The intermediate class got a sunny welcome ahead of 25 eventful laps around the Misano circuit, although a victory from pole might not suggest the right level of drama. Although Sam Lowes was back to winning ways for the first time since way back in Qatar, it wasn’t a simple mission to get there. Even more difficult was for Augusto Fernandez to achieve a Marc VDS one-two while having to contend with a long lap penalty for irresponsible riding in Q2, but the Spaniard’s excellent pace allowed him to claim second place from Aron Canet, in a dramatic final corner move.
Lowes had made a fast start from pole, ahead of Canet and Jorge Navarro but Canet quickly got ahead at turn 9 to lead proceedings on lap 2. Augusto Fernandez had dropped to fourth at the start and swiftly took his long lap penalty, which dropped him further back to 14th position, a little over three seconds off the lead. Meanwhile, in the Ajo camp, Raul Fernandez had recovered a couple of places to climb up 7th on the opening lap, as did Gardner down in 11th.
Back ahead, Canet could not shake off the pursuers early on and was punished by Navarro by the end of lap four, his attempt to retaliate allowing the poleman to resume control of the race. The shenanigans at the front also allowed Raul Fernandez to get past Navarro and join the provisional podium positions, while teammate Gardner was making his way through the bottom of the top 10.
With Lowes attempting an escape at the front, Raul Fernandez picked up the chase on lap six, with seven tenths to find on the leader and provisionally taking over in the championship standings, while Gardner was stuck down in 8th place. The Australian’s next move on Somkiat Chantra at turn 14 was a controversial one, the late lunge nudging the Thai rider into a crash, but while the stewards were looking at that, Gardner had no time to rest, as Augusto Fernandez, the fastest man on track at that early stage, was glued to his tail.
Back at the front, Lowes made his first mistake at a wobbly turn 14, which allowed Raul Fernandez to close the gap to the leader, with Canet somewhat in tow. One second back, Celestino Vietti, cosplaying as a highlighter pen in tribute to his famous teacher, led the pursuit ahead of Navarro and Stefano Manzi, with Gardner and Augusto Fernandez trading places another second back. Once the Spaniard got past Gardner at turn 8, he quickly dropped the Australian and bridged the gap to the men ahead to join the fight for fourth.
Lowes continued to lead the way to the halfway mark of the race but Fernandez found a gap with 12 laps remaining, just as teammate Gardner was served with a long lap penalty for irresponsible riding. However, before Fernandez could even be notified of his teammate’s misfortune, the rookie rolled through the gravel trap quite dramatically at turn 8, leaving Lowes back in charge, with Canet half a second back. Navarro inherited third but had to fend off Augusto Fernandez, Vietti and Manzi to keep it, while Gardner’s gap to the men behind allowed him to take the long lap penalty without losing seventh place, albeit it was soon followed by a track limits warning. To make matters worse, Marco Bezzecchi caught up with him and demoted him to 8th place with seven laps remaining.
Meanwhile, Lowes’ reign was halted when Canet got past at turn 8 with seven laps remaining and another big wobble for the British rider dropped him over half a second behind the Spaniard. Despite Lowes’ issues, that was not his last bid for victory, the Marc VDS rider catching back up with Canet for the final handful of laps and getting past at turn 2. A couple seconds back, Navarro made a mistake of his own, dropping him out of podium contention and leaving Vietti to fend off Augusto Fernandez for the final podium spot. That proved to be a difficult challenge, the Spaniard getting past with five laps remaining and getting back in the position he started the race from. Rather than settling for third, Fernandez pushed to catch up with Canet, who allowed Lowes a one second gap at the front.
The Brit took the chequered flag quite comfortably in the lead and despite a rapid final lap for Canet, Fernandez took advantage at the very last corner to make it a Marc VDS top two. A disgruntled and fuel-less Canet settled for third, with rookie Vietti in fourth, ahead of Navarro and Manzi. Bezzecchi’s late crash at turn 15 promoted Gardner to seventh place and handed him an extra point in the championship battle, the Australian extending his advantage to 18 points over his rookie teammate.
|8||21||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Kalex||+15.868|
|19||24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||+50.787|
|20||7||Lorenzo Baldassarri||MV Agusta||+1'02.974|
|72||Marco Bezzecchi||Kalex||3 Laps|
|97||Xavi Vierge||Kalex||9 Laps|
|14||Tony Arbolino||Kalex||9 Laps|
|27||Mattia Casadei||Kalex||10 Laps|
|25||Raul Fernandez||Kalex||11 Laps|
|40||Hector Garzo||Kalex||13 Laps|
|10||Tommaso Marcon||NTS||16 Laps|
|6||Cameron Beaubier||Kalex||17 Laps|
|35||Somkiat Chantra||Kalex||19 Laps|