Luis Salom closed to within four points of Moto3 championship leader Maverick Vinales after holding off five riders to win a closely fought Italian Grand Prix. The long pit straight provided the usual slipstreaming mayhem while also preventing anyone from making a break with the top six covered by just 1.4s at the chequered flag.
Jonas Folger was in the thick of the action, leading away from pole position, but Vinales soon overhauled him before the German fell back into the pack. The two Estrella Galicia KTMs of Alex Rins and Alex Marquez were also posing a threat with their superior straight line speed while Miguel Oliveira was the surprise combatant on the improved Mahindra.
The Portuguese rider even fought his way to the front of the pack with six laps to go as he stormed through from fourth at the end of the pit straight. It was here though that Salom hit the front for the first time after playing it cool up to then, breezing past the Mahindra at the end of the lap. Vinales regained the lead with an identical move a lap later but Salom struck back again on lap seventeen and this time, with Vinales preoccupied with Oliveira and Rins’ battle taking place around him, the Red Bull Ajo rider had just enough of a gap to edge away.
Rins was able to regroup but he couldn’t get close enough to pick up a slipstream on the run to the finish line, coming through 0.099s behind, with Vinales completing the podium ahead of Oliveira, Marquez and Folger. Niccolo Antonelli chose his home race for his first points finish of the year, in fact his first finish of any kind, with Niklas Ajo riding an inspired race to take eighth from 23rd on the grid, narrowly beating Eric Granado and Jack Miller.
A collision at the final corner between Jakub Kornfeil and Matteo Ferrari cost both a points finish but John McPhee couldn’t capitalise, losing a photo finish with Jasper Iwema for fifteenth. The pair were separated by just one thousandth of a second in the end with Danny Webb a tenth behind them in seventeenth.