Albert Arenas scored his first Moto3 win after post-race time penalties saw Fabio Di Giannantonio ousted from the podium.
Crashes, penalties and impromptu motocross lessons, Le Mans certainly delivered yet another spectacular and somewhat heart-wrenching race.
Fabio Di Giannantonio took his first win of the year, sending him to the top of the championship standings with only 16 points separating the top three. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be as Di Giannantonio was handed a three-second time penalty for taking a ‘shortcut’ at turn nine, demoting him to fourth position. The young Italian was visibly distraught as his team broke the news in the pit lane, hold his head in his hands before being lead back to his garage.
Angel Nieto team rider Albert Arenas subsequently inherited the win, making it his first win in Moto3. The ecstatic Spaniard described the win as ‘amazing… can’t believe it’. He went on to thank his team for their support after ‘a difficult start to the season due to injury’ as well as making a touching tribute to Angel Nieto.
Andrea Migno secured a well deserved second place and was understandably happy about it. He explained that he ‘felt quite strong’ during the race and was ‘very happy’ to be on the podium.
For the second race in a row, Marco Ramirez gained a podium finish by default after Niccoló Antonelli received a 1.8 second time penalty for taking a shortcut. A beaming Ramirez was delighted to be gracing the podium again, stating that he was ‘really happy’ with the results but explaining how difficult his race was as his ‘bike slid a lot’ and he was ‘on the limit’ during the race.
Post-race penalty sufferers, Di Giannantonio and Antonelli finished in fourth and fifth respectively. Di Giannantonio’s result takes him to second in the championship standings behind Marco Bezzecchi. The pair will go into their home race at Mugello with only four points separating them.
Jakub Kornfeil was extremely lucky to finish the race, let alone in sixth position. The 22-year-old veteran made an out of this world save with a motocross-esque move that stunned fans and professionals alike. After Enea Bastianini lost the back-end of his Leopard racing machine, he slid into the path of the Czech rider who had to take evasive action to avoid a nasty crash. Kornfeil hit the side of the stricken Leopard racing machine, bunny hopping over majority and landing in the gravel. Amazingly, the bike remained upright and he was able to rejoin the track. Full video here.
Tony Arbolino was able to keep out of trouble, bringing his Marinella Snipers team bike home in seventh place whilst Aron Canet made up an astonishing 20 places to finish in eighth. Canet is currently in third in the championship standings with one point between him and his championship rival Jorge Martin. Tatsuki Suzuki made up six places to finish in ninth position with rookie Jaume Masia in 10th. After his horrible high-side crash in qualifying, Masia was able to put the accident behind him and fight his way from 21st to 10th.
Darryn Binder took 11th place ahead of John McPhee in 12th. McPhee, who received a six-place grid penalty for qualifying, made up a phenomenal 15 places to take his CIP Green Power bike from 27th to 12th. Rookie Makur Yurchenko remained consistent with another 13th place while fellow rookie Dennis Foggia finished in 14th place. Jerez race winner Philipp Oettl struggled on the historic French tracking and could only manage 15th.
Ayumu Sasaki finished in 16th with Kaito Toba in 17th and Kazuki Masaki in 18th. Alonso Lopez had a horrendous weekend with a 19th place finish. His performance was a far cry from the impressive display he put on in Jerez where he finished in third before being demoted after exceeding track limits too many times.
Nakarin Atiratphuvapat and Livio Loi bring up the back of the pack in 20th and 21st.
It was another weekend to forget for Leopard racing as neither of their riders crossed the finish line again. Bastianini’s latest DNF makes it three this season, shattering his dreams of being a championship contender and Lorenzo Dalla Porta’s unavoidable non-finish adds to the team’s headache after he retired the bike during lap 13 with a clutch problem.
Adam Norrodin took a tumble during the last lap, forcing him to retire and Nicolo Bulega’s awful 2018 season continues with yet another non-finish with a crash during lap 9. Sky VR46 Racing have been left scratching their heads over Bulega’s season so far but refuse to pass any blame onto Bulega himself. Gabriel Rodrigo was declared fit to race but may have wished he hadn’t been after the Argentinian crashed on lap 4, ending his race before it had even begun.
The drama of the weekend came during the final lap as Bezzecchi and Martin fought for the lead. The pair were within sniffing distance of the finish line when Bezzecchi made a rare mistake, high-siding his bike and collecting everyone’s favourite piece of collateral damage Martin. Bezzecchi was seen limping off with the assistance of the marshals whilst Martin was left to pick up his bike and, once again, think of what could have been. This is the second weekend Martin has been the victim of an unavoidable crash that ruined his chances of a race win.
It’s been a weekend of luck, good and bad alike. A very lucky Arenas heads home with some extra hand luggage whilst Martin tries to work out how much salt he needs to throw over his shoulder to change his fortunes.
Next time, we head to the homeland of the current championship leader. Will Bezzecchi hold onto his championship or will his countryman Di Giannantonio finally get that elusive top step and take the lead? If there is one thing we know, it’s that anything and everything can happen on Sunday.
Full Moto3 race results here.
Moto2 race results here.