Two races done and dusted in Buriram and two different tales were told. The intermediate class script had a little for everyone: a close battle for the lead between the title contenders, a masterful getaway from the eventual victor and a late comeback for the young hopeful. But the spoils went to Pecco Bagnaia, who got the best of Miguel Oliveira in a straight fight and took off at the front to score the 800th Italian win in the grand prix world championship. Teammate Luca Marini did him a massive favour by demoting Oliveira another spot on the final lap and became a usual sight on the podium. Oliveira settled for the final podium position after struggling to keep up with the SKY tag team.
Poleman Lorenzo Baldassarri was a protagonist in the first part of the race, holding position at the start but Bagnaia was relentless and shot from the back of the second row into the lead by lap two. The flatmate battle was soon joined by the KTMs of Oliveira and Brad Binder. The feisty orange bikes were quite determined to advance, Binder making an aggressive move on Alex Marquez, which pushed the Spaniard down to ninth, while Oliveira showed very keen to get past Baldassarri.
By the end of lap three, the two title contenders were showing the way and engaged in battle early on, while Binder and Baldassarri were keeping close behind. Marini was next best but already one second down on the leaders and coming under fire from a recovering Marquez. The Spaniard was leading the pursuit by lap five but the fight was short lived as the Marc VDS rider crashed out while running the quickest pace on track. That put an end to a dreadful ten minutes for the team, as Joan Mir had crashed out on lap one in an incident that also took out Marcel Schrotter.
Meanwhile, Bagnaia and Oliveira were putting on a show at the front of the race, with Binder keen to have a share of the pie without disturbing his teammate too much. Baldassarri had already lost touch with the leaders and eventually crashed out on lap nine, leaving Marini to lead the chase ahead of Fabio Quartararo and with Mattia Pasini another second back. The SKY rider had almost tagged the lead group but a big moment out of the saddle cost him all that good work. The fierce battle at the front would have allowed the two youngsters to catch up somewhat but they were not making their job any easier, Quartararo and Marini attacking each other incessantly.
Back at the sharp end, Binder was posting the fastest lap of the race in an attempt to just keep up with Bagnaia and Oliveira, who were edging ahead just a bit despite frequent exchanges of the lead. As the race ticked over the halfway mark, Bagnaia was back ahead of his rival and attempted a bit of an escape, taking the gap to one full second with ten laps to go. Oliveira was forced to post personal best times in the baking hot and slippery conditions but the Portuguese rider could not match the Italian’s speed.
The next couple of laps finally gave everyone a bit of a breather, Bagnaia taking off at the front and adding another tenth to his gap every other lap. The KTMs were holding station in podium positions but in very close proximity, while Marini was holding off Quartararo quite successfully. The final four laps saw Marini getting dangerously close to the KTMs ahead and lined up a move on Binder in the final turn with two laps remaining. The next mission to aid his teammate was an attack on Oliveira and that one had to wait until the very last lap, when Oliveira went in too hot in turn three and allowed the young Italian past. Marini defended impeccably to bring home a one-two for SKY Racing Team.
Oliveira settled for third ahead of wingman Binder in fourth. Pasini finished a lonely race in sixth position, five seconds behind the top five and three seconds ahead of Iker Lecuona and Tetsuta Nagashima. Andrea Locatelli and Simone Corsi rounded out the top ten with solo rides of their own. Marini’s late surge gifted another handful of points to his teammate’s advantage in the world championship, Bagnaia now leading by 28 points ahead of Oliveira.
|5||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||Speed Up||+6.260|
|12||87||Remy GARDNER||Tech 3||+23.957|
|14||64||Bo BENDSNEYDER||Tech 3||+26.302|
|19||57||Edgar PONS||Speed Up||+40.294|
|21||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||+41.349|
|22||Sam LOWES||KTM||1 Lap|
|7||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI||Kalex||14 Laps|
|73||Alex MARQUEZ||Kalex||18 Laps|
|62||Stefano MANZI||Suter||23 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|40||Augusto FERNANDEZ||Kalex||0 Lap|
|23||Marcel SCHROTTER||Kalex||0 Lap|
|36||Joan MIR||Kalex||0 Lap|