Qatar Moto3: Toba wins first race of 2019 by 0.053s
Honda Team Asia's Kaito Toba took his maiden Moto3 victory in a closely-contested Qatar season opener, while class returnee Romano Fenati was delayed by mistakenly serving a penalty.
In typical Moto3 fashion, several riders were part of race-long lead pack, with most of the overtakes occurring at the end of the main straight.
Toba slipstreamed past Lorenzo Dalla Porta to begin the last lap of the race in the lead, but he came under immense pressure from the Italian as well as poleman Aron Canet.
Dalla Porta was able to make a move at Turn 10, but it all came down to the exit of the final turn, where Toba had a good enough drive to slipstream back ahead and cross the line first by 0.053s.
Toba became the first Japanese rider to win in the lightweight class since Tomoyoshi Koyama's success in Barcelona in 2007, and the first Asian Talent Cup graduate to triumph in Moto3.
The podium was completed by Dalla Porta and Canet, both riders who spent the whole race in the lead group.
Another rider who was well-placed to take the victory was Fenati, but the Italian dropped out of the fight in dramatic fashion as he mistakenly served a Long Lap penalty after receiving a track limits warning.
Fenati told BT Sport: "I saw on the dashboard ‘track limits’ with the light, so maybe I don’t understand… not maybe, for sure I don’t understand. Now it’s [like] this."
Dalla Porta's Leopard Racing teammate Marcos Ramirez was fourth, followed by Sky Racing VR46 rider Celestino Vietti, the 17-year-old taking his second top-five Moto3 result in five races.
Angel Nieto duo Albert Arenas and Raul Fernandez were seventh and eighth with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58), an early race leader, and Fenati settling for eighth and ninth.
PrustelGP's Jakub Kornfeil completed the top 10.
The race featured two big crashes in the early stages, with Moto3 rookie Tom Booth-Amos collecting Jaume Masia, Makar Yurchenko and Ayumu Sasaki on the opening lap.
A few laps later there was another collision involving Tatsuki Suzuki, Dennis Foggia and Kazuki Masaki.
|2||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Honda||0.053|
|5||Celestino Vietti Ramus||KTM||0.584|
|24||Tom Booth-Amos||KTM||3 Laps|
|Ret||Tatsuki Suzuki||Honda||14 Laps|
|Ret||Dennis Foggia||KTM||14 Laps|
|Ret||Darryn Binder||KTM||17 Laps|