Fabio Quartararo took the lead of the Moto2 race at Motegi within two laps and never let go, taking his second win of the season and cementing the young French rider's early promise as a rider to watch. The Sunday win, however, wasn't carefree as the Speed Up rider faced relentless pressure from championship leader Francesco Bagnaia who took a close second at the checkered flag.
Lorenzo Baldasari held on for a lonley third place to grab the final spot on the podium under a clear blue sky. Miguel Oliveira, secong in the championship, climbed through the ranks after a poor start to finish fourth just in front of Alex Marquez. The fourth place for Oliveira, however, widened the championship gap to Baldasari by another seven points leaving the two at 279 to 244 respectively.
Alex Marquez took fifth after dropping as low as eighth in the middle of the race. Brad Binder, consistent all weekend, grabbed sixth just ahead of August Fernandez (7th). Xavi Vierge, Iker Lecuona and Luca Marini completed the top 10.
Bagnaia push to the front immediately, grabbing the holeshot and establishing a small gap within three corners. But matching the championship-leader's pace was Quartararo. The race quickly settled into a rythm with Baldassarri in third (a position he'd hold for the entire race) and Xavi Vierge in fourth, chased by Alex Marquez, Brad Binder and Agusto Fernandez.
Oliveira, anxious to catch his title rival, made quick work of Marquez and moved into fifth. With 20 laps to go, Quartararo dove inside Bagnaia to seize the lead. Bagnaia had a clear choice to make: Hunt down and try to pass Quartararo immediately or settle into second place behind the Frenchman who didn't factor into the championship.
Bagnaia chose the latter.
Quartararo opened gap or two-tenths of a second. With 18 laps to go, it grew into four-tenths as he began setting some of the fastest laps of the race. But a handful of laps later, Bagnaia began to claw back some time, closing within a tenth. The pair opened a gap on the rest of the field.
Oliveira began to quicken his pace and with eight laps remaining, passed Veirge for fourth. But by this point, the leaders were out front by 1.3 seconds. At the front, Bagnaia began to hound Quartararo. Nose to tail, the two began to lap in the 1'51s. With four laps remaining, Bagnaia lunged at Turn Seven only to have the opening slammed shut by Quartararo. Bagnaia still pressed.
On the race's final lap and unwilling to give up a shot at a second Moto2 career win, Quartararo set the fastest lap of race, a 1'51.381 to secure the lead and take the win.
After the race, the tire pressures of Fabio Quartararo were found to be below the minimum set by Dunlop, the official tire supplier. Quartararo was disqualified for contravening section 18.104.22.168.1 of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations. Quartararo's result is nullified, making Pecco Bagnaia the winner.
|15||87||Remy Gardner||Tech 3||+24.468|
|22||89||Khairul Idham Pawi||Kalex||+37.921|
|23||57||Edgar Pons||Speed Up||+42.570|
|20||FRA||Mb Conveyors - Speed Up||0 Lap|
|64||Bo Bendsneyder||Tech 3||1 Lap|
|9||Jorge Navarro||Kalex||9 Laps|
|21||Federico Fuligni||Kalex||13 Laps|
|24||Simone Corsi||Kalex||19 Laps|