The 2019 Moto3 World Championship had its seventh race of the season in Barcelona. Despite the race taking place before noon, the track temperature was exceptionally high.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) took the early lead with the holeshot from Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse), although Suzuki was down at turn ten on the first lap with contact with Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team).
By the end of the first lap, it was Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) who was able to come to the front, ahead of Canet and Arbolino. By this point, there was already something of a breakaway group of eleven riders.
This was reduced to ten, however, when Dalla Porta’s Honda expired at the end of lap three. Dalla Porta’s bike let go on the exit of turn thirteen, and the pack behind was lucky to avoid the luckless Italian.
There was then a pileup in turn four, involving both Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team riders, Albert Arenas and Raul Fernandez, as well as Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Filip Salac (Redox PruestelGP), Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) and Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0). This didn’t change the leading order too much, but it created some gaps in the field, with the front group now a distinctive thirteen, with Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse) and Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0) just off the back.
Tony Arbolino hit the front with eleven laps to go. He then gave up the lead immediately as he ran out wide in turn three. It was a strange moment, as he sat up in the middle of turn three, and cruised round the outside of it. It looked like a bike problem, but he was back in the race moments later, although behind his teammate, Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers). One lap later, though, Arbolino was out.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) and Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) had looked strong throughout the race, especially Rodrigo who started from pole position. However, they were both out at turn ten on the penultimate lap when they made contact.
Onto the final lap, it was all to play for, but Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) had the advantage. He crashed, though, at turn ten, and almost immediately after John McPhee (Petronas SRT) gave up his chance at the podium as he made an attempt to impersonate Randy Mamola, being high-sided by his Honda, but holding onto it. Toba was out, but McPhee’s incredible effort to stay on the bike earned him three points.
In the remaining four corners, no one was able to challenge Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) who inherited the lead after Toba’s crash. Aron Canet had a go a passing Ramirez into the final corner, but Ramirez’ entry speed was too much for the #44, who remained second. Ramirez’ first win comes at one of his home Grands Prix. Although an Andalusian, to take his first victory in Spain will be a special point in the #42’s career. It has not been a stunning season so far from Ramirez who re-joined the team with whom he fought for the 2016 CEV Moto3 Junior World Championship, but this could prove an important moment in his season, as he became the twelfth winner in as many races in the lightweight class.
Whilst Canet was unable to make the move into the final corner, he was able to finish second and extend his championship lead, taking profit from the misfortune of his rivals, Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) who crashed in an incident with Darryn Binder; Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Tony Arbolino, all of whom did not score.
Although the lead did not change in the final corner, Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) was able to pass Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) in turn fourteen. This gave Vietti his second podium of 2019 and the third of his career. Unfortunately for Lopez, it came at the cost of a home race rostrum for the #21. After having his podium in Jerez last season taken away thanks to a post-race penalty, Lopez’ emotional response in the garage after the race to losing third place in the 2019 Catalan GP was understandable. However, it was a strong ride from the Spaniard, who led for much of the race and had some strong pace – arguably the strongest of the field.
Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) was able to recover from thirtieth on the grid to finish fifth which equals his best result of the season of last time out in Mugello.
Ai Ogura made a bad start from the front row of the grid, but was able to recover and finished sixth, which is the best result in the World Championship for the rookie. Romano Fenati took seventh place, his best result of the season, ahead of Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas SRT), wildcard Ryusei Yamanaka and Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) who came from twenty-second on the grid to round out the top ten.
Niccolo Antonelli spent much of the final portion of the race contesting the lead, but a mistake at turn one with three laps to go dropped the Italian down the order. He was recovering, and was inside the top ten halfway round the final lap, but at turn seven made a mistake which once again dropped him back. In the end, Antonelli took eleventh place, ahead of the wildcard Carlos Tatay (Fundacion Andreas Perez 77) who took his first GP points in twelfth; the aforementioned John McPhee; Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power) who took his first points in the World Championship and Darryn Binder who got back on after his crash with Rodrigo for the final point in fifteenth.
Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) was unlucky, as he clipped the rear wheel of Ramirez in the closing the stages at turn ten. Ramirez had contact with another rider, and Masaki had nowhere to go when the Spaniard backed out of the throttle. Eventually, Masaki came back for sixteenth, ahead of Riccardo Rossi (Kommerling Gresini Moto3), Vicente Perez and Tatsuki Suzuki.
Such a crazy race had a number of retirements, the first being Dalla Porta. He was followed out by the riders involved in the turn four pileup: Arenas, Garcia, Fernandez, Oncu, Migno and Salac, although the latter three all got back on before retiring later on. Arbolino was the next to go, before Masia dropped out. Then it was Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) to fall, before Rodrigo’s incident with Binder took him out, and Toba’s final lap crash.
Featured image courtesy of Hondanews.eu