Romano Fenati claimed a historic victory in the Spanish Moto3 Grand Prix atJerez.
The Italian, in only his second start, emerged victorious after a thrilling race held in exceptionally difficult conditions that saw over half of the 33 rider field crash.
With slick tyres and patches of rain on the track surface action was guaranteed from the off and at the Nieto Corner on the opening tour Jack Miller, Danny Kent and Simone Grotskyj were all caught out by the conditions with Australian high siding out of a top three position.
Kent and Miller were brought to the medical centre for a check up and both were cleared of injury but they would not be the last riders to be bitten by the treacherous conditions.
At the start Alex Rins initially converted his pole position but by the back straight Jakub Kornfeil had already shot from fifth on the grid into the lead ahead of Rins, Fenati and Arthur Sissis.
It was three rookies in the leading four positions and the Moto3 class showed just how level a playing field there is in the new class. With no previous data and with no one rider or team enjoying a specific equipments advantage, as opposed to in the past when Aprilia supplied factory bikes to only a select few, the class has allowed rider talent to shine.
Maverick Vinales was victorious at the season opening Qatar Grand Prix but the Spaniard was caught out by the damp patches at Nieto on the second lap and ran off the track while running in fifth position.
The incident cost him 20s and he spent the rest of the race trying to battle through the field. Ultimately Vinales would move from 22nd position to an eventual sixth place finish after a solid effort of damage limitation.
Miguel Oliveira set the pace throughout the wet weather sessions this weekend but the Portuguese rider will be left to rue what might have been. Having taken the lead on the second lap, by barging past Kornfeil at the final corner, it seemed that he would be well placed for a maiden victory but a crash just half a dozen corners later robbed him of that opportunity.
To make matters worse for Oliveira themarshallstook his bike from the track as he pleaded with them to let him continue the race.
At the end of the lap Kornfeil’s race ended with the Czech rider having a spectacular save from a potential high side and riding side saddle into the gravel before crashing on the Astroturf run off beside the kerbing.
Kornfeil seemed to have done enough to save the incident but in his haste to rejoin the race he was too aggressive and with his bike lying on the track there was nowhere for Brad Binder to go and the Australian’s race ended at the same time.
The opening stages of the race saw a spate of accidents before the race started to settle down with Rins leading from Fenati and Louis Rossi. A six second gap had opened between the leading trio and their pursuers with Luis Salom, Sandro Cortese and Alex Masbou leading the chasing pack.
Even with the damp patches and puddles Rins was pushing exceptionally hard and using the kerbs on the exits of numerous corners. The reigning Spanish 125cc champion showed no fear of the painted white lines which are usually so treacherous in the damp conditions.
Rins started to pull away from Fenati as the race neared one quarter distance but the Italian and Rossi edged back towards the race leader and by the ninth lap the trio were as one and fighting tooth and nail.
With block passes and aggressive moves dominating this section of the race it seemed as though was fighting as if it were the last lap. For Rossi however it was his final lap with the Frenchman crashing at turn one having lost the front end.
This left Rins and Fenati in the lead with the pair opening an ever more comfortable gap to the group of Salom, Cortese and Masbou.
Fenati and Rins traded places until just past half distance when Rins crashed at turn one and handed Fenati a comfortable 16s lead. The Italian never looked under pressure again and enjoyed the final laps as he moved effortlessly towards his victory.
Even with such a comfortable lead however Fenati continued to press hard and he set a series of fastest laps in the closing stages as he opened an eventual 35s victory margin to become the first Italian to claim a 125cc/Moto3 victory since Andrea Iannone in 2009.
Rins rejoined the race just ahead of the battle for third and the tussle continued until the end of the race with Masbou gradually losing ground. The chasing trio traded positions numerous times but it was always Salom who held back.
The Spaniard showed mature race craft to leap into second on the penultimate lap and with Cortese held up by backmarkers it seemed that it would Salom and Rins joining Fenati on the rostrum.
Cortese however showed his experience and refused to panic and eased past Rins on the final lap to claim a second consecutive third place finish.
The day however belonged to Fenati with the victory making the rookie the third youngest GP winner in history. He showed inQatarthat he had the potential to become a star but inJereza star was born.