Niccolo Antonelli leads debut 1-2 for Simoncelli team
Niccolo Antonelli won his first Moto3 race in three years, after beating SIC58 team-mate Tatsuki Suzuki to victory in a frantic Spanish Grand Prix.
Suzuki led in the early stages, but it was his stablemate who emerged from a frenetic scrap for the podium places in the latter stages to head the field and lead an emotional debut one-two for the Paolo Simoncelli-run squad 15 years after his late son Marco took his first grand prix victory.
Just as he did in Austin, Suzuki made a slight breakaway in the opening laps, putting six tenths between himself and Antonelli, though poleman Lorenzo Dalla Porta carved into the lead on lap four.
The Leopard rider engaged in battle with VR46 man Celestino Vietti, Suzuki and Antonelli over the next few laps, with Suzuki taking point on lap nine.
The Japanese rider soon came under attack from Romano Fenati, though the Team O runner's advances on lap nine were continually countered by Suzuki.
Dalla Porta returned to the front of the pack on lap 10 with a move at the newly-renamed Pedrosa corner on Suzuki, but the pair would continue to trade the lead through to the final six tours.
The sister Leopard Honda of Marcos Ramirez led with four laps to go, though Antonelli would soon usurp the Spaniard with four laps to go.
Ramirez's challenge ended in spectacular fashion when he clipped the rear of Antonelli on the run into the Pons corner and crashed, his Leopard machine only narrowly avoiding Vietti, while Fenati was forced off track as a result.
Antonelli passed Vietti into the final corner to lead onto the last lap, and built just enough of a buffer to move himself out of reach of threat from Suzuki behind at the last turn to secure his first win since Qatar 2016.
Suzuki resisted Vietti on the run to the line for a maiden podium, while Aron Canet held onto the championship lead by just a point from Antonelli after getting his Max Racing KTM to the chequered flag in fourth.
Albert Arenas completed the top five on the sole-remaining Nieto bike, after team-mate Raul Fernandez highsided into EG 0,0 Honda's Sergio Garcia at Pedrosa corner in the latter laps.
Kaito Toba recovered from 25th on the grid to sixth on his Team Asia Honda, with Prustel GP's Jakub Kornfeil shadowing him.
Dalla Porta faded to eighth in the end after a late error at Pedrosa corner, with Ai Ogura [Team Asia] and Andrea Migno [Bester Capital Dubai] completing the top 10.
Migno's team-mate Jaume Masia surrendered the points lead he established after Austin when he crashed early on at the last corner. Fenati parked up after getting caught up in the Ramirez incident, while Gresini's Gabriel Rodrigo was an early faller.
A post-race time penalty dropped VR46 rider Dennis Foggia out of 11th, promoting CIP team-mates Darryn Binder and John McPhee up a place, as well as Kazuki Masaki [Skull Rider], Alonso Lopez [EG 0,0] and SIC Racing's Ayumu Sasaki.