Tatsuki Suzuki claimed his second-ever Moto3 victory after beating John McPhee in the Andalusian Grand Prix at Jerez on Sunday, as championship leader Albert Arenas crashed out.
Suzuki led the field from pole position for the second weekend in a row, but - after dropping the order in the first Jerez race, which led SIC58 Squadra Corse team boss Paolo Simoncelli to label his performance "embarrassing" - appeared to have the measure of his rivals this time.
Although the SIC58 Squadra Corse rider was unable to shake off the competition and was often passed by rivals, he never ceded the lead for more than half a lap.
With six laps to go, Suzuki managed to pull away from the field by half a second, but CIP's Darryn Binder - who had started down in 25th place - was able to reduce that advantage in no time.
However, Suzuki received a lifeline when McPhee (Petronas Sprinta) started chasing down Binder for second, the tight scrap between the two giving the Japanese rider much needed breathing space out in front.
Suzuki eventually crossed the line 0.064 seconds ahead of McPhee to take his first win since Misano last year, as VR46 rider Celestino Vietti took third to deny Honda a podium lockout.
Binder initially dropped to fifth after a mistake on the final lap, but was promoted to fourth after a penalty for Gresini's Jeremy Alcoba, who had three seconds added to his race time for failing to take a long lap for repeated track limits abuse.
Alcoba's team-mate Gabriel Rodrigo, who spent much of the race battling with Suzuki for the race, was eventually classified fifth, ahead of Raul Fernandez (KTM Ajo) and Alcoba.
The top 10 was completed by Estrella Garcia team-mates Sergio Garcia and Ryusei Yamanaka. and Snipers rider Tony Arbolino.
Aspar rider Arenas, who won the opening two rounds of the season at Losail and Jerez, suffered a nasty crash at Turn 11 with eight laps to go.
He had to be taken to the medical centre on a stretcher, but was later seen walking out of the ambulance without external support.
The team has since confirmed he sprained his ankle and suffered some bruising.
His championship lead has been cut to just six points, with Suzuki moving into second and McPhee just 10 points back now in third heading to the fourth round in the Czech Republic next month.
Moto3 Andalusia Results - 22 laps
|1||Tatsuki Suzuki||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||39m18.861s|
|2||John McPhee||Petronas Sprinta Racing||Honda||0.064s|
|3||Celestino Vietti||SKY Racing Team VR46||KTM||0.134s|
|4||Darryn Binder||CIP - Green Power||KTM||0.628s|
|5||Gabriel Rodrigo||Kommerling Gresini Moto3||Honda||0.817s|
|6||Raul Fernandez||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||2.742s|
|7||Jeremy Alcoba||Kommerling Gresini Moto3||Honda||3.315s|
|8||Sergio Garcia||Estrella Galicia 0,0||Honda||4.853s|
|9||Ryusei Yamanaka||Estrella Galicia 0,0||Honda||4.887s|
|10||Tony Arbolino||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||4.988s|
|11||Kaito Toba||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||5.301s|
|12||Romano Fenati||Sterilgarda Max Racing Team||Husqvarna||5.603s|
|13||Carlos Tatay||Reale Avintia Moto3||KTM||6.783s|
|14||Stefano Nepa||Solunion Aspar Team Moto3||KTM||7.729s|
|15||Niccolo Antonelli||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||7.776s|
|16||Yuki Kunii||Honda Team Asia||Honda||17.641s|
|17||Barry Baltus||CarXpert PruestelGP||KTM||17.416s|
|18||Maximilian Kofler||CIP - Green Power||KTM||20.821s|
|19||Jason Dupasquier||CarXpert PruestelGP||KTM||20.833s|
|20||Khairul Idham Pawi||Petronas Sprinta Racing||Honda||22.445s|
|21||Riccardo Rossi||BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy||KTM||22.500s|
|22||Andrea Migno||SKY Racing Team VR46||KTM||34.688s|
|-||Davide Pizzoli||BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy||KTM||Retirement|
|-||Dennis Foggia||Leopard Racing||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Deniz Oncu||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||Retirement|
|-||Ayumu Sasaki||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||Retirement|
|-||Jaume Masia||Leopard Racing||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Albert Arenas||Solunion Aspar Team Moto3||KTM||Retirement|
|-||Ai Ogura||Honda Team Asia||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Filip Salac||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Alonso Lopez||Sterilgarda Max Racing Team||Husqvarna||Withdrawn|