The rain kept away from the intermediate class, although it did briefly show intentions, but we still got a show of nearly Moto3 proportions. Championship leader Franco Morbidelli always looked like the favourite for the win, but the trophy doesn’t tell the story of what appeared to be an uncertain victory for the Italian.
But Morbidelli kept his cool to make a move when it mattered, relegating Tom Luthi to second position on the final lap, with third place decided, strangely, after the flag waved. Takaaki Nakagami put in a sweet move on Pasini into the final chicane, the Italian running wide and keeping third place despite going outside of track limits. He was penalized and Nakagami got to enjoy the cava on the podium.
It always looked like a showdown between the main championship contenders, a brilliant start for Luthi putting him in front of Morbidelli. But it wasn’t to last, the Swiss rider making a mistake and finding himself fourth by the end of the first lap. Morbidelli was pushing for a gap once back in the lead but Oliveira was pressuring him from behind, the Portuguese rider taking over the lead on lap five. Nakagami tried his luck too, but found himself going backwards instead, back to fifth by lap six.
Starting seventh, Alex Marquez got past Fabio Quartararo, Pasini and Xavier Simeon on the first lap, his next mission to catch up with Luthi. Once that mission was checked off, he went in pursuit of his teammate, that task impeded somewhat by Pasini reminding him that he’s still around. Once past Marquez, the Italian also got the best of his compatriot and taking the responsibility of catching Oliveira. A slipstream at the end of lap seven helped his cause, Pasini taking the lead as some minuscule spots of rain started appearing on the cameras.
Behind Pasini, a seven-man group was trying to stop him from building a gap at the front: Nakagami, Morbidelli, Luthi, Oliveira, Marquez and Simeon joined by Hafizh Syahrin, probably prompted by the mere smell of rain.
Nakagami took his turn in the lead on lap nine, his rivals holding station for a while, despite most of them posting red and orange sectors all throughout. While they all sniffed around each other to no decisive result, the rain flag came out on lap fifteen, prompting some action in case the race was going to be stopped by heavy rain.
The rain never seriously arrived but Pasini had started to lose ground, moving from second to fifth. Morbidelli saw his chance and set off for Nakagami while leaving his rivals behind, Luthi eight tenths of a second behind the duo and with Marquez, Pasini and Oliveira on his tail.
The world championship leader challenged for the lead with seven laps to go but Nakagami wouldn’t let him go just yet, back in the lead a few corners later. That squabble brought the chasers back into contention, Luthi past Morbidelli too, who fell into the clutches of his teammate.
Luthi was the next rider attempting to dethrone Nakagami, eventually picking him up with five laps to go, the top six riders split by hundredths of a second and exchanging positions quicker that I would be able to mention. In true Moto3 fashion, Nakagami went from first to fifth within two laps, leaving Pasini and Morbidelli to reel in the Swiss leader. Meanwhile, Marquez reached his limit and was dropping back on the penultimate lap, the Spaniard settling for sixth position in the end.
Morbidelli waited for the final half a lap to make his move and kept Luthi behind to the line as all eyes were on the close battle for third. With Pasini relegated to fourth place, Oliveira took fifth, Simeon seventh and Syahrin eighth – the Malaysian nearly out of it after a big moment in the beginning of the race. Some good points went to an improved Quartararo in nine position, followed by Pecco Bagnaia in tenth.
The victory extends Morbidelli’s lead in the championship to twelve points over Luthi, Marquez thirty-five points down on his teammate ahead of the German round of the world championship.
|16||87||Remy GARDNER||Tech 3||+22.008|
|19||37||Augusto FERNANDEZ||Speed Up||+32.231|
|26||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||3 Laps|
|32||Isaac VIÑALES||Kalex||13 Laps|
|11||Sandro CORTESE||Suter||19 Laps|
|10||Luca MARINI||Kalex||23 Laps|
|24||Simone CORSI||Speed Up||23 Laps|