Albert Arenas claimed his second consecutive victory of the 2020 Moto3 season after prevailing in a thrilling fight with John McPhee and Tony Arbolino in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Moto3 and Moto2 were the only classes to have their season-openers in Qatar back in March before the coronavirus-enforced hiatus MotoGP had to take, with Sunday's Jerez Moto3 race marking the first grand prix in four months.
SIC58 Squadra Corse's Tatsuki Suzuki started the second round of the season from pole position and held the lead in the opening laps, but was unable to pull away from the chasing pack.
That allowed Celestino Vietti to outbrake the Japanese rider heading into the hairpin on Lap four of 22, having slowly crept up the pack after starting from fifth on the grid on the VR46 KTM.
Vietti's stint at the front lasted for eight laps, before first Tony Arbolino and then Arenas snatched the lead from the VR46 rider.
Arenas wasn't able to make a break either, but was doing enough to hold off the remainder of the field led by Arbolino.
However, with five laps to go, Arbolino was able to take advantage of the slipstream to hit the front for the first time, with Arenas running slightly wide to allow Darryn Binder to also get through too.
At that point, McPhee - who had slipped to 10th earlier after making a sluggish start from the outside of the front row - took advantage of the situation to dispatch Arenas, Binder and Arbolino in quick succession to seize the lead.
However, the race was still far from settled, as Arbolino then engaged in a thrilling scrap with McPhee for the top spot on the podium.
McPhee started the final lap in the lead, having re-passed Arbolino at the final corner on the previous tour, but the Snipers rider was able to overtake his Petronas Sprinta rival at the hairpin to shake up the order once again.
McPhee made a lunge going into the final corner as a last-ditch effort to score his first win since Le Mans last year, but ran wide at the exit and crashing out of the race after contact with Arbolino.
Arenas emerged from the chaos to claim the top spot, adding to his victory from the Qatar round in March and taking a 14-point lead in the standings.
Honda Team Asia's Ai Ogura was the big gainer, demoting Arbolino to third at the chequered flag.
VR46's Andrea Migno, who at one point looked like a serious threat for a victory, finished fourth, ahead of his team-mate Vietti and the Ajo KTM of Raul Fernandez.
Gresini rider Gabriel Rodrigo was classified seventh ahead of Suzuki, with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Jaume Masia (Leopard) completing the top 10.
CIP's Binder crashed out with just two laps to go while in contention for a podium finish.
Picture courtesy of Dorna Sports
Moto3 Spanish Grand Prix Results - 22 laps
|1||Albert Arenas||Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3||KTM||39m26.256s|
|2||Ai Ogura||Honda Team Asia||Honda||0.340s|
|3||Tony Arbolino||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||0.369s|
|4||Andrea Migno||SKY Racing Team VR46||KTM||0.546s|
|5||Celestino Vietti||SKY Racing Team VR46||KTM||0.634s|
|6||Raul Fernandez||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||0.682s|
|7||Gabriel Rodrigo||Kommerling Gresini Moto3||Honda||0.753s|
|8||Tatsuki Suzuki||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||0.881s|
|9||Niccolo Antonelli||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||0.986s|
|10||Jaume Masia||Leopard Racing||Honda||3.646s|
|11||Ayumu Sasaki||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||3.751s|
|12||Stefano Nepa||Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3||KTM||3.936s|
|13||Romano Fenati||Sterilgarda Max Racing Team||Husqvarna||4.157s|
|14||Alonso Lopez||Sterilgarda Max Racing Team||Husqvarna||6.086s|
|15||Jeremy Alcoba||Kommerling Gresini Moto3||Honda||5.608s|
|16||Ryusei Yamanaka||Estrella Galicia 0,0||Honda||6.098s|
|17||Sergio Garcia||Estrella Galicia 0,0||Honda||6.256s|
|18||Darryn Binder||CIP - Green Power||KTM||17.642s|
|19||Kaito Toba||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||28.324s|
|20||Maximilian Kofler||CIP - Green Power||KTM||28.406s|
|21||Jason Dupasquier||CarXpert PruestelGP||KTM||28.640s|
|22||Khairul Idham Pawi||Petronas Sprinta Racing||Honda||28.844s|
|23||Davide Pizzoli||BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy||KTM||29.026s|
|24||Barry Baltus||CarXpert PruestelGP||KTM||33.352s|
|25||Deniz Oncu||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||1m03.589s|
|-||John McPhee||Petronas Sprinta Racing||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Yuki Kunii||Honda Team Asia||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Filip Salac||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Riccardo Rossi||BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy||KTM||Retirement|
|-||Dennis Foggia||Leopard Racing||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Carlos Tatay||Reale Avintia Racing||KTM||Retirement|