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After threatening for a long time, Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) finally bagged his first Grand Prix victory with a superb ride in the Moto3™ race at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya. The South African beats Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) to the line as the Italians join Binder on the rostrum, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) crashing out together at Turn 4 in the early stages, while Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) finished outside the top 10 for the first time in 2020.
Polesitter Arbolino launched perfectly as the red lights went out and despite a huge run down into Turn 1, the Italian held off the fast-starting Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and now former Championship leader Arenas for the holeshot. From P5 on the grid, Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) dropped outside the top 10 but further back, Ogura made a storming start from P24 – the man second in the title race was up to P14.
Arbolino led the opening couple of laps but it was slipstream city down the front straight heading onto Turn 3 and it was Arenas who led, with Binder was up into P2, Arbolino dropping to P4 in a matter of seconds. The lead changed again on the following lap, again the slipstream coming into effect as Rodrigo then led from McPhee – but it was changing constantly, lap by lap, on the long run down into Turn 1 as the top 19 were split by just 2.3 seconds heading onto Lap 5.
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Huge Moto3™ drama as title leader Arenas taken out by McPhee
Lap 6 was then a huge moment for the World Championship. Heading into Turn 4 McPhee was up the inside of Arenas as the pair sat P2 and P3, but the British rider then tucked the front as he was in slightly too hot. In his path was Arenas on the outside. Wrong place, wrong time for the Spaniard, and two title contenders were down and out of the race in the opening stages – a huge opportunity for everyone to try and propel themselves into the title fight, with second in the Championship Ogura getting told via his pit board that both of his closest Championship contenders were out.
This left Arbolino leading Binder as the lead group of six formed, with Rodrigo, Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Masia and Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) leading the chasing pack – led by Filip Salac (Rivacold Snipers Team) by a second. That gap was quickly being bridged by Foggia and Salac though as the duo set lap times that were over half a second quicker than the guys ahead. Further back, after a rapid start, Ogura had stalled. The title contender was P15 with 11 laps to go and got a simple message from his team: “Attack”. P15 wouldn’t be enough for Ogura to take the Championship baton from Arenas, and Ogura was in the group that was sitting 1.5 seconds behind the leaders.
At the front, the group had grown again. It was now a 22-wheel fight with Binder retaking the lead into Turn 1, after Masia had taken turn leading for a lap. But, as previously stated, it was changing constantly and with nine laps remaining, Ogura in P15 was now starting to get into the gaggle of riders all line astern in the fight for victory. Foggia then hit the front for the first time at Turn 10 with eight laps to go, but Binder then led at Turn 1. The freight train was now stretching from P1 to P20, just over three seconds covering the lot of them, with Ogura P15 still.
With five laps on the clock, we had a Leopard 1-2 at the front. Foggia had found himself with a 0.3 cushion but Masia, grabbing P2 on the run into Turn 1, soon closed that up as the light blue missiles led Arbolino, Garcia, Rodrigo and the rest over the line with four laps to go. Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was handed a long-lap penalty which dropped him out the points, with Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) also being handed a long-lap in the final stages as the rookie sat on the fringes of the top 10. That changed to a double long-lap for the rookie after failing to comply with the first offence.
With two to go, Foggia was looking very strong at the front. Masia had dropped to fifth after Binder made a move stick on the Spaniard at Turn 4 before Masia got his Honda crossed up into the Turn 4 braking zone. Masia just about kept it on the asphalt but that was his podium hopes gone. Foggia led over the line on the last lap and, crucially, led into Turn 1. The first passing opportunity had been and gone for second place Binder, but opportunity knocked at Turn 5 for the KTM rider and Binder was up the inside of Foggia. A clean, slick move from Binder saw him take the lead as Foggia lost two places in one corner, Arbolino slicing up the inside of his compatriot to chase Binder. Turn 10 then reared its head – who was last of the late brakers? We’ve seen drama there in recent times, but Binder was solid and held P1. Then, unless Arbolino could channel his inner Valentino Rossi, the race was pretty much done. Binder was fast through the final sector and Arbolino thought about a final corner move, but there was no way through. Binder strolled across the line to take a memorable first Grand Prix victory on the circuit he picked up his first Grand Prix points on. Brilliant Binder proved unbeatable in Barcelona.
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Round 9: Moto3™ Monster Energy Catalan Grand Prix
Arbolino picked up his third podium of the season to bring himself right into title contention. The Italian moves up to P4, just three points behind McPhee and 27 off new title leader Ogura. Foggia lost out on a potential second win of the season on the last lap but the Italian was happy to return to the podium for the first time since the Czech GP, he held off Garcia to the line as the Spaniard claims his best result of the season in P4. Another Spaniard picking up their best result of the season was fifth place Lopez. It was a great rider from the Husqvarna rider to finish just three tenths from victory – a first top 10 of the campaign and a best finish since his podium in Thailand last year.
Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) backed up his Emilia Romagna GP victory with a solid P6, the Italian benefitting from two last lap penalties imposed on Masia and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46). The two exceeded track limits at Turn 9 and were handed a one-place penalty, seeing Fenati finish ahead of both – P7 for Masia, P8 for Vietti. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Rodrigo completed the top 10, with Ogura having to settle for P11.
The Japanese rider claims the Championship lead though, Ogura leads the way by three points heading to Le Mans as the Moto3™ title race takes another huge twist at the Catalan GP. 28 points now separate Ogura to fifth place Vietti heading to the second of three triple-headers – it’s game on in the lightweight class. Thankfully, McPhee and Arenas were both ok – although somewhat miffed – after the Turn 4 crash.
Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Jose Julian Garcia (SIC58 Squadra Corse) crashed together at Turn 4, riders ok, with Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) and Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) being forced to retire. Davide Pizzoli (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy) also crashed – rider ok.
So that’s it from Barcelona in the Moto3™ class, yet more drama unfolding as we now have seven winners in nine races this year. The French GP is up next, expect things to take another turn at the legendary Le Mans layout.
1. Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power)
2. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 0.103
3. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) + 0.157
4. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 0.232
5. Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 0.386
6. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 1.436
7. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) + 1.218*
8. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 1.293*
9. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 1.928
10. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) + 1.932
*1 place penalty for exceeding track limits on the final lap
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