Red Bull KTM Ajo’s rookie sensation Pedro Acosta completed the Algarve GP with a race win and a Moto3 World Championship title.
A dramatic and nail biting race-long battle ended prematurely with Dennis Foggia knocked out of second on the final lap, Andrea Migno and Niccolò Antonelli inheriting the podium celebrations in the ensuing chaos.
Sergio Garcia returned from injury to head the Algarve GP grid, the GasGas rider out of contention for the Moto3 title due to his recent absence but eager for a result in his first 21-lap race back. Lining up in the middle of the front row - his first since the season opener - John McPhee was also back to full fitness after his bout of flu last time out with Adrian Fernandez alongside, despite a heavy turn-seven warm-up crash this morning.
Foggia sat fourth with his title rival 10 places behind on the fifth row. Acosta looking for a win to seal his championship challenge, the Italian out to delay the result all the way to Valencia’s final.
Garcia took the holeshot as the lights released with Fernandez jumping McPhee for second, Kaito Toba crashing out at the opening corner as Xavi Artigas swept through to fourth. Fernandez had a brief look at the front as lap one concluded before Foggia came through from fifth to take control down the straight and into turn one.
Darryn Binder attacked for second as the second lap unfolded, the Petronas rider up from seventh on the grid as Acosta did likewise to sixth. McPhee travelling in the opposite direction as he found himself dropped to seventh.
Foggia, Binder and Garcia sat out front before the pole-sitter was swallowed by the chasing group, Fernandez inheriting third with Artigas playing bodyguard to his teammate’s rival as Acosta progressed to fifth.
The rookie sensation was desperate to get through to the front as Foggia attempted to check out, half-a-second separating him from the pursuing South African as Artigas attacked on the second Leopard.
Acosta challenged Binder for position at the end of lap four but the Petronas Honda fought back, McPhee trailing Acosta in fifth before disaster struck the Scot at turn 13.
Binder was back on Foggia’s tail next time round as Acosta swept through to third at turn five. Artigas continuing to defend against the KTM as the pair bickered for position. Migno headed the second group, in fifth, with six laps dispatched. Jaume Masia heading Garcia, Fernandez and Antonelli as Jeremy Alcoba completed the top 10 at one-third distance.
The leading duo were inseparable as lap eight began, Acosta a further tenth behind as the race heated up with Artigas remaining in the mix.
Migno dragged the group up to the battle with 13 to go, the Rivacold Snipers rider firmly on the wheel of Artigas with Masia following suit.
Acosta bettered Binder at the sweeping turn five as the title rivals sat one and two. The Algarve GP beginning to mirror the previous April battle as Acosta looked to amend the result. A brief lead was denied as the Ajo rider ran wide at the opening corner, Foggia and Binder both capitalising as they returned to control, with Masia joining his teammate for third and fourth.
Acosta hit back moments later with a late turn 13 attack, Masia following once again as Binder dropped to fourth, then fifth, as Antonelli joined the fun.
The Avintia VR46 man was running strong as he progressed to third before the turn one gaggle sent him back to sixth.
A 13-rider train led the way with nine laps to go, as Masia barged through on Foggia, with the Leopard dropped to third, the KTM immediately letting his teammate into the lead at turn five and running interference to his rival behind.
Masia’s speed saw him back in control as lap 14 began, Acosta falling to sixth as Garcia claimed second from Foggia, Migno and Binder.
Foggia returned to the front with seven left to run, Binder utilising the slipstream down the straight to secure second until Garcia hit back five corners later. The duo continuing to dice as the lap played out.
Acosta was stuck behind Masia with six to go as the number five advanced on Garcia, the KTM pair claiming the spoils until the GasGas hit back with a late lunge at five.
Foggia maintained a tight lead from Binder with 17 laps complete, Acosta attempting a move on the South African that proved successful for just three corners before it was replicated at turn 13.
Four to go and the title fight was inseparable at the front of the field, Binder holding on for the final podium position before Migno arrived. Acosta hitting the front at turn three with three to go.
A turn five tangle pushing Garcia through to third and Masia down in the dust with Binder falling to eighth in the aftermath.
The power of Foggia down the straight was clear to see, bringing the Leopard back into contention as the penultimate lap began. The advantage swapping once again with a determined turn 11 move as ‘the Rocket’ dug deep. Heartbreak hit at turn three however, as Binder clattered the Italian out of the race, his title fight destroyed in the dust.
Acosta swept through to take the Moto3 World Championship with a Portimao race win, Migno and Antonelli completing the podium in the final chaos with Binder coming home in fourth.
Alcoba claimed fifth from Izan Guevara and Ayumu Sasaki, the pair both dispatching long lap penalties to return to the top seven, Romano Fenati, Artigas and Tatsuki Suzuki rounding out the top 10. Filip Salac, Fernandez, Carlos Tatay and stand in riders Daniel Holgado and Joel Kelso collecting the final points on offer.
Binder attempted to apologise to Foggia after the race but was met by the wrath of the Leopard garage, the South African later disqualified from the results due to irresponsible riding with Alberto Surra promoted to 15th.