drama unfolded at the front. On Lap 6 Rodrigo held the baton but on the exit of Turn 4, the Argentinian highsided. This left second place man Suzuki with nowhere to go and the leading duo crashed, with Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) unable to avoid one of the stricken Hondas as the Spaniard crashed heavily. Luckily, none of the riders were seriously hurt as the pack got split.
Ramirez had to take avoiding action on the grass and the polesitter lost considerable ground. But teammate and reigning Champion Dalla Porta capitalised on the drama to grab the race by the scruff of the neck. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) was the man in P2 as the leading four of Dalla Porta, Vietti, Arenas and Masia – who had made up eight places at Turn 1 on Lap 1 alone – found themselves with a gap. Slipstream prevailed and the likes of John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Garcia closed the gap to the leading quartet, but Dalla Porta was looking strong at the front. Could anyone stop the Italian from taking his third win in a row? Vietti had the bit between his teeth but the Honda power down the straight wasn’t allowing the KTMs of Vietti, Arenas and Masia to stand a chance against the Honda. With three laps to go there was a group of 10 riders all within a shout of the Sepang rostrum, Dalla Porta leading from Arenas with McPhee making a mistake at the final corner to drop to P8.
Heading onto the last lap, Dalla Porta held the lead down the straight but Vietti made a cracking move into Turn 1. The KTM man led round the fast Turn 3 – but that was Dalla Porta territory. The Champion got great drive into Turn 4 but he was hot, Vietti getting the switchback to keep the lead. Turn 9 – a typical overtaking spot – then shortly followed. Dalla Porta dived for the lead and made it stick, with Arenas and Vietti contact giving the number 48 a half-second advantage. A decisive moment that ultimately handed Dalla Porta the win. Garcia was then hunting second place Arenas into the final corner and, after the latter crashed, Garcia would come home to take his maiden rostrum. Masia’s P3 was simply outstanding. Flat battery to podium for the Mugen Race rider – ride of the day for sure. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) missed out on a second podium of the season by 0.082, Vietti settled for P5 having led on the last lap.
Ramirez’ off-track excursion cost him a chance of victory, the polesitter claimed P6, with McPhee tackling tyre problems to take P7 for Petronas Sprinta Racing at their home GP. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) couldn’t quite get into the rostrum scrap in P8 and P9, with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) rounding out the top 10.
Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) were involved in a Turn 4 incident with nine to go, Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power), teammate Darryn Binder and Stefano Nepa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) also crashed – riders ok.
Three in a row for Dalla Porta sees him assert dominance on the 2019 Moto3™ World Championship. 10 podiums in 2019 has a chance of becoming 11 at the final round in Valencia – see you there in a couple of weeks’ for the last Moto3™ action of 2019.
1. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing)
2. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 0.410
3. Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) + 0.803
4. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) + 0.885
5. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.902
6. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) + 1.095
7. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 1.342
8. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 2.253
9. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) + 3.035
10. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 7.726
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