Jaume Masia secures maiden win after frantic Argentina battle
Jaume Masia converted his debut Moto3 pole position into a maiden victory in a frantic Argentine Grand Prix, while Darryn Binder and Tony Arbolino completed the podium.
Masia recovered from a a heavy crash in the warm-up and a poor start to snatch the lead away from home hero Gabriel Rodrigo on the final lap, and held on for the win.
Poleman Masia botched his launch at the start, giving Max Racing rider Aron Canet an easy run into Turn 1 to take the lead, while the Bester Capital Dubai runner slotted into second.
Niccolo Antonelli quickly moved ahead of Masia into Turn 5 and began the charge on Canet aboard his SIC58 Honda, before making his first pass for the lead at the same corner on lap two.
The pair traded the lead over the next few laps, with Masia taking over at the front of the field on lap six, before home favourite Rodrigo made it to the lead on his Gresini machine.
The battle at the front proved frenetic, with the top 15 covered by just 1.6s at the halfway stage and a number of names taking a turn at leading the race.
CIP's Binder led the pack as the race entered its final lap, the South African was usurped by Leopard's Lorenzo Dalla Porta into Turn 1.
However, Dalla Porta was swallowed up on the run into Turn 5, with his hopes of victory ended by a nudge from Binder behind, while Rodrigo once again hit the front.
Masia chased Rodrigo through Turn 6 and scythed up the inside into the next corner, making the pass stick and leading the field into the final sector.
He repelled the advances of the chasing pack into the final corner to storm across the line to victory, while second-placed Binder headed debut podium finisher Arbolino [Team O], who fought through the field following a poor start.
Rordigo's hopes of a home podium were dashed by an error at exiting the penultimate corner, and he was forced to settle for sixth behind Ayumu Sasaki [Sepang Racing Team] and Antonelli.
Dennis Foggia led the way briefly on his VR46 machine, but faded to eighth in the end, with Marcos Ramirez ninth on his Leopard Honda while team-mate Dalla Porta was seventh.
Qatar race winner Kaito Toba was caught up in a collision between John McPhee [CIP] and Alonso Lopez [EG 0,0] at Turn 13 on lap 12, dropping to 20th as a result.
Toba recovered to complete the top 10 and retain the championship lead by two points, while Andrea Migno on the sister BCD bike, Canet, Tatsuki Suzuki [SIC58], Celestino Vietti [VR46] and Nieto's Raul Fernandez filled out the rest of the top 15.
McPhee, who led for a short while before his crash, rejoined and brought his Honda home in 21st. Vicente Perez of Avintia and Lopez failed to make the finish.
Esteban Garcia was unable to take the start, after the Estrella Galicia rider suffered a concussion in the warm-up crash Masia was involved in.