Despite ever darker clouds gathering around the Ricardo Tormo circuit, the rain held back long enough for the intermediate class race to unfold. And it was another dramatic affair, Miguel Oliveira the ultimate victor on his 50th and last appearance in the class. Iker Lecuona lived up to the promise he showed throughout the weekend to take second place, while the early leader of the race, Alex Marquez, grabbed the final step of the podium despite taking a tumble halfway through.
It was a different story at the start, front row starter Xavi Vierge attacking straight away to pick up the lead but many of his pursuers stole the attention of the cameras as poleman Luca Marini slipped out at turn two and was immediately joined in the gravel trap by Joan Mir and Lorenzo Baldassarri, while a couple more riders were forced wide. One of them was world champion Pecco Baganaia, who managed to stay up and start a recovery ride from 23rd position.
Back at the front, Vierge was being challenged by Mattia Pasini, Oliveira and Marquez, the Portuguese rider picking up the lead by lap two and stretching a barely comfortable eighth tenths’ lead. By lap three, Lecuona had joined the party at the sharp end, having started 21st, while the chasing pack led by Sam Lowes was over a second back. The British rider abandoned ship by the end of that very lap, letting Marcel Schrotter pick up the chase.
On lap five, Marquez was glued to the back of Oliveira and the duo was a full second ahead of the battle between Vierge and Lecuona, with Pasini a little lonely two seconds down. The younger Marquez attacked at the start of lap six and quickly put a second into Oliveira, while the list of fallers was growing ever bigger.
Leader Marquez continued to reel in fastest laps while Vierge and Lecuona were closing in on Oliveira, which was a wake up call for the Red Bull KTM rider. By lap ten, the top four riders were putting in a fierce rhythm, leaving Pasini over eight seconds down the road. The first to blink was Vierge, the Spaniard abandoning the race at turn eight on lap 12 and letting Lecuona into the podium places, three seconds down on Oliveira. That gap quickly grew to six seconds with a mistake in turn 14 but Pasini was much too far to take profit.
Halfway through the race, the gap between Marquez and Oliveira kept steady at 1.7 seconds and the Portuguese rider was on a charge once again but before he managed to show a wheel to Marquez, the Spaniard slipped out in turn 14. However, with the massive gaps at the front, Marquez rejoined the race in third position and had to fend off Pasini for the final podium place.
Oliveira inherited the lead but despite witnessing his rival’s mistake and the seven seconds’ advantage to Lecuona in second, he did not ease down and continued to comfortably post fastest sector times until the checkered flag. Lecuona was stuck in no man’s land in second position while Marquez quickly disposed of Pasini to secure third in the race and snatch fourth in the world championship.
Pasini had another lonely ride to fourth place, with Remy Gardner scoring his best ever Grand Prix finish in fifth. Fabio Quartataro took a great sixth place after suffering an issue on the grid and having to start last. Schrotter, Augusto Fernandez, Andrea Locatelli and Simone Corsi took the remaining top ten positions. The reigning world champion took the flag in his lovely celebratory livery in 14th position.
|5||87||Remy GARDNER||Tech 3||+30.106|
|6||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||Speed Up||+32.126|
|19||21||Federico FULIGNI||Kalex||1 Lap|
|20||3||Lukas TULOVIC||Suter||1 Lap|
|66||Niki TUULI||Kalex||6 Laps|
|97||Xavi VIERGE||Kalex||12 Laps|
|16||Joe ROBERTS||NTS||17 Laps|
|70||Tommaso MARCON||Speed Up||18 Laps|
|9||Jorge NAVARRO||Kalex||20 Laps|
|41||Brad BINDER||KTM||22 Laps|
|22||Sam LOWES||KTM||22 Laps|
|89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||23 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|10||Luca MARINI||Kalex||0 Lap|
|7||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI||Kalex||0 Lap|
|36||Joan MIR||Kalex||0 Lap|