Enea Bastianini has stormed to an impressive victory at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit, after the Italian put in a courageous last lap move on freshly crowned Moto3 World Champion Brad Binder to pip the South African to line by just 0.017s. Hiroki Ono completed a strong weekend to take the final podium spot after a thrilling battle with the Sky VR46 pair of Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega.
As the lights went out it was Migno who took the advantage, leading into turns one and two despite a wheelie off the line, however this lead was short lived as Binder made his way up the inside of the Italian who then ran wide and dropped to fifth. Further down the pack, an incident occurred at turn one between Jorge Navarro, Gabriel Rodrigo and John McPhee. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider clipped Joan Mir’s Leopard and subsequently flew into gravel, taking Rodrigo and McPhee down with him.
With the laps ticking away, a lead group of six had established itself at the front of the race with Binder towing Bastianini, Migno, Francesco Bagnaia, Bulega and home rider Ono away from the rest of the field. The group regularly traded leather throughout the laps but the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider never looked troubled as he was never troubled by the rest of the group and was left count down the laps in front.
With eight laps to go Bagnaia was the first to crack as the Aspar rider began to lose traction and move back slightly into the second group. Just as Binder was stretching the group, Bulega was next to fall off the pace and the Sky VR46 rider was slowly drifting back into the grasps of Philipp Oettl who was leading the second chase group.
Binder seemed to have distanced the other with five laps remaining however Bastianini rediscovered his pace and latched on to the South African only two laps to go. The vital move came on the final lap at turn 11 when the patient Gresini rider slipped up the inside of the World Champion and held him off over the line.
The battle for the final podium spot heated up dramatically as a last lap attack from Migno on Ono resulted in the Italian clipping the rear of the Honda Team Asia machine, then getting flipped over the highside. Ono Survived the attack to cross the line in third just ahead of Bulega who finished fourth. This is Japan’s first rostrum finish at Motegi since Hiroshi Aoyama in 2009.
Phillip Oettl continued his solid run of form lately with a fantastic fifth position with Fabio Di Giannantonio among the high point scorers once again in a gallant sixth place. Bagnaia, after his magnificent start, held on to take seventh. Livio Loi, Fabio Quartararo and Joan Mir rounded out the top ten places.
Moto3 will return at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit next weekend, with Bastianini and Binder looking like the men to beat.