If there was any doubt, the rain was here to stay on Sunday, the skies pouring all over the intermediate class race. With little track action here and there, the freshly painted run-offs and already ploughed gravel traps got plenty of airtime, both live and in replay, the race turning into a battle for survival rather than any daring missions. But it was an excellent result for Switzerland, with front row starter Dominique Aegerter scoring Suter their first win in three years and title contender Tom Luthi reviving his challenge with his tenth podium of the season. After starting fourteenth, Hafizh Syahrin swam his way into the final cava-earning position for the first time in five years.
Poleman Mattia Pasini’s race was off to a different start, the Italian dropping to third spot after the lights went off, while Franco Morbidelli reclaimed his favourite position at the front. The world championship leader quickly got a gap of over a second on Aegerter by lap two as the poleman had also lost over a second on the second placed man with a dangerous looking group behind him.
Starting ninth, Miguel Oliveira was up to fourth halfway thought the first lap while Luthi lost a spot to eighth but steadily climbed back to sixth. Luca Marini also looked in fine form early on but his home race was over before completing lap one after a highside in the last turn. Pasini and Lorenzo Baldassarri also left the podium battle as the Italian duo slid out in heavy rain on lap three. That left Oliveira, Takaaki Nakagami, Luthi and Syahrin to battle for the final podium position. Luthi got past the Japanese rider soon after and set off for Oliveira.
Morbidelli’s red hot pace looked like a repeat of Moto3 tactics but the trick turned sour and the world championship leader went down fast in turn eight on lap four, just as his main title rival took charge of the chasing group, a second and a half behind designated leader Aegerter. Luthi needed a handful of laps to get close to his compatriot, leaving Oliveira almost two seconds behind, with a small but comforting gap to Syahrin and a pond-sized one to Nakagami.
By lap ten, only two tenths of a second separated Aegerter and Luthi up front, while Oliveira did not even manage to get to the end of said lap before losing the front at high speed in the final turn. Over four seconds down the road, Syahrin provisionally inherited the final podium position, with Nakagami another six seconds behind and significant gaps throughout the top ten already, the only real battle for tenth place.
Despite a few wiggles, the Kiefer rider kept top spot safe from his compatriot, no one willing to risk too much. No one bar Syahrin that was, “The Fish” running a second faster than Luthi with ten laps to go and cutting the gap to two and a half seconds. Fifteen seconds behind the podium positions, Nakagami was caught by Pecco Bagnaia in the final ten laps, Simone Corsi only a second behind. Brad Binder and Fabio Quartararo had significant gaps in seventh and eight positions, Sandro Cortese and Stefano Manzi completing the top ten.
Luthi finally attacked with nine laps to go but ran wildly wide and let Aegerter back in. Meanwhile, Syahrin’s gap was down to one and a half seconds as Bagnaia found a way past Nakagami with seven laps remaining. The Malaysian rain enthusiast was still setting red sectors on the final laps of the race, but Luthi also picked up the pace to meet Syahrin’s challenge. The Petronas rider listened to the handful of warnings from his bike and settled for third position in the last laps.
Luthi continued to put pressure on his compatriot until the final two laps, when he let Aegerter go away and safely rode home, much like Syahrin in third and Bagnaia in fourth positions. Nakagami crashed out of a safe fifth in turn four on the final lap, leaving Corsi and Binder to battle for that spot with red sectors in the last lap – a story ending with the Italian in the grass in the final turn. Binder snatched fifth, with Cortese sixth after Quartararo had a time penalty applied after the flag. The Frenchman only lost one spot, with Corsi rejoining in eighth position followed by another rain enthusiast, Khairul Idham Pawi.
The top ten was completed by Jesko Raffin, with Nakagami also rejoining in eleventh position. Out of sixteen finishers, the rest of the positions were also occupied by riders who had crashed, the likes of Alex De Angelis twelfth, Remy Gardner thirteenth and Tetsuta Nagashima fourteenth – all three hitting the deck twice during the race.
Morbidelli’s crash put some more coal into the championship fire, Luthi getting as close as nine points to his rival. Alex Marquez missed the race after his Friday crash but kept third position in the standings, 68 points down on his teammate, after four-placed Oliveira also slid out of the race.
|8||24||Simone CORSI||Speed Up||+56.926|
|9||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||+1'01.495|
|12||15||Alex DE ANGELIS||Suter||1 Lap|
|13||87||Remy GARDNER||Tech 3||1 Lap|
|14||45||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA||Kalex||1 Lap|
|15||97||Xavi VIERGE||Tech 3||1 Lap|
|16||22||Federico FULIGNI||Kalex||1 Lap|
|62||Stefano MANZI||Kalex||4 Laps|
|20||Joe ROBERTS||Kalex||14 Laps|
|5||Andrea LOCATELLI||Kalex||15 Laps|
|27||Iker LECUONA||Kalex||15 Laps|
|44||Miguel OLIVEIRA||KTM||16 Laps|
|19||Xavier SIMEON||Kalex||17 Laps|
|37||Augusto FERNANDEZ||Speed Up||17 Laps|
|32||Isaac VIÑALES||Kalex||19 Laps|
|9||Jorge NAVARRO||Kalex||21 Laps|
|57||Edgar PONS||Kalex||21 Laps|
|21||Franco MORBIDELLI||Kalex||23 Laps|
|54||Mattia PASINI||Kalex||24 Laps|
|7||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI||Kalex||24 Laps|
|6||Tarran MACKENZIE||Suter||25 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|10||Luca MARINI||Kalex||0 Lap|