The intermediate class clearly read the same script as their younger counterparts and followed the Moto3 recipe to the very last lap. This was not a Moto2 race for napping and Miguel Oliveira made sure of that with a start that should have tipped us off as to who the strongest man on track was. The Portuguese rider fought until the final turn to bring KTM their first win of the season in entertaining fashion. His sparring partner throughout the race was Lorenzo Baldassarri, who made up for an average starting position with a great battle and a second place. Joan Mir rose to the occasion once again and stole the final podium spot from the championship leader.
That did not look to be the tale of the race at the start, when poleman Mattia Pasini dropped to seventh position and let Marcel Schrotter in the lead. The joy did not last long for the German, who only reached turn two before crashing out and leaving Marquez at the front, to fend off Pecco Bagnaia. Meanwhile, Oliveira was working wonders at the start, going from 11th on the grid to third on lap two – most of those places made up in the first turn – and soon after following Bagnaia through after his attack on Marquez.
By lap three, Oliveira was showing nothing of his usual early pace struggles and slipstreamed into the lead, ahead of Bagnaia. Pasini had recovered some ground to get past Marquez for third, the lead group also including Romano Fenati, Mir and Baldassarri. A second down the road, Simone Corsi was leading a big group with Xavi Vierge and Jorge Navarro – who slid out of the race soon after.
While Marquez was struggling early on and some mistakes saw him drop to the back of the lead group, Pasini was on fire and challenged Oliveira for the lead on lap five. The Portuguese rider fought back and the duo swapped spots as if it was the last lap. Two seconds down the road, Vierge had not given up on the podium fight and posted red hot sectors in the lead of the chasing pack. On lap eight, his task was helped by Fenati running off track and Marquez losing touch with the lead group after a nudge from Baldassarri. Nonetheless, it was not that easy as Vierge himself found a serious challenger in Brad Binder.
Back at the front, Pasini was maintaining a bit of a gap and Bagnaia picked up the task of reeling him in by lap nine, ahead of Oliveira and Baldassarri. The Pons rider was on a charge and left the Marc VDS teammates almost a second behind, Marquez hunting down Mir.
At the halfway mark, Pasini had stretched an advantage of over half a second over Oliveira while Bagnaia fell prey to Baldassarri. Things came crashing down for Pasini – quite literally in turn one with eight laps to go – Oliveira inheriting the lead but coming under threat from Baldassarri. Bagnaia had dropped over a second back on the battle for victory and his final podium spot looked tempting to Mir and Marquez, if the pair could find half a second to the Italian. Mir did, Marquez not quite.
Baldassarri made a move with six laps to go but Oliveira bided his time and snapped back one lap later. The ensuing manic battle between the two allowed Bagnaia and Mir to dream of a win and quickly bring the gap down to half a second. Whatever Bagnaia’s early troubles were, the final three laps saw him glued to the rear tyre of Oliveira, Baldassarri only a tenth of a second ahead, with Mir half a second back on the leading trio. The Sky rider did not mingle in battle straight away, letting Oliveira and Baldassarri have their fun and that cost him a position to Mir at the start of the final lap.
Baldassarri was pushing hard on the last lap, just about taming wild shakes from his bike in turn 5 but Oliveira pounced and got his first win of the season. Mir fended off Bagnaia to the flag, while Marquez came home in a safe but perhaps disappointing fifth place. KTM’s fairytale day continued with a sixth place for Binder, which sounds much more impressive if you consider his 19th grid position. Luca Marini grabbed seventh in his home race, with compatriot Andrea Locatelli scoring his best result in the class with eighth place. Vierge climbed into ninth and Corsi finished his 250th grand prix in the top ten.
Despite missing out on the podium, Bagnaia keeps the lead in the world championship ahead of Oliveira but the KTM rider brings the gap down to 13 points. Baldassarri climbs one position to trail his roommate by 27 points. Mixed fortunes for the Marc VDS duo sees Marquez down to fourth, 33 points back and Mir jumps two positions into fifth.
|11||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||Speed Up||+17.843|
|18||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||+43.900|
|20||14||Hector GARZO||Tech 3||+56.603|
|45||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA||Kalex||6 Laps|
|40||Hector BARBERA||Kalex||6 Laps|
|54||Mattia PASINI||Kalex||8 Laps|
|95||Jules DANILO||Kalex||9 Laps|
|62||Stefano MANZI||Suter||11 Laps|
|52||Danny KENT||Speed Up||12 Laps|
|13||Romano FENATI||Kalex||14 Laps|
|22||Sam LOWES||KTM||15 Laps|
|9||Jorge NAVARRO||Kalex||17 Laps|
|64||Bo BENDSNEYDER||Tech 3||0 Lap|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|23||Marcel SCHROTTER||Kalex||0 Lap|