Motegi Moto3: Bezzecchi wins thriller as Martin crashes

Marco Bezzecchi propelled himself back into Moto3 title contention by edging Darryn Binder by a tiny margin to win a scintillating Motegi race, as points leader Jorge Martin crashed out.

Motegi Moto3: Bezzecchi wins thriller as Martin crashes

Bezzecchi snatched the lead away from Binder on the drag to the finish line coming out of the final corner, and in doing so cut Martin's championship advantage to one point heading into the final three races.

Lorenzo Dalla Porta also drafted his way past Binder to take second by a single thousandth of a second.

The Motegi race was another typically frenetic pack encounter, although it was PrustelGP KTM rider Bezzecchi that spent the most time in the lead during the 20-lap contest.

He grabbed the lead from poleman Gabriel Rodrigo on the opening lap, and barring brief stints in the lead for Dalla Porta and Martin he remained in control up until the 14th lap.

That was when Martin and Binder both bundled past Bezzecchi on lap 14, and as Binder took the lead Martin and Bezzecchi came very close to making contact at the Turn 11 right-hander.

The loss of momentum knocked Martin down to sixth, and in his desperation to claw back the lost ground the Gresini Honda rider slid out of contention at Turn 11 on the following lap.

From there, Bezzecchi opened a lead of a few tenths after retaking the lead from Binder, but the South African rider regrouped and made what seemed a perfectly-timed overtake at Turn 5 on the last lap.

The younger brother of 2016 Moto3 champion Brad Binder held the lead through Turn 11, but got poor drive exiting the final right-hander and found himself pipped to the line by both Bezzecchi and Dalla Porta's Leopard Honda.

Nevertheless, the Ajo KTM rider still picked up his first-ever grand prix podium finish in third.

Two tenths behind the lead trio Dennis Foggia (Sky VR46 KTM) backed up his Thailand podium with fourth place, beating John McPhee (CIP KTM), Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda) and Enea Bastianini (Leopard).

Rodrigo (RBA KTM), who joins Gresini next season, could manage no better than eighth, ahead of local hero Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Honda) and Bezzecchi's PrustelGP teammate Jakub Kornfeil.

Nicolo Bulega skipped the race after injuring his right hand in what his VR46 team termed a 'domestic incident', but replacement Celestino Vietti picked up two points for 14th on his grand prix debut.

A crash for Fabio Di Giannantonio compounded Gresini's miserable race, with the Italian being taken to the medical centre for a check-up after suffering a particularly nasty high-side on lap 6 at Turn 12.

Also heading to the medical centre were Niccolo Antonelli and Vicente Perez, who tangled on the second lap, while Aron Canet - back from injury after skipping Thailand - was a first-lap crasher.

Race results:

Pos. # Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 12 Italy Marco Bezzecchi  KTM 39'35.653
2 48 Italy Lorenzo Dalla Porta  Honda 0.041
3 40 South Africa Darryn Binder  KTM 0.042
4 10 Italy Dennis Foggia  KTM 0.212
5 17 United Kingdom John McPhee  KTM 0.251
6 14 Italy Tony Arbolino  Honda 0.350
7 33 Italy Enea Bastianini  Honda 0.404
8 19 Argentina Gabriel Rodrigo  KTM 1.561
9 71 Japan Ayumu Sasaki  Honda 3.137
10 84 Czech Republic Jakub Kornfeil  KTM 7.965
11 5 Spain Jaume Masia  KTM 8.364
12 42 Spain Marcos Ramirez  KTM 8.435
13 16 Italy Andrea Migno  KTM 8.561
14 31 Celestino Vietti  KTM 9.041
15 24 Japan Tatsuki Suzuki  Honda 9.237
16 65 Germany Philipp Ottl  KTM 9.898
17 27 Japan Kaito Toba  Honda 10.897
18 72 Spain Alonso Lopez  Honda 15.691
19 7 Malaysia Adam Norrodin  Honda 15.704
20 81 Italy Stefano Nepa  KTM 24.185
21 41 Thailand Nakarin Atiratphuvapat  Honda 24.581
22 22 Japan Kazuki Masaki  KTM 41.928
23 13 Japan Shizuka Okazaki  Honda 1'48.336
24 36 Yuto Fukushima  Honda 1 Lap
Ret 88 Spain Jorge Martin  Honda 6 Laps
Ret 75 Spain Albert Arenas  KTM 10 Laps
Ret 21 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio  Honda 15 Laps
Ret 23 Italy Niccolo Antonelli  Honda 19 Laps
Ret 77 Spain Vicente Perez  KTM 19 Laps
Ret 44 Spain Aron Canet  Honda -
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