Marc Garcia stole victory on the line from Aleix Viu, Ayumu Sasaki and Raúl Fernández in a blanket photo finish in Brno. The 16-year-old Spaniard was third into the last left/right as Sasaki passed Viu for the lead but had the perfect drive from his KTM RC 250 R through the right-hander to the line while Viu repassed Sasaki, and Fernandez so narrowly missed the podium.
"Anyone could have won it," confirmed Garcia with a huge grin. "But I did it and I'm so happy. It was a great fight all the way at the front, the other guys were very fast, there was just no chance to break away in front, I tried early on but it was impossible."
"There was no plan for the last lap, impossible with such a group and I just gave it everything and got myself in the right position at the last corner, so great to get across the line first and so good for the championship," enthused Garcia who still lies fourth but is now just 46 adrift of first with 100 points on offer for the remaining four races.
As the 15-year-old Spaniard repassed Sasaki it looked as though he had stolen the win from the 15-year-old Japanese. "I thought I had it," admitted Viu, "but I looked across and Marc was there!"
"What a fantastic race, I'm happy to have gained points on Ayumu and Raúl and it was a lot of fun. I was feeling good from the start and I thought I would try and push to get away but there was no chance and the other guys were also pushing very hard."
"My feeling was that there was no way to have a plan for the last lap, it was best to be in front and go as fast as possible. When Ayumu passed me into the left I knew I had to get back across for the drive out and I almost did it. Still I am happy for the race and I just hope it is dry tomorrow so I can go for the win."
He remains very much on top of the table and while his points lead over Viu may have shrunk to 19 you have the feeling that it is missing out on the win that hurts Sasaki more. "It was a much harder race than I expected," he admitted. "We were battling in a very big group and there was no way to break away. I passed Aleix into the last corner and tried to stay tight but couldn't. I drifted wide and gave him the chance to get back."
"So I am not happy with the result but happy with the race overall," he concluded, without a trace of his usual smile.
Fernández no – Yurchenko yes
Fourth would be good for many but Fernández made no pretence at satisfaction. "No, not good for the championship," stated the 15-year-old Spaniard. "I enjoyed the race but not the finish and I have to do better tomorrow. We will change the rear sprocket because I think that my gearing was not right and that should be enough to make the difference."
Makar Yurchenko though was thrilled with a close fifth. "Yes, finally," enthused the 18-year-old Russian who was frustrated with 6th and 13th at the Red Bull Ring. "I should be battling at the front and I said to myself, 'If you could do it in Jerez, you can do it here.' It was a great race, so hard, we caught the front group then Toba crashed, Pulkkinen crashed, I almost crashed, but I didn't and it was fantastic."
Patrik Pulkkinen smashed the lap record, led the race but slid off on lap 12 of 14. "I'm not too disappointed, it was a good race, good to learn from it and I will use that tomorrow and take more care."
Another star was Mattia Casadei and the 16-year-old Italian only lost a shot at the podium with a mistake on the last lap that left him sixth.
Race 2 is on Sunday at 15.30 and can be seen live on TV channels around the globe and on www.redbull.tv with the show starting 10 minutes before the race.
Race 1 classification download
Cup points download