Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) took an impressive victory in the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, getting back on the top step for the first time since Qatar 2016 and back on the podium for the first time since Motegi in 2017. The win marks a milestone first ever victory for the SIC58 Squadra Corse team, and Antonelli’s teammate Tatsuki Suzuki took his first podium to made it double delight and a 1-2 for the team. The historic result for the squad, run by late MotoGP™ Legend Marco Simoncelli’s father Paolo, is also an emotional one as it comes on the 15th anniversary of Marco Simoncelli’s first Grand Prix win, taken on the 2nd May in the 125cc race in the 2004 Spanish GP. Rookie Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) joined the two SIC58 Squadra Corse machines on the podium for his second ever rostrum finish.
Suzuki took the holeshot from middle of the front row and was a threat from the off, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) losing out from pole as the Japanese rider immediately set about putting pedal to the metal, initially able to create a small gap. But, as ever in Moto3™, the fight at the front then became a freight train.
A group of 10 made up that front group initially, with some key names out of contention early on. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) went down, tagging Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), although the latter stayed on – and then Championship leader Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubia) was suddenly out at Turn 2.
Back at the front, Suzuki was starting to get reeled in by Dalla Porta and the Italian didn’t waste time once he’d caught the SIC58 Squadra Corse rider, striking with 19 to go. By then, Antonelli was in P3 but the squabble continued throughout the group and Vietti was next to take his turn at leading. The final corner created spectacular shuffle after shuffle, and the group expanded as the laps ticked down – with 19 riders then creating a long snake of Moto3™ talent stretching much of the main straight.
More drama made sure to shake it up again, however. Antonelli was leading as he seemed to suffer a moment and the rider following him – Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) – got caught out, going straight down and the pack miraculously avoiding the stricken Honda. Not everyone could avoid the consequences though as two-time Jerez winner Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) ran on as he steered clear. If that wasn’t enough, rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) then crashed and collected Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Sergio Garcia – leaving a top group of ten.
By the final lap a trio head emerged as the favourites. Antonelli led Vietti led Suzuki, and the Japanese rider was the man playing his cards first. As it would turn out, it was the final hand of the race – his move past Vietti created a little space for leader Antonelli and the number 23 just had to keep his nerve round the final corner.
That he did, crossing the line for his first win of the year and fourth overall, making his team Grand Prix winners and moving himself up to second in the Championship – just one point off new leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). Suzuki was able to keep second for his first podium, ahead of a second rostrum for rookie Vietti, who now leads the Rookie of the Year standings by a huge margin.
Canet took P4 and a solid points haul to put him at the top of the Championship standings, ahead of a stunner from Albert Arenas as he returned from injury in fifth. Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) pipped Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) to sixth, ahead of poleman Dalla Porta. Rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) took ninth and his first ever Grand Prix top ten after knocking on the door since the start of the season, with Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) taking tenth.
After serving a Long Lap Penalty for exceeding track limits, Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) took P11, ahead of Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power), John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) in his first points finish of the season and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0).
Next up it’s Le Mans and another chance to reset for some and turn the screw for others – with Canet now ahead of the pack but the likes of SIC 58Squadra Corse arriving on a roll. Don’t miss the French GP on the 19th May.
1 – Niccolo Antonelli (ITA – Honda) 39’30.327
2 – Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN – Honda) +0.242
3 – Celestino Vietti (ITA – KTM) +0.305