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MotoGP Le Mans: Vietti takes Moto3 win as McPhee is wiped out

A late move from Celestino Vietti granted the Italian his second Moto3 victory of his career after a dramatic four-rider battle with Jaume Masia, Tony Arbolino and Albert Arenas.

The latter duo joined the Sky VR46 rider on the Le Mans podium as Masia lost out, the Leopard man having lead for the majority of the 22-lap contest. A dramatic mid-race incident saw John McPhee taken out by Jeremy Alcoba, his championship hopes fading as a result.

After a strong weekend’s performance, McPhee launched from the front row of the Moto3 French GP but it was Arenas who stole the holeshot, a bad start for the Scot moving him down to ninth as the pack swallowed him up. Arbolino immediately charged after the leader, moving on Masia to take second, with Raul Fernandez and Gabriel Rodrigo sitting fourth and fifth. With Arenas pulling a gap at the front, the battle began between Arbolino and Masia, the Leopard machine winning out on the next lap as McPhee dropped further into the mid-pack in 11th. His difficult start, however, was nothing in comparison to that of Ai Ogura, circulating in a painful 24th after two laps of action.


Back at the front and Masia made his move on Arenas, taking the lead as the duo attempted to break from the pursuing group, Vietti, however, had other ideas, denying their wishes as the concertina contracted and sliding through into fourth as he relegated the Aspar rider further. With Masia looking strong, the podium struggle began as Arbolino, Arenas, a hard-charging Darryn Binder and Rodrigo battled for position while the pace increased, the South African setting the fastest lap of the race so far as he captured second.

16 laps to go saw disaster for the Husqvarna squad as both Lopez and Fenati skittled out in tandem at turn 13, Tatsuki Suzuki falling foul at turn eight on the next revolution after finding impressive speed.

The mid-race saw Arenas hot on the wheels of Masia and trying everything to find a way through, the opportunity finally coming at La Chappelle as the Spaniard swept passed taking Binder and Arbolino with him, the dejected Leopard man finding himself regrouping in fourth.

Ogura finally started to make advances as the race ticked down but having made his way through to just 20th with 10 laps to go it was looking like a mammoth effort for the Japanese rider.

The 15th lap saw Masia reassert his prowess, taking the lead as the front pack shuffled again, Arbolino holding second from Binder with Vietti fending off Arenas as he fell to fifth. McPhee continued to circulate on the fringes of the top-10 as the Scot bided his time before making a move.

Heartbreak struck for Binder with seven to go as his Green Power KTM looked to seize, narrowly avoiding disaster as he saved the highside deep in the midst of the tightly-packed front-group before retiring his machine and watching the remaining action from the sidelines. The drama continuing in the final four laps as McPhee’s race also ended early, Jeremy Alcoba’s Gresini swiping the devastated Scot out of contention at turn 10.

The penultimate lap saw Arenas move on Arbolino for second with Vietti closely behind before the Sky rider took his turn at the front, demoting the squabbling pair with Masia the biggest loser now off the podium and down to fourth.

As the final lap began it was the championship leader finally making the impressive gains, entering the top-10 in ninth while the battle at the front continued. Vietti held fast to take the victory from the Snipers rider with Arenas capturing the final podium position, a disappointed Masia and Andrea Migno concluding the top-five. Ayumu Sasaki, Fernandez and Rodrigo took sixth to eighth with the late-charging Ogura consolidating ninth and Carlos Tatay rounding out the top-10. Sergio Garcia, Filip Salac, Dennis Foggia, Ricardo Rossi and Stefano Nepa concluded the points finishers.

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