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It’s 50 points from 50 for Moto3™ Championship leader Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) after emerging victorious from the stunning and dramatic lightweight class race at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España. On the last lap, title challenger John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) crashed on the exit of Jorge Lorenzo corner on the final lap as Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) and Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) stand on the Jerez rostrum.
Off the line polesitter Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) got the perfect launch, as did second-place Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) but it wasn’t the same story for McPhee, the Petronas Sprinta Racing rider got swamped and ended up in P8 on the opening lap from P3 on the grid. Turn 1 saw two fallers as Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) and Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) tangled, thankfully unhurt. Back on track, after his great start, Suzuki was off – three-tenths was the Japanese rider’s gap on the opening lap but Migno and the chasing pack were soon to clamber onto the back of the Honda tailpipes.
The riders were line astern but coming down the back straight, it was almost disaster for Arbolino. The Italian was in the slipstream and went to the inside, accidentally caught the grass and the bike spat him out the seat. A scary, scary moment that could have ended more than just Arbolino’s race, but thankfully it was a lucky escape. Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was a man on a mission – back of the grid to P10 on the opening three laps.
Not deterred by the near-crash, Arbolino was the fastest man on circuit as he slotted himself into P2 to split the SKY Racing Team VR46 bikes of leader Celestino Vietti and Andrea Migno, with the top 17 riders split by two seconds – Moto3™ was well and truly back. Vietti was the man who held the lightweight class baton for a number of laps, with Arbolino and Arenas looking feisty behind the number 13 sophomore as the positions inside the top 10 continued to change corner by corner.
With 12 to go, Arbolino led for the first time but soon, reigning Junior World Champion Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Championship leader Arenas were at the front, with CIP Green Power’s Darryn Binder now second from 21st on the grid – something we’re very used to seeing from the South African. After a sluggish start, McPhee was now second behind Arenas – the top two from Qatar – as the riders approached the final 10 laps, with Garcia being handed a long lap penalty for exceeding track limits.
Round 1: MotoE™ Red Bull Grand Prix of Spain
With eight laps remaining it really was anyone’s to win. The top 12 were joined by the hip in a classic Moto3™ encounter, but Arenas was looking strong at the spearhead of the group with P2 changing all the time between McPhee, Arbolino and Binder, with the Red Bull KTM Tech3 bikes of Ayumu Sasaki and Deniz Öncü closing in on the leading group in P13 and P14 – with Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) joining them in reeling in the leading 12. It was all set up for a ferocious final five laps. However, Öncü’s charge was over at Turn 9 as the Turkish rider slid out of contention.
With four to go, McPhee made his move. An aggressive pass on Arenas at Turn 11 was followed by a two for one purchase at Turn 13 on Arbolino and Binder – the Scotsman was meaning business in the closing stages but he wasn’t going to break clear as the top 11 were waiting to pounce. Two left, McPhee led but Arbolino and now Arenas were getting impatient. Down the back straight, Arbolino got the slipstream and took P1 from McPhee, with Binder and Arenas getting close for comfort before Binder crashed out of P3 at Turn 9.
It was all starting to hit boiling point in Jerez. McPhee was back in the lead as the number 17 dived up the inside of Arbolino, who left the door wide open on the penultimate corner. However, down the back straight Arbolino was tucked into the slipstream and made the move going into the Dani Pedrosa corner, with Arenas then getting past McPhee at Turn 9 as Jorge Lorenzo corner – the last corner – awaited. And drama followed. McPhee dived up the inside but ran slightly wide, with Vietti then touching Arbolino on the exit, who in turn made contact with McPhee – the Petronas man could do nothing and crashed with the finish line in sight. Heartache for McPhee.
There was no bother for Arenas though, the Spaniard stayed out of trouble and won the run to the line to win in Jerez – taking another 25-point haul. Ogura had a wonderful final handful of laps to finishing second for his second podium of the season, with Arbolino settling for P3 after going into the last corner first. Migno claimed P4 as he picked up his first points of 2020, as teammate Vietti finished P5 to also earn his maiden points haul of the season. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was a protagonist in the lead group for the entirety as the Spaniard collected P6 after finishing P10 in Qatar, with Suzuki and SIC58 teammate Niccolo Antonelli finishing 8th and 9th despite coming across the line less than a second behind the winner – that’s how close it was again in Moto3™. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) completed the top 10.
So how does that leave the overall standings heading into Jerez next weekend? Arenas extends his lead to 14 points with Ogura leapfrogging McPhee into P2, with the latter remaining P3 despite his crash.
All we can say is wow after that one. We expected nothing less from the Moto3™ riders as they now get set to do it all again at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto in seven days time. Can Arenas continue his 100% win streak in 2020? We’ll find out shortly…
1. Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3)
2. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) + 0.340
3. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 0.369
4. Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.546
5. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.634
6. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.682
7. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) + 0.753
8. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.881
9. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.986
10. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) + 3.646
Click here for the full results!