Diogo Moreira collected his maiden grand prix victory after prevailing in a breathless Indonesian Moto3 race that yielded mixed fortunes for the main title contenders.
An unpredictable and closely-matched encounter, even by Moto3 standards, while less than two seconds would cover the top fifteen riders at the finish, it was Moreira who’d keep the baying masses behind him in a clamour to the line.
Becoming the first Brazilian to win a Grand Prix World Championship race since Alex Barros in 2005, Moreira reached the flag just over a tenth clear of David Alonso, who in turn had only +0.023s in hand over David Munoz in third after getting the nod in their sprint to the flag.
In the context of the title battle, Jaume Masia has extended his overall lead to 16 points despite being bullied down to sixth during the closing stages.
However, the Spaniard was still able to capitalise on tough days for his two closest rivals as Ayumu Sasaki failing to score after encountering issues before the race had begun, while Daniel Holgado’s determined efforts were nixed by two late long lap penalties that demoted him to 14th on the classification.
Diogo Moreira yo-yos from pole to flag
In a year that has seen Moto3 deliver numerous tantalising starter courses to kick off Grand Prix Sundays at several venues already, the return to Indonesia would serve up a particularly appetite-sating treat that kept both fans and the riders guessing even beyond the flag.
So while Moreira was the one to ultimately take victory from his second career pole position, it in no way serves to explain the thread of a hyperactive race that yo-yo’d so much in the closing stages that more than a dozen riders were still in contention for victory right to the end.
Indeed, the MT Helmets-MSI rider didn't present himself as a favourite to shake out on top during the initial stages, the Brazilian starting well from the front before steadily being shuffled onto the fringes of the lead battle by the mid-way stage in the race.
Instead, the top deck during the first-half of the race broadly consisted of Holgado, Masia, Alonso and Collin Veijer, albeit in a variety of configurations as they dipped through on one another repeatedly.
For Holgado, Masia and Alonso especially though, the race already represented a golden opportunity to inflict damage on one of their key title rivals after Sasaki suffered a curious fall on the sighting lap before an issue affected him at the lights hampered him further. Once up and running, Sasaki battled back from dead last but was unable to recover back to the points.
With the lead quartet continuing to interchange with one another, it denied them any chance to break away from the close-following peloton, now headed up by both Moreira and Munoz.
As such, once the race clicked over into its second-half, both began to get back involved in the lead fight with an opportunistic Moreira picking his way to the front again by lap 13 of 20.
In response, Holgado fought back the following revolution but in doing so caught himself out by cutting too much out of the quick Turn 9 change of direction as he swept back through on Moreira. Drawing the ire of the race stewards, Holgado was swiftly handed a long lap penalty, demoting the erstwhile leader down to tenth place with little more than three laps remaining.
Back at the front, the leaders resumed wrestling over the top spot with Masia taking up the baton in front, a position he’d hold into the penultimate lap until a wide moment put him off-line into Turn 10. With rivals needing no second introduction to pounce, Moreira pounced back into the lead as Masia was hung out to dry by a lunging Holgado missing the apex too.
Undoing much of the hard work Holgado had done to overtake six riders in just two laps as he worked his way back into contention, stewards then added insult to injury by delivering a second long lap penalty for corner cutting again ahead of the final lap.
Though it ultimately rendered his victory hopes moot, the Spaniard battled on at the front having chosen to take the post-race three-second time penalty rather than dive for the on-track detour. However, he'd find himself swallowed up by the pack too with Moreira snaking past just in time to avoid a skirmish of contact between Alonso and Munoz directly behind him.
With the staccato pace out front having already backed the pack right into the clutches of two chasing groups - swelling the swarm to 15 riders split by little more than a second - a nervy Moreira defended his lead accurately but slowly into the remaining turns, a tactic that led to concertina consequences behind.
Not that it would concern him, Moreira brushing off a brief kiss of the rear-wheel from Alonso to get the drive out of Turn 17 to reach the flag to claim a long-awaited maiden win for both himself and the MT Helmets-MSi team. Alonso shook out in second despite bumping fairings with Munoz, the BOE rider completing the podium.
