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Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) produced a superb ride at the Monster Energy Czech Republic Grand Prix to claim his maiden Moto3™ victory. The Italian led over half the race to eventually fend of Championship leader Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team) by two tenths, with second in the Championship Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) finishing an important third.
Launching well off the front row was Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and it was the Argentinian who grabbed the lightweight class holeshot with polesitter Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) slipping to P3, but the best start of all was from Arenas. Starting 7th, Arenas had a blinder and was leading the race at Turn 3 and as Rodrigo got out the seat through Turn 7, the riders behind had to sit up – this gave Arenas a substantial lead as the riders completed the opening lap in Brno.
However, Arenas’ eight-tenth advantage was cut within a lap and a half as the top 15 started to edge clear of 16th place Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) in the opening exchanges. But that gap was also soon diminished as the leading 27 riders were covered by just four seconds. On Lap 5, Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) had a scare on the exit of Turn 4 but the Japanese man stayed upright as the Moto3™ riders settled in for the long haul, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) making headway from P18 on the grid to get firmly in the leading group mix – the Championship protagonists were all in the hunt.
A rider who we expected – but haven’t seen as of yet in 2020 – to be at the front this year then took the baton. Foggia and Ogura had got the better of Arenas but with 12 laps to go, it was way to early to call anything and it was all bubbling up nicely at the Czech Adrenaline Factory – but the pace was dropping as tyre wear was quickly becoming a big factor. On Lap 7, the pack were over a second slower than Jaume Masia’s (Leopard Racing) early fastest lap of the race.
Things started to happen in the final 10 laps. Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) highsided on the exit of Turn 3 on Lap 9, but then drama unfolded for one of the title favourites. The bumpy Turn 10 had looked a troublesome corner for Suzuki for the whole race and with nine laps remaining, the Japanese star was down. The front washed away from underneath him and Suzuki was out of the race, a catastrophe for his title credentials.
With seven laps to go, the top 10 riders were 2.5 clear of 11th place Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power). Foggia was still leading from compatriot Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team), with Masia and McPhee now ahead of Arenas in third and fourth. Just behind the leading five, ready to pounce at any moment, were Ogura, Fernandez, Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) – it was anyone’s to win with five to go.
Heading into the final three laps, Foggia was still holding onto the lead and was looking incredibly strong heading into the braking zones. Arbolino kept looking but couldn’t make anything stick, but then suddenly the latter was at the back of the leading group. Why? The Italian got a good old fairing bashing from Arenas at Turn 1, but he wasn’t out of the equation. Leopard’s Foggia and Masia were then 1-2 but at Turn 11, a disaster for Masia. The Spaniard slipped out of contention with just over two laps to go as Ogura then made his move up into P2 past Arenas as the last lap then started – Foggia led from Ogura and Arenas, Antonelli and McPhee in 4th and 5th.
Ogura then swept through at Turn 3 but Foggia held the outside line and got the cutback into Turn 4, with Arenas then getting a good run down the hill to grab second. Ogura was back up to second moments later though but Foggia was holding firm. Could Ogura make a move at Turn 11? Not quite, but then Arenas shocked the Japanese rider by slotting his KTM up the inside of Ogura at Turn 12. Ultimately, this cost Ogura a chance to get a good run up horsepower hill, with Foggia a good few bike lengths clear. The Italian rounded the final two corners without hassle from behind to take the chequered flag in P1, with Arenas holding on to snatch P2 from Ogura as the top two in the Championship went toe-to-toe on the last lap. What a ride from Arenas, who picks up 20 precious points despite riding with a badly bruised leg after his Andalucia GP crash.
Ogura’s third place was his third podium in four races in 2020 as the Japanese rider remains Arenas’ closest challenger in the overall standings. Antonelli’s P4 was his best ride of the season as the Italian moves himself onto the fringes of the top 10 in the Championship, with McPhee settling for P5. It was a stellar effort from the Scotsman who had to claw his way through the field from P18, the Petronas rider keeps third in the Championship but slips to 19 points adrift of Arenas.
Polesitter Fernandez was a couple of tenths off McPhee to finish sixth for the third race in a row, the Spaniard beats former Junior World Championship rival Alcoba as the duo battled it out in the lead group throughout. Similar to Fernandez, Alcoba has a knack of finishing in the position he did on Sunday in Brno – that’s the third time in four races that the reigning Junior World Champion has claimed P7. Fenati and compatriot Arbolino crossed the line with nothing to choose between them, but it was the latter who just nicked P8 from Fenati’s grasp. The latter still achieves his best result of the season and his first top 10 of 2020, with Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team) getting the better of Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to head the second gaggle of riders over the line in P10.
The Championship battles took another twist in Brno, with Arenas stamping more authority on the lightweight class 2020 title race – but it’s far from over. Coming up is a double-header at the Red Bull Ring and you can bet there’s going to be drama, with Ogura and McPhee eager to claw back the disadvantage.
1. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing)
2. Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team) + 0.205
3. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) + 0.251
4. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.381
5. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.509
6. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.808
7. Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) + 0.889
8. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 1.647
9. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 1.648
10. Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team) + 8.815
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