Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) is now seemingly in charge of the Moto3™ World Championship, with the points leader stretching his legs at the Twin Ring Motegi to take his second win of the season and capitalise on a crash for key rival Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). Buriram winner Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) ran him close though, within a tenth by the line, with rookie Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) completing the podium and breaking some home hearts in the process…
Off the line it was Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) who took the holeshot from third on the grid, with Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) up into second as polesitter – and recovering rider – Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) dropped back to fourth. There was immediate drama too as Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) suffered contact from Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) and they both went down, with Dalla Porta vs Canet raging as an early a battle for seventh.
Vietti had something to say about that, however, the rookie getting in the mix and Canet then the man to break free of the fight and move forward first. Not long after though, Dalla Porta was back on his tail and the two were slicing forward, catching Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Suzuki in the lead.
With 12 to go, Dalla Porta hit the front, with Canet a little further down in the mire as the Spaniard started fading slightly in fifth. Drama hit a different contender first, however, as Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) crashed at Turn 5 – all but derailing his chances at the crown.
It was a group of seven with eight to go as Dalla Porta led Suzuki, Garcia, Arenas, Vietti, Canet and John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) around the Twin Ring Motegi, but the latter half of the headline hit just a lap later: Canet’s crash. The Spaniard went down alone and was able to rejoin, but later pulled in – leaving Dalla Porta with an entirely open goal.
By five laps to go McPhee also departed the group as the Brit faded back to fifth, but it remained game on at the front. And as is so often the case in Moto3™, the battle raged to the final lap, the final corner and right down to the flag.
Dalla Porta was the man in the lead as Suzuki stalked the points leader, with Arenas down in third and Vietti the final man in the quintet at that point. But as Arenas took second, Vietti took fourth and the Spaniard was looking for a way through. Ultimately, however, the next and final attack came from Vietti as the Italian rookie struck through the final complex of corners, leaving Suzuki desperately tucking into the bubble to try and use the slipstream to the line. It was to no avail though as Dalla Porta outlasted Arenas’ attack to take the win and Vietti was able to do the same to the home hero, the Italian rookie pipping him to the podium.
Garcia took his best yet result in an impressive fifth, within half a second of the win, with McPhee coming home sixth. Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) out-duelled Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) for seventh, with Lopez crossing the line a few tenths further back in P9. Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) completed the top ten after fending off Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race).
Polesitter Antonelli held on through the pain barrier to P12 and beat home hero Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) by thousandths, with two more Japanese riders completing the points: rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) and wildcard Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0). In the same group, Stefano Nepa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) just missed out.
That’s it from Japan and a hard-fought Moto3™ mosh pit, next up it’s Phillip Island and we can probably already say it’ll be one of the races of the season…so buckle up and tune in to see if Dalla Porta can wrap up the crown Down Under.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta: “I’m over the moon, not for the crashes for the others of course but for my performance because I had a fantastic race. After some problems in Warm Up, for the race the team worked hard and the bike was so good. I started looking for the other riders, Canet was aggressive on the first laps but once I overtook him and Suzuki I could do my rhythm and push. I’m so happy, and we’re going to Australia next which is another track I like. Also, I promised my grandmother when she died that I would celebrate a victory for her so this is for her.”
1 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) 39’34.866
2 – Albert Arenas (SPA – KTM) +0.094
3 – Celestino Vietti (ITA – KTM) +0.198