Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) took a stunning first win from his first pole position in the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina, pitching it to perfection on the final lap to cross the line ahead of a stunning ride through the field for Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power), with Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers Team) completing the podium. It was the first visit to the rostrum for all three.
Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) took the holeshot from second on the grid as Masia slipped back a little from pole, with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) initially challenging the two and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) getting feisty at the front of the group. Feisty was the word for much of the race and the first few laps were no different, with most of the field locked in a long freight train shuffling for position.
A duel for the lead between Canet and Antonelli early on looked like it could see the two men break away but it wasn’t to be, and with 17 laps to go Masia struck back to take the lead. With 15 to go it was home hero Gabriel Rodrigo’s (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) turn to do the same, but the action ramped up another notch as the group battled it out – and Binder began to make his presence felt as he moved up the order.
With 11 laps to go it was attrition more than pace that was slowly whittling down the riders in the front group. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) came together and they both went down, also pushing Qatar GP winner Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) wide and the Japanese rider left with a gap left to make up. Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) crashed out not long after too, but the freight train would soon gain back another carriage as rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) was able to tag on – and Toba pushed and pushed to try and make it back onto the group.
As the last few laps appeared, the number 27 had made up the gap and was back in contention. With such a huge group all squabbling, it was clear by crunch time that it wasn’t only a battle for the lead but still a battle for points: more than 15 riders were still tagged together hammering around Termas de Rio Hondo.
Heading over the line to begin the last lap, Binder held on at the front but he had Dalla Porta for close company and it wasn’t long until the Italian muscled his way past. As they thundered down to Turn 5 Rodrigo struck to make his own move for the lead and Binder then attacked Dalla Porta in the shuffle behind; the Italian forced a little wide. That was when Masia decided to strike taking over at the front through Turns 7 and 8 and ultimately not needing to look back. Keeping his cool, the Spaniard crossed the line for his first Grand Prix win and his first visit to the podium with just enough breathing space to avoid an attack from the chasing pack.
That wasn’t true of Rodrigo. Binder muscled through on the inside and the Argentinean suffered a huge wobble, somehow staying on but his podium hopes evaporating. The South African was able to complete his own fairytale race and take that second place and his first podium though, gaining a stunning 18 places from his starting position in the process. Arbolino, meanwhile, avoided the drama and swept through to take third and convert his top pace in preseason into a podium.
Antonelli took fourth after a solid race, with Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) concluding a quality Sunday with a top five finish and his best ever result in fifth. Rodrigo recovered from the last lap drama to take sixth ahead of another forced into a recovery as Dalla Porta crossed the line in P7. Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) – arguably the author of the move of the race as he managed a three-in-one overtake for the lead at one point – took eighth, ahead of Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) and a top class fight back from Qatar GP winner and Championship leader Kaito Toba.
Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai), Canet and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) locked out 11th to 13th, with the final points taken by rookie duo Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team).
Somewhat surprisingly, it was Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) who was the first of the freight train to miss out on points, the former Argentina GP winner taking P16, with rookie Ogura just behind him. But that’s it from a high octane Termas de Rio Hondo, with Toba still with a slim points lead as we head to the Circuit of the Americas in two weeks.
1 – Jaume Masia (SPA) 38’54.562
2 – Darryn Binder (RSA) +0.108
3 – Tony Arbolino (ITA) +0.295
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