Italian teenager Tony Arbolino (Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) won a frantic battle for Moto3 victory, passing Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) at the penultimate corner to take his second victory of the year, by just 0.045 seconds.
The Dutch round of the Moto3 series was like so many other races this year – a huge leading pack chopping and changing position at every corner. At half-distance the leading 15 riders were covered by just 1.8 seconds, then a number of incidents split the pack, with the two leading Hondas finishing 1.5 seconds ahead of third-placed Jakub Kornfeil.
The unluckiest victim of the numerous late-race incidents was Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW), who started from second on the grid and led most of the first half of the race, until he was pushed off the track by an over-enthusiastic rival. That relegated the hugely talented 19-year-old from Fukuoka to ninth place. A few laps later he was involved in a four-man pile-up that cruelly ended his race.
Toba’s ill-luck was particularly undeserved because he had the pace to win the race, wearing a special livery and leathers to commemorate Honda’s 60th anniversary of world-class racing.
At least Honda once again proved its strength in depth in this most competitive of categories, with its sixth victory from the first eight races of 2019 and seven of the first eight finishers riding the company’s superb NSF250RW machine.
Arbolino’s race – which he described as the best of his life – moved him into fourth place in the title chase, while Dalla Porto’s third runner-up finish in four races allowed him to substantially close the points gap on series leader Aron Canet, who finished 12th today. The 22-year-old Italian now stands only seven points behind Canet going into next weekend’s German GP.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) recovered from 16th on the grid to finish fourth, less than six tenths of a second off the podium. The 22-year-old Spaniard was chased over the finish line by French GP winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) and Toba’s team-mate Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW), who finished the race only 2.2 seconds behind the winner. The 18-year-old from Tokyo’s result equalled his best finish, at Barcelona-Catalunya two Sundays ago, and underlines his improving form in his rookie Grand Prix season
Immediately behind Ogura were Catalan GP winner Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) and tenth-placed Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) who led the first lap and ran with the leaders in the early stages. Eight of the top ten finishers were NSF250RW riders.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) was well on the course to a points-scoring finish until he lost control of his motorcycle. The 18-year-old from Yokosuka saved the situation brilliantly, but finished out of the points in 17th.
Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) was a victim of the same multi-bike crash that eliminated Toba.
The paddock now heads into the heart of Europe for the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring next weekend. After the ninth race of the year the paddock gets a three-week break before August’s Czech GP at Brno.