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Rookie Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) took a stunning maiden Moto3™ victory thanks to a last corner pass on Andrea Migno at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. A breakaway group of seven riders battled for victory in a red-flagged lightweight class race as wildcard Xavier Artigas claimed a phenomenal debut rostrum on board his Leopard Impala Junior Team machine.
Before the riders had even got to the grid, there was big drama. On the sighting lap at Turn 6, home favourite Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) suffered an issue with his KTM machine as the Valencia-born crashed. Due to fluids dropped, the start of the race was delayed, with a five-minute re-start procedure put in place ahead of 11:11 lights out.
The race then started and it was Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) who got the holeshot from the front row, heading Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) but Masia’s race would end prematurely. Turn 4 saw the Spaniard highside out of the race - leaving him with a dislocated shoulder - which left Ramirez with a handy lead, 0.7 on the opening lap and over a second to polesitter Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) on the second, before a multiple rider incident occurred a little further behind on Lap 2. 2019 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) lost control of his KTM at Turn 11, which left reigning Moto3™ Junior World Champion Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Dennis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46), who hit Tatay’s stricken KTM as the bike came back across the circuit, with nowhere to go. Foggia suffered a vicious crash as the red flags immediately came out, with the Italian receiving immediate treatment trackside before heading to hospital for further checks. The others were back on their feet as Race Direction confirmed all riders – including Foggia - were thankfully conscious after the crash, with the race being restarted under the Quick Restart Procedure, 15 laps were the distance.
Lights out for the restart and Migno was the man to lead the field into the first corner from Ramirez as the top six of Migno, Ramirez, Garcia, Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Canet – who was allowed to start P4 – and Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) immediately broke over a second clear. Further back on Lap 4 there was a big crash for four riders in the chasing pack: 2019 Champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta highsided his Leopard Racing Honda at Turn 4 which left Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) with nowhere to go – thankfully all riders were ok.
Another pile-up in Moto3™ as Dalla Porta flies out
Meanwhile, wildcard Artigas was rapidly making progress and the young Spaniard soon reeled in the leading six riders to make it a seven rider scrap for the lead. And with six to go, Artigas had picked off his more experienced rivals to lead for the first time. Then, the pack started to stretch as Artigas landed the fastest lap of the race, with Migno, Suzuki and Garcia managing to stick with him. Salac was just hanging on half a second back but it seemed as if the podium fight was over for Ramirez and Canet. With four to go, Artigas’ dream victory was well and truly on as Migno and Garcia viciously scrapped for P2. Then, with two laps remaining, Artigas was wide at Turn 1, allowing Garcia and Suzuki to pass but then all three were wide at Turn 2, allowing Migno to slide his way to the forefront. The chopping and changing had allowed Salac to join the fight, making it a quintet scrap for victory in Valencia.
Polesitter Migno, going in search of his first win since the 2017 Italian GP, led onto the final lap, with Garcia, Artigas, Suzuki and Salac – in that order – close in pursuit. Smelling a maiden Grand Prix win, Garcia dived up the inside of Migno at Turn 2 but the Italian was back underneath at Turn 3. Turn 4 – a popular passing place then saw the lead change again with Garcia dicing his way back to P1, before Migno again had the batton at Turn 5. Suzuki was through on Artigas at Turn 11 as Migno held the lead coming around the sweeping, downhill left hander. But Garcia was coming. The Spaniard lined up a pass and made it stick into the last corner, with Artigas doing the same on Suzuki just metres behind. Would Garcia hold it on the run to the flag? Yes, but only just! 0.005 split Garcia and Migno on the line while Artigas held off Suzuki for the final podium place, Salac taking home his best ever result in P5.
The result is the first time a European Talent Cup Champion has stood on a Grand Prix podium, Artigas to claim that accolade. Garcia ends the season in perfect fashion, Migno now heads to SKY Racing Team VR46 brimming with confidence. Losing touch in the latter stages, Canet’s final Moto3™ race ended with a P6 in front of his home fans. After the troubles he had ahead of the race, both Canet and the team will be pleased with that result, which sees him finish as 2019 Moto3™ runner-up. Ramirez slipped back with Canet to finish P7 on his last Moto3™ ride, the duo both making the leap up to Moto2™ in 2020, with Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) picking up Moto3™ Rookie of the Year thanks to his P8 finish. Yurchenko, after being caught up in the red-flag incident, pocketed P9 – his second top 10 of the year – while Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) took home P10.
Valresa Angel Nieto Team’s Albert Arenas and Raul Fernandez crashed separately at Turn 5 – riders ok.
Wow. What a hugely dramatic, crazy and awesome way to end the 2019 season as we see a first-time winner and first-time podium finisher in Valencia. What will 2020 bring?
1. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
2. Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) + 0.005
3. Xavier Artigas (Leopard Impala Junior Team) + 0.180
4. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.246
5. Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) + 0.328
6. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 3.016
7. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) + 3.032
8. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 9.666
9. Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) + 9.747
10. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) + 9.859
1 year ago