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After the disappointment of finishing eighth from pole position at the Spanish GP, Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) converted P1 on the grid to P1 in the race at the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucia. The Japanese star led for the majority to eventually hold of second place John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and third place Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46). There was drama in the World Championship however, with Albert Arenas (Soliunion Aspar Team Moto3) and Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) crashing out in Jerez.
Moto3™ Championship leader Arenas suffers nasty crash
Suzuki got the launch he would have been looking for from pole position as the Japanese rider grabbed the holeshot into Turn 1, with Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Ogura exchanging P2 and P3 at Turn 1 and Turn 2 as the riders safely negotiated Lap 1 in Andalucia. A rider who was negotiating the pack efficiently was Darryn Binder on the CIP Green Power KTM. Starting P25 the South African was up to the point-scoring positions on Lap 2, and Binder set two fastest laps in a row to penetrate the top 10 and get himself with the leaders.
Suzuki was hungry to stay at the forefront of the fight. Rodrigo and Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) nibbled at the Japanese rider on a few occasions and despite getting by, Suzuki bit straight back at the first opportunity. Meanwhile, Championship leader Arenas was right in the hunt. And so was second in the Championship Ogura, but disaster then struck for the latter. On Lap 8, Jauma Masia (Leopard Racing) took out Ogura at Turn 9 after tucking the front on the inside line.
At the front, there was a lead group of 10 with 10 laps left. Suzuki still led and was looking good, but there were nine riders all looking good right on his tailpipes. Rodrigo then had another pop at Suzuki and made a Turn 6 move stick – but Suzuki again was back a at the front a few corners later. McPhee had slowly picked off his rivals and was up to third – make that second at Turn 5 with nine laps to go. This was another classic scrap for the win and podium places between the top 10.
Drama for the Championship – again – then followed. With eight laps to go, Arenas had been looking comfortable in the lead group but the Spaniard was down at the fast Turn 11 right-hander. The double 2020 winner took a heavy tumble and headed to the medical centre for a check-up. All this meant the leading two riders in the title race were out, a big opportunity for the likes of McPhee and Suzuki to capitalise.
With six laps to go, Rodrigo was almost down at Turn 9 which gave Suzuki a half-second lead. But within a lap that was diminished as Binder then grabbed P2 from Rodrigo at Turn 5, with Suzuki still leading. It ended up being a six-way scrap for victory in the latter laps as Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) dropped off the pace, as did Fernandez, with birthday boy Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) crashing at Turn 5.
Could anyone get the better of Suzuki then? McPhee was briefly up to second but ran slightly wide at Turn 6 as Binder got back past the Scotsman, before the Petronas rider was up to second at Turn 8. McPhee was looking to make amends for his final corner crash and on the last lap, the leading quintet were line astern. Binder saw an opportunity to pass McPhee for P2 at Turn 5, but the South African ran wide and slipped to fifth. McPhee was sniffing P1 but there was no way past Suzuki – Turn 13 awaited. Surely a lunge was coming but with last week’s disaster imprinted on McPhee’s mind, the 26-year-old didn’t make a lunge. Neither did third place Vietti as Suzuki won the race to the line to pick up his second Moto3™ win. McPhee picked up 20 vital points as Vietti crossed the line third for his fifth lightweight class rostrum.
Binder’s sublime comeback saw him take P4, the KTM rider being promoted after Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) was handed a three-second penalty for ignoring his long-lap penalty in the final stages. Rodrigo settled for P5 after acting as Suzuki’s closest rival throughout, Fernandez picked up P6. Reigning Moto3™ Junior World Champion Alcoba was demoted to P7, with Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and his teammate Ryusei Yamanaka getting the better of Arbolino to round out the top 10.
What does that mean for the Championship? Arenas – who thankfully didn’t break anything in the crash – still leads, but the pack have closed down. Suzuki now sits second six points adrift, with McPhee third on 40 points to Arenas’ 50. Ogura slips down to fourth after his crash as the riders now get set for Brno.
1. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse)
2. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.064
3. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.134
4. Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) + 0.628
5. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) + 0.817
6. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 2.742
7. Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) + 3.315*
8. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 4.853
9. Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 4.887
10. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team)
*3 second time penalty
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