A healthy haul of points for the Colombian, a triple race winner this season, the result pulls Alonso back into closer contention for the title too. However, it is Masia who sits more comfortably at the summit, 16 points clear of Sasaki, 17 ahead of Holgado, while Alonso stares down a 29 point deficit.
One of the main contenders for victory early on, Veijer’s wait for a first Moto3 podium goes on as he was forced to settle for fourth, just ahead of fellow rookie Jose Antonio Rueda, the KTM Ajo rider one of the big beneficiaries of the late slowing of pace to go from tenth to fifth on the final lap.
Masia settled for a frustrated but potentially crucial sixth place finish on a day when the lead title fighters were out-foxed, followed by Taiyo Furusato and Deniz Oncu in seventh and eighth.
Holgado, meanwhile, had already been overwhelmed back to ninth by the flag before his three-second penalty was applied to demote him further down to 14th, lifting Ivan Ortola and Stefano Nepa into ninth and tenth, the Angeluss MTA Team riders forced to ponder what might have been after removing themselves from front contention early on with a long lap penalties each.
Matteo Bertelle followed up in 11th, ahead of SIC58 duo Kaito Toba and Riccardo Rossi, themselves less than two seconds off the lead in 12th and 13th, with the penalised Holgado in 14th and Ryusei Yamanaka 15th for the final point.
Elsewhere, it was a chastening day for the VisionTrack Racing duo with Scott Ogden crashing out a day after he suffered a painful high-side, while Josh Whatley brought it home in 23rd.
|2023 Indonesian Moto3 | Mandalika Circuit | RACE Results | Round 15 of 20|
|1||Diogo Moreira||🇧🇷||MT Helmets - MSI||KTM||20 Laps|
|2||David Alonso||🇨🇴||GASGAS Aspar M3||GasGas||+0.107|
|3||David Munoz||🇪🇦||BOE Motorsports||KTM||+0.130|
|4||Collin Veijer||🇳🇱||Husqvarna IntactGP||Husqvarna||+0.190|
|5||Jose Antonio Rueda||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||+0.483|
|6||Jaume Masia||🇪🇦||Leopard Racing||Honda||+0.544|
|7||Taiyo Furusato||🇯🇵||Honda Team Asia||Honda||+0.811|
|8||Deniz Oncu||🇹🇷||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||+0.855|
|9||Ivan Ortola||🇪🇦||Angeluss MTA Team||KTM||+1.164|
|10||Stefano Nepa||🇮🇹||Angeluss MTA Team||KTM||+1.253|
|11||Matteo Bertelle||🇮🇹||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||+1.346|
|12||Kaito Toba||🇯🇵||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||+1.447|
|13||Riccardo Rossi||🇮🇹||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||+1.815|
|14||Daniel Holgado||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Tech3||KTM||+4.018|
|15||Ryusei Yamanaka||🇯🇵||GASGAS Aspar M3||GasGas||+9.094|
|16||Joel Kelso||🇦🇺||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto||+9.404|
|17||Arbi Aditama||🇮🇩||Honda Team Asia||Honda||+12.750|
|18||Ayumu Sasaki||🇯🇵||Husqvarna IntactGP||Husqvarna||+19.692|
|19||Xavier Artigas||🇪🇦||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto||+19.733|
|20||Filippo Farioli||🇮🇹||Red Bull KTM Tech3||KTM||+27.823|
|21||Nicola Fabio Carraro||🇮🇹||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||+27.950|
|23||Joshua Whatley||🇬🇧||VisionTrack Racing||Honda||+28.040|
|24||Syarifuddin Azman||🇲🇾||MT Helmets - MSI||KTM||+28.091|
|25||Mario Suryo Aji||🇮🇩||Honda Team Asia||Honda||+28.221|
|26||Noah Dettwiler||🇨🇭||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto||+28.454|
|DNF||Scott Ogden||🇬🇧||VisionTrack Racing||Honda||+39.844|
|DNF||Adrian Fernandez||🇪🇦||Leopard Racing||Honda|
|DNF||Ana Carrasco||🇪🇦||BOE Motorsports||KTM|
|DNS||Lorenzo Fellon||🇫🇷||CIP Green Power||KTM|