Making history at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon was Leopard Racing’s Jaume Masia as the Spaniard became the 100th different Grand Prix winner for Honda across all classes. Starting from P17, Masia produced a masterclass to eventually beat Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) by 0.091 seconds as Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) bags his maiden Moto3™ podium in P3.
As he did in Le Mans, Championship leader Albert Arenas (Solunion Aspar Team Moto3) was lightning off the start and grabbed the holeshot just ahead of Fernandez into Turn 1. However, Fernandez snapped back almost immediately to take the lead of the race at Turn 4 as Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) battled it out for P3. Instantly, Fernandez threatened to break clear but the Spaniard was slightly wide at Turn 12, as Suzuki grabbed P2 off Arenas on the opening lap. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) highsided out of contention at Turn 13 from the top 10 on Lap 1, the Argentinian was taken to the medical centre for a check-up.
On Lap 3, the leading quartet had broken clear. Fernandez, Suzuki, Arenas and Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), as John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) dived into the Long Lap Penalty lane to serve his punishment for slow riding in Q1 – McPhee went from the top 10 to P17. Binder was trying to bridge the gap to the leading four riders, the South African was sitting P5 and half a second adrift of Fenati’s rear wheel. The likes of Masia, Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3), title contender Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), Vietti and Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) were in the second gaggle.
Binder set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 4 and halfway round Lap 5, Binder made it a 10-wheel fight at the front. The gap behind Binder was 2.2 to Masia and that spelt trouble for the likes Ogura and Vietti who saw Arenas a couple of seconds up the road – huge in terms of the title race. After clawing his way into the lead group, Binder made easy pickings of Fenati and then produced a wonderful move on Arenas, taking the outside route around Turn 1 to have the inside at Turn 2 – lovely stuff from the Barcelona race winner.
Binder was a man on a mission. Suzuki was gobbled up at Turn 16 and Arenas followed Binder through at Turn 17 to demote the Japanese rider to P4, with Binder then showing a wheel to Fernandez at Turn 1 – no way through for now though. On Lap 7, a change of the lead. Binder used the slipstream to absolute perfection to take the lead from Fernandez and further back, Masia was starting to string some good rhythm together. McPhee too was going well, the Scotsman was up to P7 after taking his Long Lap penalty and the gap between Masia and Fenati was down to just 1.3 seconds. The fight at the front was raging, Fernandez was back to P1 but all this was doing was bringing Masia, McPhee and the chasing pack back into contention. On Lap 9, Masia was now under a second away and McPhee was dragging several riders with him – things were about to get tasty in Moto3™.
Lap 10 of 19 reared its head and it was McPhee’s turn to try and reel in the leaders. The title contender was up the inside of Masia at Turn 1 and halfway around the lap, the gap was pretty much nothing from McPhee to fifth place Suzuki. Further back, Ogura was lingering down in P16 – disastrous for the Championship. So then, a lead group of five was now a lead group of nine. McPhee was riding superbly and was up to P5 past Suzuki on Lap 11 as Masia and Alcoba joined the podium scrap. Fernandez was piloting the lightweight class freight train and was mighty in Sector 3, not allowing anyone to get close enough to have a pop at the end of the back straight – and even if they were, Fernandez was awesome on the brakes. However, as of yet, the Spaniard wasn’t able to break clear.
Binder was then alongside Fernandez and took the lead, with the Spaniard then getting swamped by Arenas, Masia and Fenati in a matter of corners with five laps to go. Fernandez bit straight back on Masia and Fenati though as Arenas grabbed P1 from Binder at Turn 12 – a win for Arenas would be massive in the Championship fight with Vietti and Ogura not challenging for the big points. Within a lap though, Fernandez was back to P1. What a scrap for the Moto3™ honours in Aragon and after leading on the back straight, Binder was back to P5.
With four to go, Fernandez started to stretch his legs but the slipstream wasn’t helping the KTM man get away. His pace was stretching the pack slightly though and with three to go, Masia was his closest challenger; Arenas was P3, Binder P4 and McPhee P5. Then, using Honda’s grunt, Masia was P1 down the back straight but once again, Fernandez was back almost immediately at Turn 1 as McPhee ran wide at Turn 1, losing touch on the leading six – Suzuki just behind McPhee. The business end of the race was upon us and Alcoba was up to P3 with two to go, Arenas and Binder were passed and once again, down the back straight, Masia was through on Fernandez.
Last lap time! Masia led but yet again, Fernandez took the baton back at Turn 1. Alcoba was P3 with Arenas P4 as the title leader then ran wide on the exit of Turn 5, how costly could that prove? The kitchen sink was being thrown at this as Alcoba and Masia got very close to comfort into Turn 8, but Fernandez was still leading. Binder went around the outside of Alcoba at Turn 14 to have the inside line at Turn 15, grabbing P3 heading onto the back straight. Masia, tucked into Fernandez’ slipstream then reeled in Fernandez and took P1 away from Fernandez, with Binder also slipstreaming past Fernandez as the latter went from P1 to P3 heading into the final corners. Coming over the crest of the hill, Masia held it to the line to earn his first victory with Leopard Racing from P17 on the grid – a cracking effort from the Spaniard, who doesn’t get demoted one position after being forced to stray on the green stuff on the last lap.
Binder was able to keep P2 to earn his second podium of 2020, Fernandez behind him was ecstatic to seal his maiden World Championship podium despite losing out on a dream victory on the final lap. Fenati rode well to claim P4 as McPhee recovered incredibly well from his Long Lap and Turn 1 excursion to claim P5 – important points for the Championship. Alcoba crossed the line P6 in the end, the rookie again impressing, with Arenas losing out on the last lap to finish P7 – just 0.396 from victory though. That’s the margins you play with in Moto3™.
Suzuki lost touch in the latter stages, the SIC58 rider is still nursing his fractured wrist sustained at Misano, all in all a great effort from Suzuki. Vietti never troubled the leading contenders in Aragon but finishes just a couple of places behind Arenas in P9, not the end of the world for the Italian. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) rounded out the top 10 as the Italian had Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Tatay for company in P11 and P12 respectively. Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) finished a lonely P13, the Japanese rider finishing six seconds ahead of the struggling Ogura. Just two points picked up in Aragon for the man second in the Championship as Ogura slips to 13 behind Arenas. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) picked up the final point at the Aragon GP in P15.
Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Maximilian Kofler (CIP Green Power) crashed out at MotorLand.
Another scintillating lightweight class encounter sees Masia become the 100th Honda rider to win a Grand Prix. Arenas extends his lead in the title race but not by much, as the riders now get set for another MotorLand Aragon battle in seven days’ time.
1. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing)
2. Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) + 0.091
3. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.196
4. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 0.327
5. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.368
6. Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) + 0.385
7. Albert Arenas (Solunion Aspar Team Moto3) + 0.385
8. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 1.933
9. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 2.389
10. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) + 2.461