Sixteen degrees and pouring rain wasn’t exactly a red carpet welcome for the intermediate class, the tricky conditions seeing some surprising performances, of the good and bad varieties. Despite starting in eighth position, Jonas Folger was the big winner from start to finish, taking over from the poleman and steadily building a gap that extended to almost five seconds, the German taking his first win of the season.
The rain was good news for Alex Rins as well, the Spaniard converting a third row start into a silver-covered trophy after a comfortable ride ahead of Sam Lowes. The Brit seemed to be the big loser at the start, ending the lead group of six that was starting to form, but making his way back to the top to ride into third, with a few hairy moments along the way.
A third into the race, the top four had already started to see some significant gaps formed, with Takaaki Nakagami leading a small group with Hafizh Syahrin and Alex Marquez four seconds back on the podium contenders. As Marquez was on the move to lead the chasers, Matia Pasini and Luca Marini joined the fight, both seeming to enjoy the tricky conditions. While the first Italian went on to finish just off the podium in fourth, Marini lost control and crashed out halfway through the race. Almost at the same time as that incident, Simone Corsi and Nakagami tangled, the Japanese crashing out and ending his race-finish record, Corsi earning a ride-through penalty.
Slowly but surely, large gaps appeared in the top eight, only Pasini and Marquez enjoying a gap under one second but without much of a fight, Marquez finishing behind the Italtrans rider, in fifth. Sandro Cortese briefly joined that battle but a late incident with Pasini saw him crash out.
But Sunday’s biggest loser was the championship leader, Johann Zarco starting to go backwards after a decent start, stuck in the second group outside of the top ten. With fifteen laps to go, the championship leader had dropped out of the points positions but managed to snatch a few after several crashes and penalties, dealing with unfamiliar competition in Xavi Vierge, Xavier Simeon and Isaac Vinales.
That eleventh place for Zarco and a podium for Rins tightened up the title fight to 19 points, with Lowes a full race win behind Rins.
|12||97||Xavi VIERGE||Tech 3||+37.377|
|13||60||Julian SIMON||Speed Up||+37.456|
|14||32||Isaac VIÑALES||Tech 3||+37.579|
|15||19||Xavier SIMEON||Speed Up||+37.776|
|19||24||Simone CORSI||Speed Up||+1'09.535|
|25||14||Ratthapark WILAIROT||Kalex||1 Lap|
|30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||Kalex||9 Laps|
|10||Luca MARINI||Kalex||10 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|49||Axel PONS||Kalex||0 Lap|