The opening Moto3 race may prove to be a critical moment in this year’s Moto3 World Championship fight as Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) stormed to second place as his title rivals Aron Canet (KTM) and Tony Arbolino (Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) had days to forget.
The race started in thrilling fashion, with a leading group of 22 riders fighting for positions at every corner. However, a crash on lap eight split the lead group, when Darryn Binder took out victory contenders John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) and Canet. There was further drama when Arbolino suffered an issue that dropped him outside the points, before he fought back to tenth.
It was left to Dalla Porta to lead from the front with Albert Arenas and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) making it a three-way fight for the victory on the last lap. Despite Dalla Porta’s out-braking move into the final corner, he ran wide, allowing Arenas to cut back and win by 0.231 seconds. Dalla Porta’s disappointment at losing out on a second victory of the season was tempered by the knowledge that he had extended his championship lead from two points to 22.
Lopez was delighted to collect a first Grand Prix podium with third, 0.322 seconds behind the race winner, after narrowly missing the top three on two previous occasions. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) was in the midst of the victory fight throughout but was the victim of an aggressive overtake on the penultimate lap which caused him to lose the leaders’ tow. Fourth place was still his best result in three races.
Starting from the front of the second row, Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) felt his way into this 22-lap race before showing his best speed in the closing laps to finish seventh. Toba began to make progress from 14th place to join the leading group with seven laps to go.
It was a brilliant effort from the 19-year old from Fukuoka, who is still feeling the after-effects of a painful shoulder injury sustained at the San Marino Grand Prix. Despite not feeling 100 percent fit, Toba avoided late drama to come home seventh, just 1.2 seconds behind the race winner.
Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) arrived in Thailand with high hopes thanks to a debut Grand Prix podium at the previous race at Aragon. However, the talented 18-year-old from Tokyo crashed in qualifying, leaving him 20th on the grid.
In the race he made excellent progress to ride with the leading group in the closing stages, taking fifth place at the final corner of the penultimate lap. But at the first turn of the final lap Ogura was taken out by Andrea Migno. A sad end to a fighting ride.
After a gruelling weekend in tropical heat, the MotoGP paddock has ten days to catch its breath before the action resumes at Motegi, where practice begins on October 18. The Japanese Grand Prix is the first of three races held on consecutive weekends, with Australia and Malaysia following.