Ajo KTM’s Pedro Acosta continued to stun the paddock by claiming a sensational second Moto3 win at Portimao, besting Dennis Foggia on the last lap.
Having lead for the majority of the 21-lap contest, Foggia lost out to the lightweight class rookie as the race reached its climax, with the pair split by just 0.051 across the line. Pole-man Andrea Migno fought back from fifth to recover the final podium position.
There was drama in the Moto3 class before the 21-lap race had even begun as two late-issued penalties saw a grid shake up. Darryn Binder joined his teammate John McPhee in starting from the pitlane as the Portuguese GP grid lined up, the South African has a direct start, with McPhee suffering further with a 10-second delay thanks to his gravel scuffle with Jeremy Alcoba in Doha. The Gresini rider will also start from the pitlane, slightly in front of the Scot with a five-second delay, Deniz Öncü receiving the same penalty for his irresponsible riding in Saturday’s Q2.
With the riders in position, and perfect conditions on track, the lights went out with Migno launching from the coveted pole position. The Snipers Honda maintained his control as the race got underway, Xavier Artigas and Foggia swooping in behind with Sergio Garcia claiming fourth. The fightback from the penalised riders started in earnest as Garcia made him move for third, the Leopard duo besting the pole man as the second lap began with the Aspar machine firmly in the mix. Migno fought back, advancing to third on Foggia as the pack reached the third sector, Pedro Acosta now on the hunt from fifth.
Artigas was in charge as lap three began, McPhee 20 seconds back with Binder 10 ahead of his fellow Petronas. Migno returned to the front as the Leopard riders worked together to hold off the rookie KTM, before disaster struck Artigas at the start of lap four, his promising race over before it had really begun. Back at the front Foggia battled Acosta with the duo repeatedly swapping positions as the lap played out, Garcia and Migno fighting for the scraps behind. Tatsuki Suzuki was now circulating in fifth from Gabriel Rodrigo, Ayumu Sasaki and Jame Masia, with Romano Fenati and Niccolò Antonelli completing the early top-10.
Foggia was running mid 1’48 pace as he looked to break the hungry KTM behind, Garcia and Migno still battling for the final podium position as lap seven began before Rodrigo joined the fight as he pushed through for fourth. Sasaki and Masia advancing on Suzuki as Kaito Toba and Izan Guevara crashed out at turn three. Rodrigo dropping to 15th having contested the lead, after taking a long-lap penalty.
12 laps to go and Binder was three-seconds off the back of the final grid-starting rider, McPhee a further seven-seconds adrift of his teammate. Foggia remained in charge with Acosta and Garcia firmly on his wheels, Migno with Suzuki now for company in fifth. Rodrigo was on a charge as he worked his way back through the mid-pack, the Gresini rider lapping with 1’47.7 pace as he looked to return to the front battle, now 11th.
Nine laps to go and both Alcoba and Öncü had caught the pack, the pair running 20th and 21st with impressive pace, while the Petronas riders seeming to struggle behind.
Masia was up to third, neatly behind his teammate as lap 14 concluded with fellow KTM, Sasaki claiming fourth as he battled once again with Migno. The determined Italian was far from done, however, as he took two places in one to make his way back into podium contention with the battle losing to play out for the remaining six laps. Rodrigo’s effort was paying off as he advanced to seventh, Adrian Fernandez and Suzuki the next to fall foul of turn three.
Five to go and Alcoba was in the points, sitting 14th ahead of his Turkish companion, a nine-strong group now commanding the race. Migno was back in control as the next lap began, Rodrigo pushing through to sixth moments later as Filip Salac received a track limits warning, from 13th. Foggia hit back before lap four was complete, Acosta once again firmly in his slipstream, for second, as the Snipers rider was dropped to fourth.
The penultimate lap began with Migno returning to third, Foggia firmly out in front, a tenth ahead of the KTM, with Garcia, Masia, Sasaki and Rodrigo still narrowly behind as the race wound down.
The last lap allowed Antonelli and Fenati to attack as the Italians slid through for sixth and seventh, Garcia saving a dramatic moment as he dropped to eighth just before Masia fell at turn five.
A last corner battle saw Acosta take an incredible victory for the rookie’s second successive celebration, just 0.051 separating him from Foggia with Migno recovering to round out the podium. Sasaki claimed fourth from Rodrigo, Antonelli, Fenati and Garcia with Masia a miraculous ninth after his late crash. Ryusei Yamanaka took 10th from Stefano Nepa, Jason Dupasquier and Salac with Alcoba and Öncü fighting hard to conclude the points scoring positions. Yuki Kunii sat 16th from Carlos Tatay, Andi Farid Izdihar with Ricardo Rossi and Binder completing the top-20. Max Kofler, Lorenzo Fellon, McPhee and Guevara concluded the finishers.