Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) made sure more history was made in the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, with the Spaniard escaping from a dramatic and chaotic fight to win his first race and make it 12 different winners in a row. It’s also therefore seven different winners in a row this season, and the first time that’s ever happened in the first seven races of the lightweight class. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) took a valuable second place to extend his Championship lead, with impressive rookie Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) taking some tips from the boss to secure third with a stunning, Rossi-esque final corner move.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) took the holeshot from third on the grid, but fast-starting Canet shot through from fifth on the grid to attack quickly for the lead – and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) soon followed suit. Polesitter Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) dropped to seventh as the field shuffled through the first lap, and the first man to lose out in what would go on to be a race of attrition was Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) as the Japanese rider went down early.
The race was a classic Moto3™ melee, but in the early stages it was Dalla Porta in charge at the front of the big group. The Italian looked like a serious threat until heartbreak suddenly hit with 18 laps to go as the number 48 suffered a mechanical problem around Turn 13, forced to pull off and losing some serious ground in the Championship.
Marcos Ramirez was the new man in the lead, but there was more drama just around the corner. Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) triggered a multiple-rider incident at Turn 4, with Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), teammate Raul Fernandez, Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) and Filip Salac (Redox Pruestel GP) all caught up in it and out of the race.
There had been a group of seven riders in the lead group with 15 laps to go, but the group got bigger over the next few laps until the top 15 were back in a freight train. And it soon lost another member, with Arbolino, incredibly, also suffering a mechanical problem and the Mugello winner dropping back and then heading back into pitlane. The top 18 were within an awesome 2.7 seconds as the last laps appeared on the horizon, but there was more drama to come. Next it was Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) crashing out with eight laps to go, and then it was polesitter Rodrigo a few laps later – with Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) going down with him.
That left Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) leading the battle for supremacy, with the Qatar GP winner having put in a stunner to slice through the chaos from P24 on the grid. He managed to stay there too, and was the man with the target on his back heading onto the last lap. Canet and Lopez made for close company however, and as Canet then went for a move to attack at Turn 10, Toba suddenly slid out in another bout of heartbreaking drama.
Canet went a little wide, Lopez did the same, and Ramirez took his opportunity almost immediately. Cutting past into the lead, the Spaniard just had a few corners to go to win his first ever Grand Prix. Into the final corner though it looked like Canet was going to try and recreate the famous Valentino Rossi move from a decade ago, but he thought better of it and slotted back in behind Ramirez. Just behind them, however, Vietti went for it.
As Ramirez blasted clear of Canet towards his first win, the Sky Racing Team VR46 rider just behind them kept it pinned on the inside and managed to pull it off with serious style, taking his third podium and second of the season…from 21st on the grid!
Behind Lopez, Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) completed the top five, ahead of Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) taking his best ever finish in P6 after his stellar qualifying. Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) finished seventh, with Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) heading compatriot Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0) just behind. Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) completed the top ten.
Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) scored some valuable points in P11 after starting near the back following a penalty, and the Italian had even fought for the lead before running wide with a few laps to go. Wildcard Carlos Tatay (Fundacion Andreas Perez 77) took points in P12, just ahead of John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing).
The Scot fought at the front throughout and in the podium battle until Turn 10 on the final lap, when he suffered a highside…and then a miracle save. Somehow staying on, it was an incredible sight and feat. Tom Booth-Amos (CIP – Green Power) scored his first points in P14, ahead of teammate Darryn Binder after the South African rejoined.
A true melee in stunning Moto3™ style, the chaos of the Catalan GP leaves Canet a valuable 23 points clear at the top of the standings heading into Assen. Will the Spaniard pull off more top tactics there? Find out in two weeks.
1 – Marcos Ramirez (SPA – Honda) 38’36.156
2 – Aron Canet (SPA – KTM) +0.119
3 – Celestino Vietti (ITA – KTM) +0.146
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