A frantic Moto3 race saw Leopard’s Dennis Foggia victorious at Mugello as the Italian held off former teammate, Jaume Masia, by 0.03s to celebrate a home win.
With the entire top-10 separated by less than a second as they crossed the line after 20-laps around the 5.2km Tuscan circuit, it was anyone’s guess who would be out front as the final lap fired up. Gabriel Rodrigo denying Ayumu Sasaki for the final podium by 0.095s as a determined John McPhee was rewarded with seventh.
A subdued Mugello greeted the Moto3 riders ahead of the ItalianGP, with no fans in attendance and the paddocks thoughts with Jason Dupasquier as the PruestelGP rider undergoes treatment in nearby Florence hospital after Saturday’s qualifying accident - Dupasquier’s teammate Ryusei Yamanaka choosing to withdraw from the race.
As the lights released, Pedro Acosta took the hole-shot from his second place start, the KTM retaining control as the opening lap unfolded with Rodrigo and pole-man Tatsuki Suzuki in hot pursuit. Adrian Fernandez and wildcard Alberto Surra fell foul of turn one as the contest began before a dramatic three-rider crash left Max Kofler, Carlos Tatay and race-favourite Andrea Migno in the gravel at turn seven - Deniz Öncü finding himself in the same situation despite not being involved in the collision.
Back at the front and Acosta had Foggia battling for position, the Leopard rider’s teammate Xavier Artigas getting the signal to start his double long lap penalty after slow riding during Saturday’s qualifying.
Darryn Binder was up to third after three laps of action, before Romano Fenati made his presence felt, pushing through to take second and bringing Suzuki and Rodrigo back with him as Acosta dropped to 10th. Fenati took charge of his home race on lap four with fellow Italian, Foggia fighting back a few corners later as the Husqvarna dropped to fifth. Suzuki was the next to lead as lap five began, with the leading group consisting of 10 men as the squabbling for position continued.
The top-15 concertinaed together as the race played out, McPhee sitting in 13th, his Petronas teammate now back in fifth with Acosta ahead. Foggia returned to the front on lap seven as the South African joined him in second, Rodrigo and Fenati heading the championship leader with Suzuki, Ayumu Sasaki, Stefano Nepa and Jeremy Alcoba following closely behind.
Lap eight began with Acosta charging through to lead, Foggia biting back half a lap later with Suzuki looking to do likewise. A mid-group battle saw Binder down to eighth as Fenati made his way back through, Sasaki and Masia using the slipstream to join the Max Racing man in sixth and seventh.
Foggia and Suzuki continued to battle for command as the top-10 positions flickered repeatedly. McPhee settling into a confident rhythm in 12th as he bided his time, watching the fight play out ahead.
10 to go and the front group swallowed each other up as they came through turn one en masse. Acosta dropping from third to 10th with Foggia retaining the lead, but with Suzuki on the move once again, it wouldn’t be for long. The next revolution saw the SIC58 rider two-tenths clear of Rodrigo and Binder with Sergio Garcia sitting fourth. The KTM’s of Acosta, Sasaki and Masia were the next to charge as they swept through to the top-five, with the rookie sensation finding second as Rodrigo clung on to third.
McPhee was into the top-10 with seven laps left to run, gaining another place before the first sector was complete before claiming one more as the lap concluded. Dramatically, the Scot was in the lead as the next lap got going, Binder sitting fourth as Fenati and Sasaki filled the Petronas sandwich.
Fenati was back in charge as lap six wound down, McPhee dropping to fifth as the pack bunched at the end of the straight and they peeled in to San Donato, unfortunate to find himself in ninth as the dust settled.
Four laps to go and Binder was out front, Acosta and Sasaki on a challenge as Rodrigo joined the KTM’s for top-three honours with the number-40 demoted to fourth but the race wasn’t done yet. Not one to shy away from a fight, Binder was back by the final sector, Fenati and Acosta now his closest adversaries as the championship leader hit back once again. The three-way brawl continued through the closing stages as the trio took turns to lead, Fenati gaining ground as the penultimate lap began and the group swallowed the other two on the final corner.
Foggia was back as the final lap got underway, Fenati and Rodrigo behind as McPhee looked briefly in contention before dropping to ninth as the group shuffled once again.
The Italian held fast as the finish line approached, denying a late charge from Masia to take a home victory - the second win of his Moto3 career and first since Brno last year. Masia and Rodrigo joined the Leopard rider on the podium with Sasaki holding off Binder for fourth and fifth. Fenati was forced to settle for sixth from Acosta and Garcia with McPhee consolidating his grid place start, in ninth place. Suzuki concluded the top-10 from Filip Salac, Kaito Toba and Niccolò Antonelli with Nepa and Alcoba receiving the final points. Late penalties saw Acosta and Garcia drop a position each with McPhee the recipient, as the Scot advanced to seventh after the flag.