Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) has become the first man this season to win two Moto3™ races, with the Italian holding off Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) to cross the line just 0.045 clear in the Motul TT Assen. Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) took third and his first podium since Brno last year despite a Long Lap Penalty in the latter stages; the Czech rider leading at the time before the last-gasp drama.
It was Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) who took the holeshot from pole, with Arbolino slotting in behind him and the huge freight train group at the front stuck line astern in classic Moto3™ style. One of the biggest moves early on saw Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) take over at the front and keep it through the final chicane, with the Japanese rider leading the pack over the line with 19 laps to go. A few laps later came another key move: Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) was up in the top trio taking on Arbolino and Toba from 13th on the grid, and with 16 to go he sliced through to lead but there was plenty more action to come.
Chopping and changing, the fight for the ‘lead’ remained a huge group stretching far beyond the final chicane as the snake of riders threaded the needle towards the line. But after a battle royal of a shuffle, one moment would change that with six laps to go…
Toba collided with Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46), taking down Raul Fernandez (Angel Nieto Team) on the outside, and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) then got caught up in the drama. That created a gap in the group, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta then at the head of train of just seven riders then battling for the win.
Not long after that, Jakub Kornfeil was the man in charge. Hitting the front with a handful of laps to spare, the Czech rider was in some clear air but track limits were about to bite as he was given a Long Lap Penalty. From then, he had three laps to take it and the race result looked like it could all rest on when he did – or even if, with the team putting the pit board out make sure he definitely saw it as soon as possible.
Luckily, he did, and heading into the area to take it released Lorenzo Dalla Porta into the lead with two laps to go. Could the Italian do it and become the 13th different winner in a row? It was all down to the final lap, and the number 48 machine had a duel on his hands against the man who just beat him to the flag at Mugello: Arbolino. Would he wait for a last gasp move?
The number 14 struck just before the final chicane, cleanly getting past and setting up what would become a drag to the line as the kept it pinned and Dalla Porta tried to respond. Sadly for the Leopard Rider, however, he would once again be the bridesmaid rather than the bride, with Arbolino just a whisker ahead to become the first repeat winner and launch himself into the title fight.
Kornfeil had emerged from his penalty into third, and the Czech rider was able to keep it together to stay ahead of another group fight and cross the line for the podium. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) by half a tenth, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) putting in a stunning ride to complete the top five from outside the top twenty on the grid.
Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) showed more impressive rookie pace to take P6, ahead of Catalan GP winner Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing). Polesitter Antonelli took P8, with Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completing the top ten.
Romano Fenati took P11 after getting shuffled back in the latter stages, ahead of Championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) after a tougher round for him. Nevertheless, he remains seven points ahead. Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) completed the group fighting it out, with Sergio Garca (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completing the points.
Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power), Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) and Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) were other crashers.
Another classic Moto3™ stunner ends the history-maker of a run, but the Championship is even closer than before. Canet is now only seven points ahead of Dalla Porta, with Antonelli 24 points off the top and Arbolino now moving himself up into a close fourth overall. How will the standings look heading into the summer break? Germany will decide, and we race again in less than a week.
Tony Arbolino: “The first part of the race the pace was not so fast, it was easy, but when Jakub and Dalla Porta were out front Vietti touched me in the last corner and I lost one or two seconds, I had to do a 1:42 to catch the group! Then Kornfeil did the long lap so that was maybe a bit easier.
“I think I passed Dalla Porta in the last straight but I think he didn’t try to pass me again because he was thinking about the Championship, so maybe that made it a bit easier. But ok. Second win, I’m happy, work pays off and let’s go at the Sachsenring!”
1 – Tony Arbolino (ITA – Honda) 38’03.113
2 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) +0.045
3 – Jakub Kornfeil (CZE – KTM) +1.562