An elated Ayumu Sasaki worked incredibly hard to keep in touch with long term race leader Izan Guevara, moved to the lead at the right time and kept his head as his rivals battled and crashed out behind to win the Moto3 Dutch Grand Prix at the Assen TT track.
Round eleven had an explosive end to an already exciting race, which was a scrap from start to finish.
The Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max rider had started as polesitter and converted his second appearance in the top slot on the grid this season after he also started there in Qatar when Guevara was penalised, into a first race win in style.
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The Japanese rider couldn’t just sit in behind the Spaniard as fighting for position was a constant and when he was able to hit the front after rehearsing his move on Guevara, he fell back into the clutches of the lead group, allowing the #71 a small gap up front - a luxury in the race.
Sasaki won by an eventual 0.314s as the drama unfolded behind his success.
The in-form Guevara was dropping like a stone before a wild move from afar from fourth by David Munoz on the final lap took Jaume Masia, who was sizing up a lunge for the lead and John McPhee, who had worked hard to join the breakaway five up front, out of the race.
Having lead from the third lap after taking over from early frontrunner Tatsuki Suzuki, being out front proved to have been a disadvantage for the GASGAS Aspar team rider as all of the rehearsal moves his rivals had run behind him on each other all hit him at once.
Running solo for much of the weekend again and two breakaway wins meant the #28 needed to show a different skillset. He did with aplomb, keeping out of trouble at the crash and claiming a superb second.
Garcia stages comeback from 18th on the grid
Both Aspar riders had a great day with championship leader Sergio Garcia starting from 18th on the grid after a qualifying session in which he never really featured near the front, citing traffic and crashes as his downfall.
He turned that around to be ninth after one lap, then saw his progress halted before following McPhee back to the early lead group of Sasaki, Guevara, Suzuki, Foggia and Munoz.
Garcia came from miles back in the run to the line to snatch third and almost catch his team-mate for second, after an epic lunge forward from the final chicane.
Top Honda finisher Suzuki was caught by surprise by the move, with the Leopard man finishing off the podium in fourth.
There was a gap back to Xavier Artigas who pulled clear of the second group on track for fifth with CFMoto PruestelGP.
Daniel Holgado and Carlos Tatay both has penalties to serve in the race. Tatay’s double lap was handed out for causing the crash at the beginning of the Sachsenring race last week, while Holgado’s was for his FP3 fall where he headed straight towards Elia Bartolini and the marshals rescuing him from the gravel.
Topping warm-up Holgado showed he was race-ready and applied that to make up the places he lost in the loop to come back for sixth for Red Bull KTM Ajo as both top KTM and top rookie.
Stefano Nepa was right behind in seventh for Angeluss MTA Team after qualifying down in 14th.
There was a gap back to Ryusei Yamanaka, who had spent much of his race outside the points before climbing to eighth at the front of the next group on track for MT Helmets-MSI.
He had Deniz Oncu (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power) battling behind on their way to ninth and tenth respecrively.
Riccardo Rossi wasn’t far off the duo in eleventh for SIC58 Squadra Corse, with Ivan Ortola recovering from his penalty for cutting the chicane for tewlfth on the second Angeluss MTA entry.
The final points on offer went to Lorenzo Fellon (SIC58 Squadra Corse) in 13th, Carlos Tatay (CFMOTO Racing PruestalGP) after his penalty in 14th and Andrea Migno, who was also penalised in the race for cutting the chicane in 15th for Rivacold Snipers.
As with qualifying, where he was 19th, just missing out on Q2, Diogo Moreira just missed out on the points in 16th for MT Helmets -MSI.
Joshua Whatley was close to his best ever finish in 20th. He was the only VisionTrack bike to finish after Scott Ogden crashed out at turn seven.
Before Ogden, Elia Bartolini had only just left the race at the same corner. Dennis Foggia hit the kerb as he tried to battle Munoz and was flicked off and out of the lead group with five laps left to run. Foggia had staged a rtuen to the front after running over the green at the chicane previously.
The final lap not only saw the big crash, instigated by Munoz with Masia collected and McPhee out, but was also when Adrian Fernandez and Joel Kelso also ended thier day in the gravel.
Where does that leave the championship?
Izan Guevara looked set to take over at the front in the title standings after leading for much of the race but Sergio Garcia’s last lap run which saw him third means he holds on in the championship standings - now leading the way by just three points.
Guevara remains second with 179 - in turn clear of Dennis Foggia who saw his hopes take a gigantic dent after another DNF. He remains third on a distant 115 points.