Lewis Duncan  |    |   0  |  28 October 2018

Albert Arenas wins Aussie thriller, Marco Bezzecchi crashes

Albert Arenas won a thrilling Australian Moto3 Grand Prix, while fifth-placed Jorge Martin opened up his championship lead after a crash for main rival Marco Bezzecchi.

A massive 20-rider group battled hard in a dramatic 23-lap lightweight class race at Phillip Island, with Nieto's Arenas snatching the win on the run to the line after taking the lead at the start of the last lap.

Gabriel Rodrigo grabbed the holeshot from the second row at the start, with poleman Martin slotting into third while title rival Bezzecchi made little impression on his 15th-place starting position in 13th.

Gresini's Martin moved into the lead at the Honda hairpin, and reclaimed the position two laps later before Ajo KTM's Darryn Binder flew past using the slipstream into Doohan on the fourth tour. 

Bezzecchi soon began to make progress from his lowly grid slot, and was staring at the rear of Martin of in ninth on lap five, before moving ahead into the first turn for sixth.

The Prustel GP rider found himself lead at the start of lap eight, while Martin slipped to 10th, though the frantic 20-rider lead battle meant this was short-lived. 

Bezzecchi's title hopes took a heavy knock 11 laps in, when Rodrigo collided with him at the MG corner, both out on the spot while Martin wound up in second briefly. 

The drama continued moments later when new leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta fell from his Leopard Honda at Southern Loop, while the Bester Capital Dubai duo were involved in a nasty tangle when Marcos Ramirez highsided in front of teammate Jaume Masia at the fast Stoner corner on lap 14. 

The action failed to relent as the race reached its concluding lap, with Arenas moving into the lead at the first corner, while Martin survived a touch with Sky VR46 stand-in Celestino Vietti at MG towards the end of the tour.

Arenas rounded the final turn in the lead and held the charging pack behind at bay by 0.052 seconds to claim his second win of the season, with the sister Gresini of Fabio Di Giannantonio shadowing him at the finish after starting 17th to keep his title hopes alive.

Martin's mistake at MG meant he was fifth at the flag, which sees him open up a 12-point lead over the luckless Bezzecchi, while Di Giannantonio sits a further eight adrift.

Nicolo Bulega's injury replacement Vietti held onto third to claim his maiden grand prix podium in just his second race appearance, while Tatsuki Suzuki guided his SIC58 Honda from 24th to fourth.

Aron Canet followed Martin home in sixth on his EG 0,0 Honda, with Adam Norrodin [SIC], the sole remaining Leopard bike of Enea Bastianini, the sister Prustel bike of Jakub Kornfeil and the second SIC Honda of brief leader Ayumu Sasaki completed the top 10.

Alonso Lopez [EG 0,0] headed early race leader Binder at the finish, with the last points going Migno [Nieto], CIP's John McPhee and Philipp Oettl [Schedl GP], with just over a second covering the top 15.

Dennis Foggia was in contention for a podium for much of the race, but crashed out along with Tony Arbolino at the Honda hairpin on the penultimate lap.

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