Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) has taken back the Championship lead in the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, fighting it out at the front throughout a classic, chaotic Moto3™ race to come home a tenth and a half ahead of key rival Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing). The two men remain only three points apart at the top of the standings, just with the roles now reversed. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) completed the podium from pole ahead of Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai), although it was the man in fifth who stole the headlines as Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) took an awesome P5 from pitlane.
Arbolino got the holeshot from pole, with some immediate drama hitting the pack off the line: John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) suffered an issue from second on the grid, the Scot left slow in the field and those behind forced into avoiding action. Most succeeded, but wildcard Yuki Kunii (Asia Talent Team) did clip the number 17 and went down. McPhee, then also carrying damage, managed to stay upright, although he retired.
Meanwhile at the front, rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) was making short work of the race lead as he pushed past Arbolino, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) for close company too. Sure enough, however, it soon became a classic Moto3™ group fight at the front. And after regrouping for a few laps, it was the VNE Snipers duo of Arbolino and teammate Romano Fenati who led the way, that lasting until 10 laps to go, with Dalla Porta then attacking for, and keeping, the lead.
Canet wasn’t going to let his key rival escape from the pack, however, and with three laps to go produced a fantastic two-rider pass into Turn 3 to get himself up into the top three. Four of the top five in the overall standings were in a battle at the front: Dalla Porta, Canet, Arbolino and Antonelli. But who would emerge victorious?
The last lap board was signalled and Dalla Porta held firm, but Arbolino got the better of him into Turn 3 and Canet then followed him through into second, having started the last lap in fourth. Then, on the exit of Turn 9, Canet was able to capitalise on a small mistake from Arbolino and moved through to the lead, head down and the Spaniard faultless to the line. He would prove uncatchable through the latter half of the lap, taking his second win of the year by a tenth and a half.
Behind Canet, Dalla Porta at least managed to get past Arbolino to do some damage control and stay within three points of the top, the number 48 forced to settle for second for the fifth time this year. Polesitter Arbolino completed the podium and moves up to fourth in the standings, just ahead of the man he also pipped on track: Masia.
Niccolo Antonelli, meanwhile, completed his absolute charge in fifth. The Italian was forced to start from pitlane after a problem on the grid and was electrifying in his progress through the field. First getting into the fight for points, then the top ten and then, incredibly, starting to get involved in the podium fight, the number 23’s race was a masterclass in comebacks. On the final lap he was well within the fight, but ultimately couldn’t quite make the podium, coming home in fifth. But Antonelli’s deficit to the win, from pitlane, was under half a second.
Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) was an impressive presence in the front group once again and the Japanese rookie took sixth for the third time in four races, now only 12 points behind Rookie of the Year leader Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46), who crashed in Czechia. Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) was seventh after a solid ride for solid points, getting the better of veteran compatriot Romano Fenati, who slipped down to P8 by the end of the race. Home hero Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) made a stunning charge through the field from 20th on the grid to come home in ninth, able to escape the clutches of Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power)… the man who started just behind him.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) continued the trend of huge progress through the field in 11th having started 24th, the Japanese rider able to get past early leader Raul Fernandez, who took P12. Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) had a solid Sunday for more points in P13, ahead of Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46).
Suzuki was a crasher from the front group early on, and home hero Filip Salač (Redox PrüstelGP) also went down. Estrella Galicia 0,0 teammates Sergio Garcia and Alonso Lopez tangled and failed to finish, and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) crashed.
Now we pack up and head for the Red Bull Ring next weekend, with the roles reversed but the gap exactly the same. Who will come out on top in Austria? Find out when we race again on Sunday 11th August.
Aron Canet: “It didn’t go exactly to plan because I overtook Antonelli around the outside at the first corner, and my strategy in Turn 3 was overtaking to stay in second place and try to fight in the last corners. Then after the third corner I was in second and I was thinking, ‘ok now you only need to overtake Arbolino’. And when I’d done that, I pushed so hard and closed the door at every corner. The race is for my grandmother and for my trainer Carlos. We bet that if I win here, I shave my head…so now I have to do that!”
1 – Aron Canet (SPA – KTM) 39’11.879
2 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) +0.159
3 – Tony Arbolino (ITA – Honda) +0.217
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