After the pure chaos of Moto3, the intermediate class presented us with an equally exceptional ride to victory but one that could not have been any more different. Starting from the front row, Fabio Di Giannantonio took the lead into turn 1 and never saw another bike again, until stopping for celebrations on the victory lap. The Italian had unrivalled pace throughout the 23 laps and used it to secure his first victory in the intermediate class and his team’s first in a considerable time. Marco Bezzecchi got to celebrate his first podium of the season, while Sam Lowes joined them on the podium to recover solid ground in the championship battle.
Di Giannantonio had made a fast start to take the lead from poleman Remy Gardner straight away, with Bezzecchi, Augusto Fernandez, Raul Fernandez, Lowes and Xavi Vierge close behind. However, Bezzecchi soon dropped to the back of that group after a mistake at turn 6.
Di Giannantonio quickly managed to build a half second gap in the first couple of laps, while Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates Gardner and Raul Fernandez were pushing to catch up and Lowes was looking for a way past teammate Augusto Fernandez, to join the top 4. His mission was made easier when the Spaniard slid out at turn six of lap 3 and while Lowes was rapidly bridging the four tenths gap to the orange bikes ahead, Bezzecchi was left half a second behind his rival.
By lap five, Di Giannantonio extended his lead to over one second, while a chasing group had formed with Gardner, Fernandez, Lowes and Bezzecchi, the next group being led by Xierge over a second down the road. The gap at the front extended to two seconds by lap 8, with the pursuers seemingly in no rush to recover that in the early stages. Fernandez soon picked up the chase from teammate Gardner to have a go at reeling in the leader but Di Giannantonio kept a rapid pace at the front. Bezzecchi and Lowes kept each other busy behind Gardner but the British rider started to struggle at the halfway point of the race, dropping half a second on the group. Gardner soon followed his example, losing some ground on Bezzecchi ahead, who in turn had half a second to get to Fernandez.
The rookie was fast but all he could do was maintain the 2.5 seconds gap to the leader, Di Giannantonio not allowing him to get any closer heading into the final 10 laps. The Italian’s consistency was impeccable at the front, while Fernandez soon had Bezzecchi to contend with, in the battle for the remaining podium positions. Gardner had dropped almost a second behind, with Lowes keen to challenge him in the final stages of the race, but things were so evenly matched that the top five men struggled to show each other a wheel for the next few laps.
The leader’s gap started to very slowly reduce in the final 8 laps, but a mistake from Fernandez at the final turn with 6 laps left allowed Bezzecchi past and left them 2.8 seconds behind Di Giannantonio. The rookie struggled to keep up with the Italians, while teammate Gardner found some late pace to catch up with him, dragging Lowes into the third place battle too. Lowes was the first to make a move after Gardner went in too hot into turn 1 with 4 laps remaining and Fernandez managed to hold onto the podium until the final two laps, when a wobble at turn 2 allowed both Lowes and Gardner through.
Di Giannantonio’s last lap celebrations reduced his gap to under two seconds for the first time but Bezzecchi was no match for his compatriot and had to settle for second. With Fernandez quickly dropping back on his well-used tyres, Lowes and Gardner were left to decide third but the Australian never got to try for an overtake and Lowes secured the podium position. Gardner finished fourth on his 100th grand prix start and Fernandez completed the top five, with Vierge, Ai Ogura, Joe Roberts, Aron Canet and Marcel Schrotter in the top ten.
Helped by his teammate’s late tyre trouble, Gardner keeps the championship lead by a minuscule three points ahead of Lowes, with Fernandez 6 points behind and Bezzecchi recovering some ground to be only 13 points down on the leader.
|1||21||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Kalex||39'07.396|
|14||7||Lorenzo Baldassarri||MV Agusta||+25.896|
|16||19||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Kalex||+31.359|
|23||10||Tommaso Marcon||MV Agusta||+1'20.544|
|6||Cameron Beaubier||Kalex||1 Lap|
|24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||10 Laps|
|75||Albert Arenas||Boscoscuro||12 Laps|
|40||Hector Garzo||Kalex||18 Laps|
|35||Somkiat Chantra||Kalex||20 Laps|
|37||Augusto Fernandez||Kalex||21 Laps|
|11||Nicolò Bulega||Kalex||21 Laps|