Honda riders finished first and second in a breathtaking Moto3 race which featured a race-long multi-rider battle with positions changing at every corner.
The result was in doubt until the moment the leaders crossed the finish line, when pole-starter Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers Honda NSF250RW) drafted past Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) to score his first Grand Prix victory by the slender margin of 0.029 seconds. The result continued Moto3’s remarkable run of 11 races with 11 different winners.
At the flag the top eight riders were separated by less than sixth tenths of a second. Honda riders did most of the leading during the 20 laps, with Dalla Porta looking the strongest. The 21-year-old led out of the final corner, but Arbolino found his slipstream to slingshot just metres from the finish. The 18-year-old was overjoyed with his home-race victory, which was only the second podium result of his Grand Prix career.
Dalla Porta was philosophical in defeat and happy that his second place moved him to within three points of series leader Aron Canet, who finished seventh today.
The race was a typical Mugello battle, with riders overtaking each other through the track’s fast, sweeping corners and also on the straight, MotoGP’s fastest.
Although Arbolino and Dalla Porta were the podium stars, Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) rode at least as well, fighting back from 18th on the grid to briefly lead in the final laps and take fourth at the finish, just 0.078 seconds off the podium. His ride made it three NSF250R machines in the Mugello top four and puts him third in the championship.
Le Mans winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) also fought in the lead group and looked capable of climbing the podium once again. The 24-year-old Briton finished sixth, just 0.403 seconds behind Arbolino.
Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) rode an excellent race, leading on several occasions, but in the final dash to the finish line the 21-year-old from Chiba was eighth, 0.595 seconds behind the winner.
Grand Prix first-timer Gerry Salim (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) had a brilliant World Championship debut, completing the race in 16th place, only 0.076 seconds outside the points! The 22-year-old Indonesian took the place of injured Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW). He also rode the 12th fastest lap of the race.
Team-mate Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) was very much out of luck and unable to continue his excellent run of results. The 19-year-old from Fukuoka was in the lead group, chasing Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) when Sasaki crashed and Toba was unable to miss his fallen machine. Both riders were unhurt.