Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jaume Masia proved victorious in Le Mans after rain and red flags shortened the Moto3 race to 14 laps.
A final corner move secured the celebrations for the Spaniard with a hard-charging Ayumu Sasaki batting hard for second on the Sterilgarda Husqvarna. Gaviota GasGas Aspar’s Izan Guevara completing the podium with his own late move at the flag.
The French racing action got underway with the lightweight class under darkening skies with rain threatening around the Bugatti Circuit. CIP Green Power’s Joel Kelso withdrawn from competition having continued to struggle from the aftermath of his Jerez warm-up collision.
Leopard’s Dennis Foggia and Tatsuki Suzuki headed the grid with Masia completing the front row for the 22-lap battle with Brits John McPhee, Scott Ogden and Josh Whatley sitting 16th, 19th and 28th respectively.
Lights out and Foggia maintained command with Diogo Moreira launching to second before taking the lead as the pack exited the first corner. Suzuki bettering his teammate for second moments later with Masia and Rivacold Snipers’ Andrea Migno completing the top five as the opening lap played out.
Moments later and the Italian crashed out at the final corner with championship leader Sergio Garcia, Ricardo Rossi, Guevara, and Sasaki. Ivan Ortola and Kaito Toba doing likewise with Daniel Holgado collected at turn three after contact with Elia Bartolini as the rain began to fall and the red flags were issued.
A 14 lap restart returned the grid to its original form with the fallen riders scrambling to repair their machines in time. The brief rain shower clearing quickly as tyre choice became increasingly problematic on the 24 degree track.
The holeshot went to Foggia second time around with Moreira replicating his impressive start to second before taking charge at the first turn. Garcia and Masia bettering Suzuki for third and fourth with Migno, Deniz Öncü and Carlos Tatay running top eight. Sasaki was on the move as the opening lap neared its conclusion, demoting the PruestelGP man as Foggia struck for the lead down the home straight. Moreira and Migno dropping to fifth and sixth respectively as Suzuki struck back to second.
McPhee was battling for 13th as the race unfolded, Ryusei Yamanaka ahead with Holgado behind. VisionTrack’s Ogden maintaining his grid spot as Stefano Nepa and home hero Lorenzo Fellon battled ahead.
The mid-pack pace increased as the third lap fired up. Foggia leading Masia and Suzuki with Garcia and Migno neatly in check before the KTM took charge. Öncü and Sasaki headed Tatay and Guevara as the CFMoto got the better of the Aspar man midway through lap four. While Ogden’s French GP ended dramatically at turn six.
Garcia was through on Suzuki for third with ten laps to go, Masia holding a tenth gap out front with Migno dropping to the back of the top nine. Moreira issued with a long lap penalty after a turn four shortcut as the MT Helmets’ rider dropped to the back of the points.
McPhee circulated on the edge of the top ten and at the head of the second group as lap seven began. Guevara three-tenths ahead as he looked to reel him in. The Gaviota rider’s battle with Migno aiding the Scot in his ventures.
Öncü bettered Suzuki for fourth next time around as Masia was joined by Garcia out front. Foggia running in the final podium place at half race distance with Sasaki the man on the move from sixth.
The Husqvarna was into the top five through Garage Vert with Guevara hot on his wheels. Öncü easily dispatched by the pair as the Tech3 dropped to seventh with Sasaki quickly capturing Garcia for fourth moments later. McPhee briefly into the top ten before he was dispatched two positions on the straight with four to go.
Foggia was back in charge as lap 11 counted down, Sasaki joining the podium in second with Masia third before the KTM struck back down the home straight. Suzuki just 0.07s adrift of his countryman for the final podium position.
Xavi Artigas crashed out at turn seven from the fringes of the points scoring positions while his PruestelGP teammate battled a pair of KTMs at the back the top ten. Öncü falling into the path of McPhee in 11th as the penultimate lap played out.
One to go and Foggia held Masia by a mere 0.007s before the Red Bull rider struck back, Sasaki likewise dropping the Italian to third as Suzuki lost out to Guevara for fourth. Sasaki was in the lead as the final sector began before Masia returned the move through the final corner to take the victory by 0.15s, his second of the season. Guevara completing the podium to deny both the Leopards in the dying seconds.
Foggia crossed the line fourth from Suzuki with Tatay, Garcia and Yamanaka rounding out the top eight. Öncü, Migno and Holgado headed McPhee in 12th with Rossi, Moreira and Toba collecting the final points.