Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) took a huge step towards the Moto3™ World Championship title after claiming a stunning victory at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. The Italian came from P6 on the grid to claim his second win of the season as main title rival Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) crashed out, with Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) completing the podium.
Home hero Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) got the holeshot from P3 on the grid to lead Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) into Turn 1 and the Japanese rider was untroubled at the front for the opening exchanges. Both Dalla Porta and Canet got average starts from 6th and 8th on the grid, but the duo slowly made their way towards the front and on Lap 9, Dalla Porta was leading. Your top five at this point included Dalla Porta, Suzuki, rookie Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Arenas and Canet.
However, Canet seemed to be struggling slightly to keep up with the pace. A couple of mistakes saw him drop to sixth as the top four then created a half-second gap to Vietti, Canet and John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing). Trying to make up time, with Dalla Porta controlling the race from the front, Canet was pushing. But, with seven laps to go, that pushing became too much for Canet’s front tyre. At Turn 9, the Spaniard crashed out – colossal for the 2019 Moto3™ Championship as Canet pulled into the pits, with third in the title race Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) also crashing out midway through the race. The Italian was stretched off at Turn 5 after making a fantastic recovery from P27 on the grid, cruel luck for Arbolino.
Dalla Porta immediately got the signal from his team: “44 OUT”. Would that see Dalla Porta back off? No chance. The Italian was in the zone and looked incredibly comfortable at the front. Second place Suzuki showed his wheel on a number of occasions but Dalla Porta bit straight back. On the last lap, Dalla Porta led from Suzuki and Arenas, with Garcia and Vietti also well in the hunt for the podium. Arenas made his move on Suzuki at Turn 7, a nice move from the Thai GP winner, who then had his sights set on Dalla Porta. The Leopard man wasn’t showing signs of pressure though and down the back straight, it was his to lose. Dalla Porta ran slightly wide at the tight Turn 11 trying to defend any late lunges but it didn’t matter, he rounded victory corner to fend off Arenas, extending his Championship lead to 47 over Canet.
A few metres behind, it was late heartbreak for home hero Suzuki. Running first or second for pretty much the entire race, Vietti made a classy sweeping move up the inside at Turn 13 to snatch the final podium spot behind Arenas. No dream Japanese GP podium for the SIC58 rider, but it was once again another great ride from Suzuki. Vietti’s podium was his third of the season, with Garcia grabbing his best result of the season with a magnificent P5. McPhee had a lonely final few laps in P6, the Scotsman having a decent ride after starting from P11 in Japan. Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) threatened the top five scrap before a mistake at the final corner with nine to go ended his hopes of a podium, the Spaniard finishing P7. Leopard Racing’s Marcos Ramirez by a tenth, with front row starter Lopez slipping down the order to eventually take P9. Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) closed out the lightweight class top 10.
A dramatic first lap saw Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) and Kömmerling Gresini Moto3™’s Gabriel Rodrigo crash at Turn 4, thankfully both riders were ok, with Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power) crashing down the straight shortly after – rider ok.
A huge day in the Moto3™ Championship scrap sees Dalla Porta take a commanding points lead into Australia. 75 points remain on the table with 47 now Dalla Porta’s advantage, but it’s not over yet. The Team Championship is over though, Dalla Porta and Ramirez’ top 10s mean Leopard Racing are 2019 Champions. The rider’s title rumbles on to Phillip Island, a track that is sure to throw up yet more surprises in a week’s time!
1. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing)
2. Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) + 0.094
3. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.198
4. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Sqaudra Corse) + 0.289
5. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 0.437
6. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 3.648
7. Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) + 7.225
8. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) + 7.382
9. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 8.172
10. Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) + 12.054
Click here for the full results!