Tony Arbolino claimed his first Moto3 win of 2020 after closing down a dominant Raul Fernandez in the closing laps of the Valencia Grand Prix.
Fernandez found himself in a similar fortuitous position to that of last weekends European GP after gaining a 1.2 second lead after second-placed Kaito Toba crashed out on the second tour, the Japanese being collected by countryman Tatsuki Suzuki in the process.
The KTM Ajo racer looked good to bang out a repeat of his win from seven days ago as he grabbed the opportunity with both hands, extending his lead to over 1.8 seconds over the subsequent laps.
Arbolino meanwhile led the charge behind in second for most of the race, but staged a late comeback with Sergio Garcia as Fernandez’s pace began to drop.
The Italian etched Fernandez’s advantage to a second with around a third of the race remaining, before closing directly onto the rear of the KTM with just a few tours left.
Fernandez held on for a while as Garcia tried to overcome Arbolino, though the Snipers pilot eventually fended off the Spaniard-allowing him to re-focus on dispatching the leader.
He made the move stick just as the field began the penultimate circulation, moving into the lead at Turn 1.
Garcia though was keen to not let Arbolino get away so easily and immediately tried to follow through on Fernandez, but the pair lost time across the lap and left Arbolino with a seemingly unassailable lead.
This is ultimately how it played out, Arbolino taking the chequered flag 1.142 ahead of Garcia, while Fernandez would have to make do with third after leading by far the most laps of anyone.
Series leader Albert Arenas extended his points advantage with a solid fourth after losing touch with the leading trio over the closing laps, the Aspar man instead having to turn his attentions to attacking pole-man Darryn Binder and Tech 3’s Deniz Oncu behind.
He fended off Binder after the South African as he tried to dive past at Turn 2 on the final lap, the CIP Green Power rider taking fifth ahead of Oncu.
Andrea Migno meanwhile won the battle for seventh ahead of title contender Ai Ogura and Jaume Masia after the group dropped nearly seven seconds back from their competitors ahead, though the next cluster of riders behind-led in the end by Jeremy Alcoba-were a further few seconds back.
John McPhee officially dropped out of title contention having only crossed the line 11th, while Masia’s ninth place finish also eradicated him from the championship conversation with just one race remaining.
Arenas continued to lead with an increased eight point margin over Ogura heading the season-ending Portuguese GP at Portimao, while Arbolino’s win sees him as the only other man in the title fight just 11 points down on Arenas.
Celestino Vietti saw himself fall from the title fight early on after crashing at Turn 11, eventually ending the race outside the points positions despite quickly remounting his seemingly undamaged VR46 KTM machine.