The 2019 Moto3 season kicked off in typical chaotic Moto3 fashion as Kaito Toba claimed a historic first ever Moto3 victory ahead of Lorenzo Dalla Porta by a hairsbreadth at the QatarGP in Losail.
The Honda Team Asia rider capitalised on his impressive third-place qualifying position as he was consistently part of the lead group throughout the race. The lead group chopped and changed positions constantly throughout the race until the top three finally pulled away during the last lap as Toba made use of Dalla Porta’s slipstream as the pair ripped down the final straight to snatch not only the first victory of the year but also his first ever Moto3 victory.
Toba’s victory makes him the first Japanese rider to ever win a Moto3 race and also the first Japanese rider to win in a lightweight category since 2007.
Dalla Porta joined Toba on the podium in second position after being beaten to the win by only 0.053s. Dalla Porta had lead across the line for the majority of the race, making use of the slipstream from the likes of Romano Fenati and Aron Canet but, in ironic fashion, it was his own slipstream that caused him to lose out on the victory.
Poleman Aron Canet rounded out the podium finishes as yet another win eluded him. Canet had got off to a strong start but was unable to put any gap between himself and the chasing pack as he was quickly caught. However, Canet fought back to lead the field on multiple occasions but he was unable to keep a hold on the top spot and had to settle for third.
Marcos Ramirez made up an incredible 16 positions to finish the weekend in fourth position on his new Leopard Racing machine alongside Sky Racing Team VR46’s extremely impressive rookie Celestino Vietti in fifth. The Sama Qatar Angel Nieto team duo of Albert Arenas and Raul Fernández finished in sixth and seventh respectively ahead of Niccolö Antonelli who seems to have unearthed some new-found pace in eighth.
The returning Romano Fenati made an absolute howler of a mistake which dropped him down from the leading pack to 12thafter he misread a ‘track limits warning’ message and pre-eminently took the new wide loop penalty. He was able to climb back up the field but only managed a ninth-place finish. This is the second time this weekend that Fenati has fallen foul to a mistake as a qualifying mistake on Saturday saw him leave it too late to improve on his qualifying position. The Italian rider displayed a far calmer demeanour than in previous years as he tries to put his sordid past behaviour behind him and start afresh.
Moto3 veteran Jakub Kornfeil was only able to manage a 10thplace finish ahead of Japanese rookie Ai Ogura. Alonso Lopez made up nine places during the race from 21stto finish in 12thahead of Petronas Sprinta Racing rider John McPhee in 13th. McPhee’s Sunday was an absolute horror show as the Scot found himself running in 19thvery early on in the race but luckily, he was able to claw back some positions to finish 13thahead of Andrea Migno in 14th.
Injured Gabriel Rodrigo rounded out the points finishers in 15thposition. The Argentinian rider who underwent surgery for a fractured collarbone less than a week had been running further within the top group, but fatigue seemed to get the better of him as he dropped back into 15th.
Snipers Team rider Tony Arbolino was part of the lead group and even briefly lead the race for a time but unfortunately, he had to settle outside the points in 16thalongside rookies Vicente Perez and Valencia winner Can Öncü in 17thand 18threspectively. Kazuki Masaki recovered from an early incident to finish in 19thahead of Sergio Garcia’s stand-in Ryusei Yamanaka in 20th. Masaki was involved in an early race crash which saw both Dennis Foggia and Tatsuki Suzuki retire. The fairly tricky incident saw Foggia caught in the skittles effect of the crash and look less than impressed with the outcome as he was shown sarcastically clapped as the trio picked themselves up. Luckily, Masaki was able to rejoin and finish the race but it was an early exit was the remaining pair.
Rookies Filip Salač and Riccardo Rossi both suffered crashes in qualifying yesterday and started from the back of the grid. Unfortunately, neither was able to make much headway and finished 21stand 22ndahead of ‘returning rookie’ Makar Yurchenko in 23rd.
Tom Booth-Amos rounds out the grid in 24th. The British rider was involved in a first lap crash with Petronas Sprinta Racing rider Ayumu Sasaki and the already injured Jaume Masia as his late-breaking caused him to collide with Masia who then skittles into Sasaki, causing the pair of them to retire. Booth-Amos was able to rejoin the race but finished three laps down. Unfortunately for CIP Green Power, this was not the end of their heartbreak as Darryn Binder suffered an unaided crash mid-race and was unable to rejoin.
All results here.
As we wave goodbye to Losail for another year and look towards the rest of the season with much anticipation, there is one question on everyone’s lips: how on Earth are we going to top this weekend?
Next stop, Argentina!