Gaviota GasGas Aspar’s Izan Guevara claimed victory in both race and title fight after a dramatic all-action Moto3 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
A lights to flag four-rider fight saw the Spaniard leave nothing on the table as he celebrated the spoils of an electric season with Tech3 KTM’s Deniz Öncü and teammate Sergio Garcia completing the podium.
After heavy overnight rain a wet track greeted the Moto3 class for warm up with damp patches still scattered across the Victorian circuit - including at the bottom of Lukey Heights - as the 23-lap race prepared. Guevara lining up from seventh on the grid for one of the most important days in his world championship career with Sterilgarda Husqvarna’s Ayumu Sasaki on pole.
VisionTrack’s number 19 Scott Ogden began his 19th birthday from 19th on the Australian GP grid with teammate Josh Whatley 29th, while morning warm-up’s runner-up John McPhee sat 16th after a tricky Saturday.
A brief delay due to track conditions was broken as the lights released the 30-strong pack with Aspar’s Garcia immediately grabbing the holeshot from MT Helmets’ Diogo Moreira and MTA’s Ivan Ortola. Guevara battled on the fringes of the top six as title-rival Dennis Foggia dropped to 15th on the Leopard Honda.
Sasaki advanced back to third as the second lap began, before making waves to second, Moreira taking charge moments later but it was the Austria winner who would take charge as the lap concluded. Home talent Joel Kelso set the fastest lap of the race as the CIP Green Power rider battled in the top seven, KTM’s Daniel Holgado and Honda’s Taiyo Furusato out on lap three after crashes at the Hayshed.
The Southern Loop found Guevara round the outside of the pursuing group as he pushed his way up to third, the championship leader immediately dispatched one position as he circulated on the edge of podium contention with teammate Garcia back in charge overall and Kelso now running fifth.
McPhee advanced to seventh as lap five played out. Kelso and teammate Sasaki now in his sights with Stefano Nepa and David Muñoz narrowly behind, before the group shuffled in the slipstream once again. Tech3’s Deniz Öncü winning out over Guevara for fourth.
Garcia held a half second advantage out front as the race approached one-third distance. Kelso saving a moment after contact with Moreira in the front group battle, CFMoto’s Carlos Tatay dropped to 12th.
It was an Aspar one-two as lap eight fired up, Garcia leading Guevara with points enough to see the 18-year-old crowned champion two races early if things stayed as is. Guevara staking his claim for the title with a move for outright victory next time around.
Öncü trailed the GasGas riders by half a second in the final podium position as lap ten began. Sasaki dispatching the Turk on the run down to Doohan with Kelso back in fifth. McPhee, Moreira, Nepa and the Leopards of Foggia and Tatsuki Suzuki rounding out the top ten fight.
Sasaki was on the hunt with 13 to go as he returned to second, Guevara under threat until his teammate swept back through to defend next time around. The number 11 taking charge overall through the newly renamed Miller corner with second still enough for championship glory for the 28.
Stoner corner claimed the birthday boy with 11 to go, Ogden conscious but shaken after the heavy crash as Guevara took charge out front once again.
McPhee got through to head the second group with eight to go as his teammate took charge of the race. The leading battle four abreast down the home straight as Garcia swept back through to first with positions continuing to switch as the action intensified in the final third.
The Scot had over five seconds to bridge as he once again outmanoeuvred his own pack of four in the battle for fifth. Nepa back through moments later as Guevara made similar moves for the outright lead.
Five to go and the title fight looked set for Malaysia as Guevara dropped off the podium, Garcia back in charge from Öncü and Sasaki before the Husqvarna took his next shot for victory. Suzuki out at Miller from the back of the top ten after a difficult weekend down under.
Four to go and Guevara returned to the lead but the Japanese rider was far from done, the slipstream promoting him once again down the Gardner straight with an inter-team battle playing out for second.
An Aspar one-two returned for the penultimate lap as Sasaki looked to spoil the show, Öncü the man on the move as the final lap began with his own strike for victory with Guevara again bettering through the Southern Loop.
A nail biting finish saw Mario Aji and Ryusei Yamanaka crash out, Guevara meeting the flag first for victory in both the race and the 2022 Moto3 Championship from Öncü and Garcia with Sasaki settling for fourth.
Nepa claimed fourth from McPhee while a video finish for seventh went the way of Moreira over local rider Kelso. Foggia and Sic58’s Riccardo Rossi rounding out the top ten from Muñoz, Tatay and Ortola while CFMoto’s Xavi Artigas and KtM Ajo’s Jaume Masia picked up the final points.