After sampling a wet track on Friday and a hot dry track on Saturday, Sunday couldn’t make up its mind for the intermediate class, a damp track throwing another unknown into the mix. And that wasn’t even the start of it, rain causing a red flag after only seven laps completed and turning one race into two sprints to the flag.
The first race saw Oliveira get a great start to go into the lead in turn one but Pasini was not one to give it up so easily, the poleman back into top position by the end of lap one and gapping Oliveira by nearly half a second. Bagnaia and Morbidelli followed him through on the Portuguese rider one lap later, the order settling for the following laps, while most of the top ten was challenging for fastest laps.
Marquez and Binder also had a pair of good starts which saw them joining the lead group while second row starter Jorge Navarro was dropping back slightly. Marquez tagged along to the back of Oliveira’s KTM while Binder yoyo-ed back and forth between the leaders and the five-man chasing pack led by Xavi Vierge.
Vierge might have struggled in qualifying but was up from seventeenth into seventh by lap three, having to deal with a one second gap to the top six. The Spaniard couldn’t make much of an impression on the gap and the mission was taken over by Tom Luthi. Luthi took the steady route from his twelfth qualifying position, the Swiss rider tenth by lap four and overtaking Vierge for seventh soon after.
All changed on lap seven, when some spits of rain turned into a spooky affair and several hands went up in the lead group signalling the poor conditions. The red flag came out on lap eight and a new six-lap sprint/race was reconvened on a wet track after the rain stopped.
With the order from the last completed lap taken as grid configuration, Pasini was again on “pole”, followed by Morbidelli and Oliveira. Bagnaia, Marquez and Binder made the second row, with Luthi, Vierge and Marini on the third.
Luthi and Marquez were the big winners at the restart, looking more like a plane taking off than a bike in the wet. The Swiss rider blasted into the lead, with Marquez close behind, both riders on used wet tyres. Opposite luck for poleman Pasini, who crashed out on the very first lap while running third.
While Luthi was building a gap of over a second on Marquez, another second separated the Spaniard from the pursuers by the end of lap one. Oliveira and Bagnaia were left in charge of the chase as Morbidelli was dropping back towards the end of the top ten and giving away precious points to his main title rival who was running away at the front. Running eight and with over two seconds keeping him away from the top seven, the world championship leader had three eager Moto2 rookies to keep at bay.
Luthi continued to post red sectors, his gap up to four seconds on lap four, Marquez in no man’s land in second position. Oliveira looked like the main contender for the final podium spot, significant gaps building all throughout the top ten. Meanwhile, Marini, Vierge and Corsi made it past Bagnaia, some more spots of rain toning down the pace with two laps left.
Luthi managed his lead well, despite Marquez posting a personal best on the penultimate lap, the Swiss rider making the most of this unlikely opportunity and winning the Czech GP to get right back into the title hunt.
Marquez took second spot on the podium, Oliveira repayed with third place for his efforts in both races. Luca Marini grabbed an excellent career-best fourth spot, ahead of an equally deserving Vierge, who almost missed the second race after his bike failed to start in pitlane.
Corsi will have been happy with sixth after his grid penalty, with Bagnaia perhaps disappointing in seventh place after being a contender in the initial race. The world championship leader crossed the line eighth, although Remy Gardner gave it a good go at deposing him. The Tech 3 rider joined his teammate in the top nine, with new boy Joe Roberts showing yet again good speed in the wet to grab tenth place.
Morbidelli keeps his lead in the championship but Luthi cuts it down to only 17 points. Marquez equals Oliveira’s tally, both riders 49 points down on the leader.
|5||97||Xavi VIERGE||Tech 3||+11.064|
|6||24||Simone CORSI||Speed Up||+15.779|
|9||87||Remy GARDNER||Tech 3||+19.843|
|14||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||+22.940|
|27||37||Augusto FERNANDEZ||Speed Up||+30.555|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|54||Mattia PASINI||Kalex||0 Lap|
|11||Sandro CORTESE||Suter||0 Lap|
|77||Dominique AEGERTER||Suter||0 Lap|