Moto3: Martin takes back championship lead with Assen win
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) has become the first to win a Moto3™ race at the TT Circuit Assen from pole position, breaking the jinx in style to fight it out at the front before pulling the pin to perfection. The Spaniard crossed the line nearly seven tenths clear of a duel to the line between second-placed Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and P3 finisher Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing), and the 25 points see Martin take back the top of the Championship after late drama for former points leader Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) as the Italian crashed out of contention on the final lap.
Martin got the perfect start from pole, safe from attack into Turn 1 as Bastianini tucked in behind and third was taken by his teammate Lorenzo Dalla Porta. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) dropped from the front row, and the biggest gain was made by Championship leader Bezzecchi from tenth on the grid, with Italian taking third by the end of Lap 1.
Bezzecchi then attacked Bastianini for second and set his sights on race leader Martin, with the two joined by Canet in the hunt to cut the gap the leader had pulled out. But it was Canet who had the pace to do it, taking Martin as soon as he reached him and Bezzecchi then doing the same.
John McPhee (CIP – Green Power), meanwhile, had pulled away from the second group to join the fight for the win as it became a five-way scrap for glory with 16 to go. With some incredible moves exchanged between the five men, the laps ticked down with nothing in it and positions chopping and changing – classic Moto3™ at the ‘Cathedral’.
With two laps to go, Bezzecchi was in the lead but the Italian headed wide and Martin pounced, with the Spaniard then immediately pulling the pin, half a second clear in the blink of an eye. Canet was the man pushing to catch him, before drama then hit as McPhee suddenly slid out at Turn 9 and the fight became four.
Martin was free and clear of it with almost eight tenths in his pocket as they began the final lap, but the drama behind wasn’t over there as another bike then slid out into the gravel – that of Bezzecchi as disaster struck for the Italian. That made the stakes that much bigger for Martin as he crossed the line clear to take not only the win but also the Championship lead – with Canet just able to hold off Bastianini for second.
The second group fighting over sixth was eight riders all packed together to squabble it out, but with the crashes up ahead it became the fight for fourth and a stunning performance from top rookie Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) took that fourth by a mere tenth. He finished just ahead of Czech veteran Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP), who came from 23rd on the grid after a penalty and put in an impressive push through the pack to complete the top five.
Dalla Porta beat Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to P6 by just 0.022 but it was nevertheless the South African’s best result of the season so far, with another close fight just behind the two to decide eighth as Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) pipped Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and Bulega. Bulega, completing the top ten from the front row, therefore put his first points on the board in 2018 after a difficult start to the year for the former FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Champion.
Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) split the two Sky Racing Team VR46 machines in P11 as Bulega’s teammate and fellow former Moto3™ Junior World Champion Dennis Foggia came home twelfth for his first points of the year as well, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) completing the scorers – Toba from P29 on the grid.