The first race of the day was missing its championship leader as Jorge Martin missed the Czech round due to injury for a second consecutive year. Adding insult to injury was teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio finally getting that first win that was so painfully taken away in Le Mans. The Italian youngster kept his cool in a standard/chaotic lightweight class race and led the sizeable pack over the line after making it stick in turn three on the final lap. Aron Canet also played his best cards to come back into the title battle, while poleman Jakub Kornfeil gave a special reason to cheer to the local crowds as he stepped on the podium at home for the first time.
Kornfeil had made a good start to keep the lead into turn one and stretched a gap of eight tenths of a second by the end of lap one. Gabriel Rodrigo picked up the task of chasing down the leader, with John McPhee, Marcos Ramirez, Di Giannantonio, Canet and Philipp Oettl within striking distance but with a gaggle or riders on their tail as well. Marco Bezzecchi and Enea Bastianini lost places at the start to drop back to 15th and 16th halfway through lap one but the pack was still close together. Bezzecchi had finally re-joined the top ten on lap three but the Leopard rider could not quite follow the example and was stuck in 15th position.
Canet was the only one successful in reeling in Kornfeil on lap four and brought the gap down in one lap to take over the lead. Kornfeil got demoted further by Ramirez and Rodrigo and the fight for victory was truly on. While the pack was still substantial and the leaders were planning their strategy up front, Bezzecchi was not really making the most of the opportunity given in the championship fight and had dropped back to 15th once again.
At the halfway point of the race, the lead started to change hands at every crossing of the line, with McPhee, Dennis Foggia, Di Giannantonio and Rodrigo putting their names in the frame. The first to blink was McPhee, the CIP rider falling out of contention with eight laps left. Oettl picked up the lead with seven laps remaining but the 21-rider group looked like it had no intention of breaking apart. Bezzecchi had tentatively found his way back in the top eight to provisionally lead the championship.
The final five laps saw the popular poleman back at the front but it wasn’t to last with sharks like Di Giannantonio on his tail. The duo exchanged top position several times in the next couple of laps but Oettl and Canet wanted in on the fun soon after. While the four men were the main protagonists at this point, Bastianini went under the radar while making his way towards the top five and was soon threatening the podium positions.
Kornfeil started the final lap in the lead but Di Giannantonio looked unconcerned as he got his last lap startegy spot on and took the checkered flag one tenth of a second ahead of Canet. The home hero settled for a well celebrated final podium position, while Bastianini completed a great recovery job in fourth place. Rodrigo settled for fifth while Bezzecchi snatched sixth to edge ahead in the championship battle. Ramirez and Oettl were the final men to keep up with the leading group until the end, while Albert Arenas and Lorenzo Dalla Porta completed the top ten almost a second down the road.
Bezzecchi’s ultimate recovery means that he now leads the championship by three points ahead of Martin. Di Giannantonio becomes a closer threat to his teammate as he trails him by only 14 points, with Canet another four points back.
|1||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||39'09.124|
|10||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||+2.056|
|7||Adam NORRODIN||Honda||1 Lap|
|81||Stefano NEPA||KTM||4 Laps|
|17||John MCPHEE||KTM||9 Laps|
|27||Kaito TOBA||Honda||16 Laps|