There’s no place like home and in front of the loud, proud and partisan crowd at Mugello, polesitter Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) pitched it to perfection to pip compatriot Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) to the line in the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley, winning his first Grand Prix by just 0.029 in a classic Moto3™ melee. Behind the home duo, Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) left it late to make his charge for the front, completing the podium in third and still within hundredths of the win.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) got the best start off the front row, but Arbolino was quick to hit back and the Italian took over at the front through Turn 1 as Rodrigo headed a bit wide and the battle began. One serious mover off the start proved John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) as the Brit shot up from 17th on the grid into the top five, but as is always the case at Mugello it was a group affair at the front.
Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Rodrigo, Dalla Porta, McPhee and Arbolino were the key names at the sharp end as the squabbling began, but there was early heartbreak for one not long after as Rodrigo crashed out. That created a bit of breathing space for Dalla Porta, Arbolino and Suzuki but it didn’t take long for it to re-form into a group.
With 14 laps to go, Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was the man on the move. Starting down in P18 after having his fastest Q2 lap cancelled on Saturday, the Italian had crossed the line at the end of Lap 1 even further down the order in P21. But lap by lap he moved forward, set a fastest lap and was the man leading the second group before breaking away from it and catching those ahead. At the same time, it looked like Dalla Porta had managed to break away in the lead although it wasn’t for long.Ttwo laps later Arbolino had reeled him in and it was game on with 18 riders in the freight train at the front.
Home heartbreak then hit for Migno and Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) as they crashed out the group, before Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) also went down and took Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) with him. With three laps to go the front group had been whittled down further as eight riders broke free: Dalla Porta, Arbolino, Antonelli, McPhee, Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), Suzuki, Masia and Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), and the action ratcheted up a notch once again.
Masia made his serious lunge for the front at Turn 1 on the final lap, surging through to challenge for the lead from third but the man who’d led for much of the race – Dalla Porta – was ready to fight for it and reasserted his authority. But by the final sector Arbolino was clear of Masia too, and from there it was a classic Mugello drag to the line…
Pulling out just at the right time and side by side with Dalla Porta on the blast to the chequered flag, it was incredibly close but Arbolino just managed to edge ahead– ‘just’ translating into 0.29 on the timesheets. Masia took third just 0.078 back, with Antonelli gaining an incredible 14 places on his grid position to cross the line in P4 at his home Grand Prix and put in some serious damage limitation in the Championship.
Foggia completed the top five ahead of McPhee, with points leader Aron Canet losing some ground in the standings as he crossed the line in P7, ahead of Suzuki by the flag. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) was top rookie and took ninth, ahead of Darryn Binder as the South African was one to lose out big when crashes shuffled the group.
Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) took P11, beating teammate Albert Arenas and Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) in a three-way fight, with Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) and Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) completing the points.
Moto3™ return at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in two weeks – will Canet keep the reins on home turf or will it be all change again? Six different winners in a row is the record so far in 2019…and it’s 11 stretching back to the flyaways last season.
1 – Tony Arbolino (ITA – Honda) 39’29.874
2 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) +0.029
3 – Jaume Masia (SPA – KTM) +0.078