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Moto3: Arenas wins big as title contenders struggle

Published: 28 October 2018

Albert Arenas has taken his second Grand Prix win in stunning style in the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, timing it to perfection to stay ahead over the line in one of the closest top fifteen finishes of all time. Fabio Di Giannantonio took an impressive second after fighting back from outside the top fifteen on the grid and kept his title hopes alive, with Celestino Vietti completing the podium in only his second ever Grand Prix as he replaces the injured Nicolo Bulega. Key title contenders Jorge Martin and Marco Bezzecchi were off the podium – Martin in fifth and Bezzecchi not finishing after another dose of huge bad luck for the Italian as he got collected in a crash.

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As the lights went out under the Phillip Island sun, it was Gabriel Rodrigo who got the perfect launch from the second row to take the holeshot, but he didn’t hold the lead long as Philipp Oettl pounced at Stoner Corner and Martin then repaid the favour not long after. First time down the Gardner Straight, however, the power of the KTM fought back and Rodrigo was back in the lead.

Meanwhile Marco Bezzecchi had made up a few places from his more difficult 15th-place starting position, and the front group remained a long freight train so the Italian was still in the fight. But it was Martin in the lead, the main he trailed by a single point coming into the race, and there was work left to do for the Italian. Slowly making his way forward, he was soon within striking distance of Martin and with 16 to go Bezzecchi went from seventh over the line to the lead within a handful of corners.

Five or six wide through Stoner Corner – somehow – it was a true classic in the lightweight class with the top 17 covered by just over a second and a half. That always brings some drama and, in yet another twist, that drama then hit one of the championship protagonsts: Bezzecchi.

As Gabriel Rodrigo ran out of space between the Italian and Aron Canet, he lost the front. The Italian rider was on the outside and was a pure passenger in the Argentinean’s crash, sending another shockwave through the title fight as he slid out onto the grass and was unable to get back in the race.

That left Martin with a big opportunity to try and extend the gap, but the battle still raged. The freight train remained despite a very brief breakaway for Martin, and there was nothing between those fighting for points and those fighting for the win. Canet had emerged into the lead after some more drama – a huge highside for Marcos Ramirez that then collected his teammate Jaume Masia, and then a crash between Dennis Foggia and Tony Arbolino (– and the final laps were dawning.

Martin seemed to roll out of it on the final time down the Gardner Straight and a gaggle of riders headed abreast into turn one to start the last lap in style, but it was Albert Arenas who took over on the final lap. That was as Vietti held onto second and got attacked by Martin, but the Spaniard couldn’t get through and he headed wide as Fabio Di Giannantonio then capitalised – setting up a drag to the line. As they tucked in and bombed out of the final corner for the last time, Arenas was able to just stay clear as the field snapped at his heels, taking his second Grand Prix win of the season.

Vietti just lost out on second as Di Giannantonio was able to get past him at the line, and for the Del Conca Gresini rider it’s a big result as he puts himself squarely back into the title fight with those 20 points. Vietti held on to third to take his first podium on only his second ever start, with Martin losing out another place over the line as Tatsuki Suzuki struck to take fourth. That, at least, was some consolation for Marco Bezzecchi as the gap didn’t grow by a full 25 points.

Canet took sixth ahead of Enea Bastianini, with Jakub Kornfeil and Ayumu Sasaki completing the top ten. Alonso Lopez was back on song in 11th, with Darryn Binder one to lose out in the latter stages and taking twelfth after leading early on. Andrea Migno, John McPhee and Philipp Oettl completed the points, the latter after some contact with points leader Martin.

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