Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales won his home race from pole position at the Moto3 round of the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya in dominant fashion, in front of Sandro Cortese and Miguel Oliveira.
Having started in dry conditions, it was AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin who got the holeshot, yet it was Racing Team Germany’s Louis Rossi who bravely pushed his way to the front in turn two, to lead the opening stages. Pole-sitter Viñales did not get a great start, as he was passed down to fourth by Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese.
RW Racing GP’s Luis Salóm also struggled at the start as he dropped to 11th place, while Bankia Aspar Team’s Hector Faubel was making his way up to the front group. An initial tussle ensued between Rossi, Cortese, Viñales, as well as Khairuddin, which was soon joined by JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez, who had a tremendous start.
Khairuddin led for a lap, yet was passed on the home straight by Viñales and Rossi. The Malaysian rider soon appeared to be struggling, as more riders passed him after running wide. With 18 laps to go, Viñales, Rossi and Vázquez started to pull out a small lead, ahead of the following group led by Cortese.
With 13 laps to go the leading group had grown to seven riders fighting it out, with Viñales leading from Rossi, Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Márquez, Vázquez, Márquez’s teammate Miguel Oliveira, Cortese and Faubel. Viñales soon put the hammer down and was starting to pull away slightly, as he left the pursuing six to fight it out, with Cortese and Rossi passing aggressively going into turn one.
With 11 laps left, Team Italia FMI’s Alessandro Tonucci crashed out of the race, putting an end to his bid for points. A few laps later, Khairuddin, who came onto the straight in eighth place, pulled a stunning move into turn one to take second, though was pushed back to third a lap later by Rossi.
There was drama seven laps from the end as Vázquez crashed out of the fight for second, while Oliveira’s teammate Alex Rins also crashed out of his home race. Caretta Technology’s Alexis Masbou had joined the group and was making a bid for second place five laps before the end, although positions kept swapping frequently throughout. A lap before it was misery for Mahindra Racing Team, as Danny Webb crashed out and Marcel Schrotter retired with a mechanical issue.
With three laps remaining, the fight for final podium positions was fierce, with none of the Moto3 chargers wishing to budge. Adding yet another twist, Rossi’s exhaust was dangling off his bike, while early-season sensation, Team Italia FMI’s Romano Fenati, caught up to the back of the group.
After a thrilling last lap, during which eight riders were scrapping it out for the final two podium spots, it was Viñales who took the chequered flag by over seven seconds ahead of Cortese and Oliveira, who recorded his first ever top three spot. They were closely followed by Louis Rossi, Alexis Masbou, Alex Márquez, Hector Faubel, Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Romano Fenati, with Luis Salóm completing the top ten.
With his victory, Viñales has now closed the gap to championship leader Cortese to seven points.