After the disaster of the Moto3 race, the intermediate class was back to basics, with a lot of blue and orange in the limelight, but with the right amount of drama in there too. At the end of 18 difficult laps – difficult for everyone but Raul Fernandez – the Spaniard claimed his third consecutive victory and equalled Marc Marquez’s record as the rookie with most Moto2 wins. Fabio Di Giannantonio did his best to challenge the runaway victor, but was happy enough to return to the podium on its second step, while compatriot Marco Bezzecchi shared the cava in third place.
Poleman Fernandez probably did not expect to have an easy time with his teammate right besides him on the grid but the challenge going into turn 1 came from local favourite Cameron Beaubier. Although the American very briefly led his home race, the enthusiastic approach to the first corner dropped him right back behind the two Red Bull KTM Ajo boys, as well as Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi. Despite a couple exchanges with teammate Gardner, Raul Fernandez was back in control by lap two, while Gardner was immediately under fire from Beaubier and Di Giannantonio, but with a sizeable group still in tow.
Fernandez was not too worried about the group as he quickly extended a one second gap by lap 3, with Di Giannantonio leading the pursuit, but a wobble at turn 15 lost him position to both Gardner and Beaubier. Bezzecchi and Tony Arbolino tagged along for the ride, but the next group led by Xavi Vierge had dropped eight tenths down the road and the gaps continued to increase.
Although Fernandez did not have a problem maintaining his advantage over the next few laps, he was helped a bit by Beaubier challenging Gardner. The Australian was given a bit of a breather by a mistake at turn 11 from the American but his fortunes quickly changed and an uncharacteristic mistake at turn 15 ended Gardner’s race on lap six. Di Giannantonio picked up the task of reeling in Fernandez once more, and it initially looked like the 2-second gap was manageable, but Fernandez picked up the pace again and kept the Italian at a respectable distance. Di Giannantonio did not have much to worry about from behind, with Bezzecchi one second back and the battle for fourth, between Beaubier and Augusto Fernandez, was over two seconds behind him. Meanwhile, a slow starting Sam Lowes retired on lap nine with some technical niggles.
Raul Fernandez continued to lead the way past the halfway mark of the race and although Di Giannantonio seemed to recover a couple tenths here and there, the Spaniard entered the final handful of laps with over two seconds in his pocket. With Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi pretty secure in their podium positions, all eyes were on Augusto Fernandez, Beaubier and Arbolino, who were still in contention for fourth. The cameras were also kept busy by quite a few crashes in the latter half of the race, including the likes of Albert Arenas and Celestino Vietti dropping out of top 10 positions. Fernandez wrapped up the race with his almost trademark consistency, taking the chequered flag 1.7 seconds ahead of Di Giannantonio, with Bezzecchi securing third, although Augusto Fernandez closed the gap significantly over the final few laps. Beaubier took his first top five in the class on home soil and got a loud reception, followed by rookies Arbolino and Ai Ogura and the more experienced Xavi Vierge, Marcos Ramirez and Jake Dixon completing the top 10.
The bittersweet afternoon for the Red Bull KTM Ajo squad sees Raul Fernandez close the gap to Gardner in the championship standings to only nine points, with Bezzecchi keeping third, 65 points behind.
|2||21||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Kalex||+1.734|
|13||24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||+22.913|
|22||7||Lorenzo Baldassarri||MV Agusta||+47.168|
|13||Celestino Vietti||Kalex||4 Laps|
|23||Marcel Schrotter||Kalex||5 Laps|
|75||Albert Arenas||Boscoscuro||7 Laps|
|40||Hector Garzo||Kalex||8 Laps|
|22||Sam Lowes||Kalex||9 Laps|
|87||Remy Gardner||Kalex||13 Laps|
|12||Thomas Luthi||Kalex||16 Laps|