Umbrellas were particularly useful on the grid ahead of the start of the intermediate class race but thankfully due to excessively sunny conditions rather than any threats from the forecast. The conditions saw a bit of a change of cast at the front of the action, with Raul Fernandez turning things around to take his fourth victory of the season. Fellow rookie Ai Ogura put pressure on the Spaniard for 25 laps before claiming a maiden podium in the class, while Augusto Fernandez took his third consecutive podium.
Poleman Lowes was close to podium too, having made a great start to lead the way early on, ahead of fellow front row starters Raul Fernandez and Ogura and most of the second-row starters. Augusto Fernandez and Aron Canet held onto the leaders early on but Remy Gardner got dropped to 11th position and left with quite a bit of work to do. Having qualified 16th, rival Bezzecchi made some progress early on and was up to 11th by the end of lap 1, soon catching up with Gardner on track.
Back at the front, Raul Fernandez did not let Lowes stay in the limelight for too long, picking up the lead on lap 3 and a bit of a gap stretched behind the leading group also including Ogura and Augusto Fernandez, with Marcel Schrotter leading the next group seven tenths behind. The German together with Canet, Somkiat Chantra and Celestino Vietti were still in contention, but Gardner’s comeback was going a bit slow, the championship leader stuck in 10th place, four seconds off the lead by lap 5 and having to find a way past rival Bezzecchi to get back in contention.
Meanwhile, Raul Fernandez continued to lead the way and had a half second advantage on the rest of the group, while Ogura and Augusto Fernandez also successfully overtook Lowes to join the provisional podium positions by lap 6. While Ogura had no trouble keeping up with the leader, the Marc VDS boys had dropped a bit off their tail, but the threat from behind was still one second back and had lost a main character, Schrotter crashing out of fifth place at turn 1 on lap 9. That left Vietti, Chantra and Canet as the chasing group about two seconds behind the four leaders, with Gardner another second and a half back and dropping Bezzecchi.
The order was maintained at the top for the next few laps although Lowes seemed to lose touch a bit with the three leaders, while Gardner had caught up with Canet to battle for seventh place with 11 laps to go. Although the KTM man was waving around trying to get Canet to tag along in reeling in the next group up the road, Canet gave him enough trouble to bring that gap to almost four seconds with 9 laps remaining.
Although Raul Fernandez looked strong at the front, he could not distance Ogura, the duo leaving Augusto Fernandez one second back and with the same gap keeping Lowes out of podium positions for the final five laps. Vietti and Chantra provided some entertainment in the battle for fifth late on, while Gardner could not make much impact on the gap of almost four seconds to the twosome but had dropped Canet. After initial progress, Bezzecchi could not do any better and got stuck in 10th, behind an invigorated Tom Luthi.
Under the pressure applied by Ogura, Raul Fernandez started to string together red sector times at the front and suddenly increased his gap to 8 tenths of a second going into the final lap. Ogura admitted defeat and the Spaniard claimed the big trophy, although Ogura was still happy enough to secure a maiden podium. Augusto Fernandez took the final podium position, with poleman Lowes crossing the finish line fourth. The battle for fifth came down to a feisty and touchy final turn, with Vietti taking the checkered flag six hundredths of a second ahead of Chantra, but the Italian got demoted one position for exceeding track limits on the final lap. Gardner won’t be particularly happy with seventh place but probably not as unhappy as Bezzecchi, who faded to 10th, behind Canet and Luthi.
The mixed fortunes in the Red Bull KTM Ajo camp means that Gardner’s advantage in the world championship standings is reduced to 19 points by teammate Fernandez, while Bezzecchi is the closest rival but 47 points behind the leader.
|12||21||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Kalex||+21.703|
|19||24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||+38.643|
|5||Yari Montella||Boscoscuro||10 Laps|
|42||Marcos Ramirez||Kalex||12 Laps|
|70||Barry Baltus||NTS||15 Laps|
|19||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Kalex||20 Laps|
|75||Albert Arenas||Boscoscuro||24 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|9||Jorge Navarro||Boscoscuro||0 Lap|