Toba battled it out against Italian rider, Lorenzo Dalla Porta, using the slipstream on the straight to nip the win by just 0.053 seconds.
It was a fairytale ending for Toba, who is the first Japanese rider to win in the lightweight division since Tomoyoshi Koyama’s 125cc victory at the Catalunya GP in 2007.
It is a great accomplishment for the 18-year-old, who underperformed last year with a 22nd place season finish with only 37 points to his name.
The underwhelming results raised some eyebrows when Toba’s seat was renewed for 2019, but team Honda Asia wanted to give the youngster one last crack.
It paid off.
Toba first took the lead by Lap 13, closely hunted by Dalla Porta, Niccolo Antonelli, Aron Canet and Celestino Vietti Ramus.
As is usual for Moto3, the pack was led by multiple riders throughout the race, in particular Dalla Porta and Canet, who showed grit from the get go.
Snipers’ favourite Romano Fenati made a costly mistake when he misinterpreted a “Track Limits Warning” as an instruction not a caution.
Fenati followed the penalty that comes with the Track Limits rule and took the penalty loop with just four laps to go.
The mistake saw him lose a second and a half off his lap time and go from fourth position to 13th, thereby finishing the race in 9th place.
On multiple occasions Dalla Porta took the lead after towing forward and gaining slipstream from Canet on the straight.
It became evident early on in the race that the KTM was no match for the Honda on the straight, with the Honda bike capable of using the straight-line speed advantage to overtake with ease.
Dalla Porta, Toba, Marcos Ramirez and Canet all fired into the last lap strong.
Dalla Porta came up the inside of Toba toward the end of the last lap, now leading and thinking he could get good enough drive out of the last corner to sprint to the finish.
Perhaps his best bet would have been to stay close behind Toba and use the stripstream to attempt to take the win instead.
It did not end well for the Italian who was caught by Toba just metres before the finish line for his historical finale to the 2019 season opening.
The podium was shared by Toba in first place, Dalla Porta in second and Canet in third.
- Kaito Toba (JAP) Honda
- Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA) Honda
- Aron Canet (SPA) KTM
- Marcos Ramirez (SPA) Honda
- Celestino Vietti (ITA) KTM
- Albert Arenas (SPA) KTM
- Raul Fernandez (SPA) KTM
- Niccolò Antonelli (ITA) Honda
- Romano Fenati (ITA)Honda
- Jakub Kornfeil (CZE) KTM
- Ai Ogura (JPN) Honda
- Alonso Lopez (SPA) Honda
- John McPhee (GBR) Honda
- Andrea Migno (ITA) KTM
- Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG) Honda
- Tony Arbolino (ITA) Honda
- Vicente Perez (SPA) KTM
- Can Oncu (TUR) KTM
- Kazuki Masaki (JPN) KTM
- Ryusei Yamanaka (JPN) Honda
- Filip Salac (CZE) KTM
- Riccardo Rossi (ITA) Honda
- Makar Yurchenko (KAZ) KTM
- Tom Booth-Amos (GBR) KTM
Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) Honda
Dennis Foggia (ITA) KTM
Darryn Binder (RSA)KTM
Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Honda
Jaume Masia (SPA) KTM