Thomas Luthi, who last year endured a miserable season in MotoGP, returned to his Moto2 winning ways Sunday at the Circuit of the Americas track near Austin, Texas. Luthi's dominant win put him third in the championship, just two points behind Dynavolt teammate Marcel Schrotter who finished the race in second.
Jorge Navarro worked his way through the pack to take the final podium spot. But to take that third, Navarro had to hold off Moto2's biggest surprise of the weekend: Mattia Pasini. The veteran rider, who retired this year when a ride was not forthcoming, had expected to attend the race only as a commentator for Italian television.
But he jumped at the chance to be a fill-in replacement in Texas for the injured Agusto Fernandez. Pasini had not raced this year and had never ridden the new, Triumph-powered Moto2 bikes. It didn't seem to matter much. He qualified the unfamilar bike in seventh and managed some of the field's fastest race laps to take fourth.
Alex Marquez, who led the race early on, faded to fifth. Behind him Luca Marini took sixth in front of Sam Lowes (7th). Simone Corsi spent much of the race in eighth and finished there. Enea Bastianini (9th) and Andrea Locatelli rounded out the top 10. Lorenzo Baldassarri crashed early in the contest but remains in the championship lead by three points after winning the season's first two races.
Schrotter led into uphill Turn 1 but ran wide. Both Marquez and Luthi slipped through. The top three remained at the front for the early part of the race and with 14 laps to go, Lowes, Navarro, Marini, Corsi and Pasini chased in the following pack. Marquez managed to gap the field by half a second as the riders began to string out in COTA fashion.
Luthi upped his pace and locked onto Marquez's tail with 12 laps left. One lap later, Luthi showed his hand and passed Marquez at Turn 1. Marquez retaliated at Turn 4 to retake the lead. But at Turn 12 following the long backstraight, Luthi made the pass stick for good and began to open a gap. Schrotter began to close on Marquez.
Back in the pack, Pasini began moving through, turning lap times faster than the race leaders. With nine laps to go, Luthi opened a one-second gap to Marquez who was locked in a battle with Schrotter. Schrotter passed Marquez at 12 then Marquez passed him back immediately bumping the German rider in the process. But by the line, Schrotter seized second for good.
Two laps later, Luthi cleared off the front with nearly a three-second gap. With four laps remaining, Navarro passsed Marquez at Turn 11. Marini briefly took third from Navarro but lost it back to the eventual third-place finisher.
|3||9||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||+3.836|
|14||77||Dominique AEGERTER||MV Agusta||+27.462|
|17||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||+49.582|
|21||6||Gabriele RUIU||MV Agusta||+1'19.156|
|22||20||Dimas EKKY PRATAMA||Kalex||+1'19.286|
|27||Iker LECUONA||KTM||5 Laps|
|72||Marco BEZZECCHI||KTM||6 Laps|
|18||Xavi CARDELUS||KTM||12 Laps|
|41||Brad BINDER||KTM||16 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||0 Lap|
|7||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI||Kalex||0 Lap|
|97||Xavi VIERGE||Kalex||0 Lap|
|16||Joe ROBERTS||KTM||0 Lap|