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MotoGP Catalunya: Maiden Moto3 win for Binder, McPhee crashes

Darryn Binder took his first Moto3 victory at Barcelona this afternoon after a dramatic opener at the Catalan GP saw him fight off a determined Tony Arbolino and late-charging Dennis Foggia to become the second-ever South African winner in the lightweight class.

Cloud cover prevented the track temperature from rising to it’s expected conditions, settling at a cool 20℃ as the 21-lap race got underway but that by no means reflected the action in store.

Invigorated by his contract announcement, promoting him to Moto2 next year, Arbolino made a determined start from pole to maintain control as the race got underway. Raul Fernandez and Gabriel Rodrigo also looking to make the most of their front row start, as Albert Arenas muscled his way in to the top-three, Binder joining the fight at the front and advancing on the championship-leader on the second lap.


Starting down in 15th, last-weekend’s winner, Romano Fenati made early contact with Celestino Vietti, the two circulating in the mid-pack as they regrouped before moving forward. Also hoping to demonstrate his strong race pace as he made use of the soft rear tyre, John McPhee propelled himself from his 12th place start, advancing to eighth in the opening lap and taking the fastest lap of the race by lap three.

Back at the front, Arenas made his move for the lead, taking Binder with him before the two were swallowed by the group behind, Rodrigo taking charge ahead of Arbolino, as McPhee then moved through to second with the pole man returning to the front.

The pack remained tight as the laps counted down, the top-13 riders separated by just two seconds, as the fight at the front continued to play out. Drama ensued with 16 laps to go as McPhee, looking to take second, wiped out Arenas at turn four, the Spaniard livid with the dejected Scot as neither were able to recover their machines from the gravel.

Having suffered his worst qualifying in 24th, Ogura circulated out of the points, in 16th, for the early stages, despite being notified that his championship competitors were both now out of the race.

In the front group, Arbolino continued to hold his nerve from a hard-charging Binder with Garcia, Rodrigo and Jaume Masia now battling for podium contention. The South African repeatedly diving for the lead before returning to second as the race played out.

Turn four claimed another victim on lap nine as Denis Öncü suffered a major crash, the KTM barrel rolling through the gravel with SIC58 stand-in Jose Julian Garcia for company.

Lap 10 saw Masia move through to take charge at the front ahead of Rodrigo, Arbolino, Binder and Sergio Garcia, as the frenetic five-rider battle allowed the South African to take the advantage again at the halfway stage.

Four laps later and it was Foggia who hit the front, leading Binder and Garcia as Arbolino dropped to sixth. The Leopard rocket looked to break clear of the group as his teammate manoeuvred through to join the party but with three laps remaining, Arbolino renewed his charge, advancing on Binder to retake the final podium spot as the two reignited their race-long battle for position and the duo moved through on Masia, relegating the Spaniard down to fifth.

The final lap saw Binder make a determined move for the lead, bringing Arbolino with him as Foggia fell backwards to third, the 22-year-old taking his debut Moto3 victory as he crossed the line to the delight of his Green Power team.


Garcia and Alonso Lopez took fourth and fifth at the flag with Fenati gifted sixth after late penalties for Masia and Vietti saw the pair drop a position for exceeding track limits. Niccolò Antonelli and Rodrigo rounded out the top-10 and a late charge from Ogura in the second group moved the Honda Asia rider up to 11th, gaining valuable points to capitalise on his now three-point championship advantage. Filip Salac, Fernandez, Stefano Nepa and Ryusei Yamanaka concluded the point scoring positions.

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