VNE Snipers claim 1-2 in Austria with Arbolino taking P2, McPhee snatches a podium on the line

Romano Fenati’s (VNE Snipers) 2019 reboot is complete after producing a sensational ride to claim his first win since the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, the Italian finished just over a second clear of teammate Tony Arbolino as John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) snatches the final podium spot on the line.

Despite plenty of rainfall in the morning, the track had mostly dried for the Moto3™ race as every rider opted for the slick tyres. However, the start was going to be sketchy with plenty of wet patches on the grid and off the line it was Fenati who got the better of polesitter McPhee, with teammate Arbolino slotting into second at Turn 1 to make it a VNE Snipers 1-2 on the run down to Turn 3. At said corner, Arbolino immediately pounced to take the P1 as the leading trio of Arbolino, Fenati and McPhee started to create a gap to the chasing pack.

On Lap 2 the front three were well clear of fourth place Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing), 2.7 seconds was the gap as Fenati, Arbolino and McPhee raced ahead. The two Italians were exchanging the lead of the race with the Scotsman just sitting in behind, while on Lap 7, Arbolino told Fenati to stick behind him – a VNE Snipers breakaway? Not quite, Fenati was soon back through and with the gap to the chasers up to over four seconds, surely it was the three leaders who were going to fight for Austrian GP victory?

Round 11: Moto3™ myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich 11/08/2019

Join Matt Birt, Steve Day and Simon Crafar at the Red Bull Ring for the eleventh Moto3™ race of 2019

Well, Fenati had other ideas. On Lap 9 he retook the lead once more and on Lap 10, the number 55 fired in a 1:38.4 to stretch his lead to over half a second. The Moto3™ veteran was in the groove in the tricky conditions and it soon became clear Arbolino and McPhee had to do something to stop Fenati from edging away. However, eyes soon turned to what was going on behind, as two KTMs were ramping up their pace: Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai).

Fenati was setting fastest lap after fastest lap and his lead was creeping up to the two-second mark. Vietti and Masia were also on fastest lap pace as the duo started to eat into the 3.3-second advantage McPhee and Arbolino had. The latter two were being closed down half a second a lap and with four laps to go, it was game on for the podium battle. Vietti set the fastest lap of the race with three laps remaining and Masia stuck with him – it was now a four-rider fight for P2 and P3, Fenati was still over 1.5 seconds up the road. Masia then made a move stick at Turn 3 on Vietti as the Spaniard eyed a first podium since Mugello. But, after attempting a move up the inside of McPhee at Turn 9 with one and a bit laps to go, Masia crashed. McPhee closed the door as Masia ran wide on the wet asphalt and, subsequently, the number 5 highsided out of the fight.

Last lap time and it was Arbolino from Vietti and McPhee – would it be an all-Italian rostrum? Vietti thought about making a move on Arbolino but heading into the last corner, the trio were line astern. Fenati took the chequered flag to claim Italy’s 250th lightweight class win, but late drama would unfold behind. Arbolino held third coming out the final corner with Vietti and McPhee in pursuit. However, McPhee got the best run out of Turn 10 and snatched P3 from Vietti by 0.015, the British rider missing out on P2 by just 0.008. Heartbreak for Vietti, jubilation for Arbolino and McPhee – a magnificent ride by all three.

Five and half seconds back, Marcos Ramirez got the better of Leopard Racing teammate Dalla Porta as the two finished fifth and sixth respectively. It’s a result that sees Dalla Porta retake the Championship lead, with title rival Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) only managing to finish P10. Seventh went the way of Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race), the Kazakhstan rider picking up his best Moto3™ result as he edged out Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and the aforementioned Canet to the line.

Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was an early crasher at Turn 1, with Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) crashing twice – riders ok. Masia went to the medical centre for a checkup after his crash. 

In terms of the Championship race, Dalla Porta now takes a one-point lead over Canet to the British GP. Arbolino’s second means he’s not completely out of the picture in third, the Italian sits 42 off Dalla Porta but Sunday in Austria belonged to one man: Fenati. After an incredibly tough year, ‘FennyFive’ is back on the top step to equal Enea Bastianini’s Moto3™ podium record on 24. Can he produce more of the same at Silverstone in two weeks’ time?

Top 10:

1. Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers)

2. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) 1.097

3. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) 1.105

4. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) 1.120

5. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) 6.789

6. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) 7.559

7. Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Racing) 17.880

8. Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) 17.902

9. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) 17.936

10. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) 18.030

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