LOSAIL. Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) became the first Japanese winner in the lightweight class since Tomoyoshi Koyama took victory in the 125cc race at the 2007 Catalan GP after a stunning ride in the Moto3™ race at the VisitQatar Grand Prix.
Toba started third on the grid but it was polesitter Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) who got the initial good launch from the line to lead into Turn 1, with Toba slotting into P2 ahead of second on the grid Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing).
There was drama on the opening lap further back though, with Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai), Tom Booth-Amos (CIP – Green Power), Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) crashing out of contention at Turn 6, with the already injured Masia heading to the medical centre for a checkup. The lead swapped and changed between several riders.
it was Toba who led onto the final lap, with the Leopard Racing duo tucked in behind. The Japanese rider got his head down and suddenly, himself, Dalla Porta and Canet had forged a small gap to the following pack as it soon became a three-way fight for the win. Coming into Turn 16, Dalla Porta had the advantage but Toba used the slipstream to full effect, powering past his fellow Honda rider down the straight to take the chequered flag in P1, becoming the first Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup Champion to win a Grand Prix. Dalla Porta settled for P2, with Canet coming home third to give himself and Max Biaggi a podium in Qatar.
Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) managed to bring his Honda home in P4, with Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) crossing the line in fifth to get his rookie Moto3™ season off to a great start. Arenas, a contender for the win throughout, beat reigning Junior Moto3™ World Champion and teammate Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) to the line by 0.028 – 6th and 7th respectively for the duo.
2016 Qatar GP winner Antonelli was just 0.004 off Fernandez in P8, with Fenati salvaging P9 after looking odds on for at least a podium on his return. Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) rounded out the top ten, less than a second from the win.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta: P2
"It's been an amazing race and I've really had fun. Throughout the race the tyre hasn't dropped so much, the team has done a very good job. I'm very happy, my strategy hasn't been perfect but in the end a second position is a nice result. I wanted the victory and I've tried until the end and that is positive. We will try again in Argentina!"
Tony Arbolino: P16
"It was a difficult weekend as we suffered in different conditions. In the race we started really well and, with new tires, the grip was good and I could stay ahead. I tried to save as I knew I would have suffered the drop of the tires and that it was. Now, we have to work more with used tires and prepare the set up of the bike according to this.”
Jaume Masia: N.C.
"Very difficult situations experienced this weekend ... We know that it was not our place, and that's why we will not stop trying. My team and I will go with everything to the next race! See you in Argentina!"