Enea ‘The Beast’ Bastianini ends two-year winless drought after Jorge Martin crashes out of the lead.
The Leopard Racing rider stormed to victory under the Catalan sun, moving him to fourth in championship standings ahead of Aron Canet but the pole man’s race didn’t have the dream start that he would have hoped for as Mugello winner Martin had a perfect start to take the lead whilst Bastianini was swallowed up by the pack.
Tatsuki Suzuki moved up to second during lap one with Argentinian Gabriel Rodrigo who made up five places from eighth to third. Darryn Binder’s horrendous season continued with a crash at turn 12 after contact with Lorenzo Dalla Porta. Dalla Porta was able to rejoin but Binder was forced to retire. Fabio Di Giannantonio’s disappointing weekend continue with a trip through the gravel trap during lap three. The Italian ran wide at turn five, losing the rear but he was able to keep the bike upright and going to rejoin in 26th. Kazuki Masaki was another victim of turn five as he crashed, forcing him to retire after only four laps.
Martin and Suzuki maintained a comfortable gap of 2.7seconds to the remaining top 10 at the start of lap five as Marco Ramirez joins the growing list of crashers after a slow trip into the gravel at turn four, he was able to rejoin but retired during lap 14 with a suspected mechanical issue. Martin’s unlucky streak came back with a vengeance as he crashed out of the lead at turn nine as he lost the front end. His lap eight crash makes it three crashes in four races so naturally the young Spaniard looks deflated after his latest crash however there is a silver lining on his current dark cloud as the Madrid born rider announced he will be moving to Moto2 for 2019-2020 to race with Red Bull KTM Ajo, replacing Miguel Oliviera.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t the last of the crashers as Ayumu Sasaki crashed only one lap later at turn five. Le Mans winner Albert Arenas caused a skittles effect crash at lap 15 as he tagged Canet and collected Nicolo Bulega on the way down. This crash not only ruined Bulega’s chance of some much-needed points but also put a huge dent into Canet’s championship hopes. Canet was stretchered off after the crash but it has been reported that he has suffered a heel injury but no fractures detected. Arenas was also taken the medical team after injuring his left eye and will undergo a check with a specialist.
Rookie Jaume Masia made a costly mistake at turn one that saw him prematurely end his and Andrea Migno’s race after he underbraked and moved to avoid a collision with championship leader Marco Bezzecchi, however he then tagged John McPhee, ricocheting off his CIP Green Power KTM machine and into Migno. Both riders were able to walk away from the crash albeit rather slowly.
Livio Loi, Makar Yurchenko and Jakub Kornfeil all picked up post race timing penalties for taking a shortcut. Kornfeil received a 1.6 second penalty whilst Yurchenko got a 1.2 seconds added on and Loi received the harshest with 1.9 seconds.
Bastianini was able to bring his Leopard Racing Honda bike back in first position but it was a photo finish for second as Bezzecchi narrowly nudged Rodrigo out but less than a tyre’s width. The third place position is the Argentinian’s first podium in his Moto3 career so there were very few hard feelings especially as he was able to celebrate this momentous occasions with MotoGP riders and his good friends Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales. When asked about his race and his first podium finish, he struggled to find the words to describe it but, with the huge grin on his face, settled on ‘amazing’ and ‘tough’.
Bezzeccchi extends his championship lead over Di Giannantonio with his second place finish but said it was ‘the worst race’ and he was struggling’ throughout.
A jubilant Bastianini admitted that he ‘battled a lot’ so much so that ‘(he had) pushed over the limit on the last lap.’ but when asked about how it felt to be back on the podium, a simple ‘incredible’ summed it up.
All riders, on and off the podium, dedicated this weekend to Andreas Perez, the 14-year-old Spanish Moto3 Junior World Championship rider who tragically died at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last weekend, many were seen sporting his number 77 on their bikes or helmets. Bezzecchi and Aloso Lopez both paid tribute to him with signs, Bezzecchi completing a cool down lap with an ‘Andreas Perez #77′ flag whereas Lopez carried a ’77’ sign during his lap. A touching tribute to one of their own.
With five different race winners in seven races, the top step is anyone’s for the taking. Who will claim it in Assen?
Full results here.