The sun was out, the clouds were gone and the intermediary class quite aptly closed the show at Motorland Aragon, promising finally some fireworks between the main title contenders sharing front row. The promise led to disappointment but none of that was for Brad Binder, the South African defeating the local boys to dominate the final race of the day and bring a big smile at the end of a difficult weekend for KTM. Jorge Navarro pushed all the way to the checkered flag to put up a challenge for the win but Binder was too strong so he had so be satisfied with second place. Alex Marquez had a few battles on his hands too but handled them well to complete the podium and invigorate his advantage in the championship.
Marquez had made a decent start from pole position but Binder and Luca Marini got a much better launch off the line, the two getting past both Marquez and Augusto Fernandez. Things looked promising early on, with the main title contenders thrown amidst the pack but it didn’t last long, Fernandez sliding out at turn nine before the end of lap one and rejoining the race last. That was of little concern to Binder, who was over seven tenths of a second ahead of Marini at the end of the first lap, with Marquez and Tom Luthi close behind and Navarro pushing to tag along to the leaders. A second behind them, Xavi Vierge was getting some trouble from Sam Lowes.
By lap four, the five men at the front merged into one strong lead pack, Binder still ahead of Marini, Marquez, Luthi and Navarro. Navarro seemed to have the hottest pace in the early stages and he attacked Luthi soon after. Marini was next in line, Marquez getting past the Italian on lap six to reel in Binder and leave Marini to contend with Navarro. This was merely the beginning of the action, Marquez, Marini and Navarro keeping each other busy for the next few laps and allowing Binder a bit of a breather ahead. Luthi was still hanging onto the lead group but not close enough for any moves.
Binder’s advantage stretched to one second at the start of lap nine, while Marini retook the task of hunting him down and the shenanigans in the podium battle were slowly bringing Lowes into contention. The British rider first caught up with Luthi and the duo was soon tagging along to the chasing pack, where Marquez and Marini continued to trade places. Marquez was probably not too bothered as Binder was not a threat to his championship lead but their exchanges let Binder put two seconds between them.
The gap didn’t last long though, Marquez taking over the pursuit and setting a fast pace while getting hounded by Navarro, once the Spaniard found the inside of Marini at turn 12 with nine laps left. The first three men were still pushing for red sectors but Marini, Lowes and Luthi’s challenges seemed to have run their course ahead of the final seven laps.
Marquez brought the gap to Binder under 1.5 seconds with six laps left and Navarro allowed his compatriot to drag him ever closer to the leader. Two laps later and the Spaniards were within a second of a victory battle but Marquez seemed more interested in defending second from Navarro than pushing for the win. However, Navarro made a move stick at the second try into turn one and was left with three laps to catch up with Binder. Marquez knew when to wave the white flag and allowed Navarro to set off in hot pursuit but it was quite an ask to find over a second in little over two laps. The attempt was admirable, Navarro entering the final lap half a second behind Binder but the South African put together an impeccable lap and had it covered to the finish line. Marquez brought home a good chuck of points in third, with Marini and Lowes completing the top five. Luthi, Iker Lecuona, Lorenzo Baldassarri, Jorge Martin and Vierge claimed the remaining top ten positions.
Fernandez crossed the finish line 22nd and coupled with Marquez and Navarro’s podiums, the gap in the championship once again grows to 38 points in Marquez’s favour – but this time ahead of Navarro, Fernandez another four points back.
|2||9||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||+0.787|
|11||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||+15.495|
|14||62||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||+21.838|
|19||77||Dominique AEGERTER||MV Agusta||+28.943|
|45||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA||Kalex||15 Laps|