Leopard’s Xavi Artigas claimed the final, and his first, Moto3 victory of his rookie career after an electric battle throughout the ValenciaGP.
Title rivals Pedro Acosta and Dennis Foggia collided in the closing stages with the champion crashing out of the lead, Artigas, local rider Sergio Garcia and Jaume Masia collecting the spoils.
The first race of the finale weekend saw Moto3 World Champion Pedro Acosta head the grid, 23-laps of the unique Ricardo Tormo Circuit between him and the end of a historic 2021. Tatsuki Suzuki and Izan Guevara lined up alongside as the front row waited for the lights.
Acosta claimed the holeshot as the race ignited, Guevara challenging Suzuki for second before the SIC58 rider hit back. Multiple high-sides flooring Lorenzo Fellon and Darryn Binder with Ryusei Yamanaka left with no where to go at turn four, the incident shuffling the standings.
A mistake from Acosta moved Suzuki into the lead at turn three, next time around with the KTM regrouping and returning to the lead as the third lap began. Guevara holding fast in second as Suzuki dropped to sixth. Filip Salac filling he gap with Andrea Migno - showcasing one of many VR46 replica helmets - up to fourth.
A heated lap four battle saw Salac and Guevara battling for honours with Acosta defending hard from the duo behind. The GasGas rookie taking the lead as lap five got underway and Deniz Öncü arriving for third. Joel Kelso and Jose Antonio Rueda became the next victims of the Valencia track as the CIP machine high sided in the path of the Gresini at the second corner, their impressive stand-in rides coming to an abrupt and early end.
Back at the front and Acosta was back in charge from Guevara and Salac, Sergio Garcia running fourth from Öncü and Suzuki with Xavi Artigas heading Jaume Masia, Dennis Foggia and Migno in the top 10.
John McPhee circulated 14th after seven laps of action, Ayumu Sasaki, Romano Fenati and Stefano Nepa ahead with Carlos Tatay the last of the points scorers with a third of the race dispatched.
Guevara maintained pressure on Acosta before a turn two attempt dropped him to fourth. Öncü hitting the front at the start of lap nine as the Tech3 machine bettered the factory representative, at least for now.
The KTM battle continued as the race unfolded, Salac firming in the mix with Masia now up to join the fun in fourth. The top 12 forming a train as Niccolò Antonelli headed the second group, just over two seconds adrift.
Honda Asia’s Yuki Kunii was the next to fall, after losing the front at turn 14 as lap 10 concluded.
Öncü led from Masia and Acosta with 12 laps to go, Garcia running fourth from Artigas, Guevara and Foggia as Masia took charge, from 23rd on the grid.
Garcia briefly took the lead over the line as lap 13 got underway before Artigas hit the front, Acosta keeping his cool before reaffirming his dominance half a lap later. The Leopard was back on the home straight with the intense five-rider battle continuing at almost ever corner. Öncü the next to capitalise once again.
Less than a second covered the top 10 with 14 laps completed, Acosta back in control from Artigas and Öncü, with the Turk given a long lap penalty for repeated track limits infringements. Salac facing the same fate next time around. Dispatched, the pair dropped to 11th and 12th respectively. The penalty bringing Antonelli into the final group as it now extended to 16 riders, with McPhee at its tail.
Suzuki crashed out at turn one with six laps to go, Masia out front from Acosta and Garcia with the Leopard duo of Artigas and Foggia heading Guevara and an immediately regrouped Öncü.
Garcia hit the front as Öncü was dropped to 10th on the next lap, but the KTM’s returned to lock out the front once again as the circuit concluded. Masia leading Acosta before the blue bikes arrived, Artigas giving way to his teammate as Foggia swept through.
The Acosta/Foggia battle began once more with four laps of the race remaining. Artigas running interference from third with Öncü recovering again to claim fourth. Garcia sat fifth from an equally rejuvenated Salac as the final three laps played out, with Alberto Surra also leaving the action early.
The late-season needle-match ignited the action for the final two laps with Acosta pulling though on his rival before the pair collided. Acosta crashing out at turn two with Foggia dropped to seventh. Garcia and Artigas were left to battle with Migno following his Rivacold Snipers teammate into the gravel with one lap to go.
Artigas claimed the final victory, just 0.043s ahead of Garcia with Masia completing the closing podium celebrations. Salac came home fourth from Öncü’s impressive performance in fifth.
Foggia settled for sixth at the flag heading Nepa, Guevara, Tatay and Antonelli in the top 10 with Sasaki, Fenati, McPhee, Adrian Fernandez - having dispatched his own double long lap penalty - and Jeremy Alcoba bringing home the final points.
A late penalty dropped Fenati one position after the flag with McPhee promoted to 12th, the Scot recieving a further boost after Foggia was docked three seconds due to his part in Acosta’s crash - the number 7 sitting 13th in the final standings with McPhee up to 11th.