Clouds were still keeping a close look on proceedings as the intermediate class was preparing for battle but rain never looked like a real threat for the second race of the day. And it would have been the only real threat to Alex Marquez, who rode a flawless race and ended a long wait for victory for both himself and Spain. At the 26th try, Marquez finally got another victory in the intermediate class and Spain went all out, claiming the entire podium with Jorge Navarro and Augusto Fernandez – the two enjoying a bit more action on track.
Experience trumped youth at the start, Tom Luthi getting away best from the front row and leading into turn one ahead of Marquez and Navarro. The poleman soon lost further ground to the second Marc VDS machine of Xavi Vierge and was getting hounded by Brad Binder, Lorenzo Baldassarri and Mattia Pasini. However, lap three spelled disaster for the Italians, Pasini getting caught up in Baldassarri’s crash and both forced into an early retirement from the race.
Marquez took control at the front at the start of lap four, after attacking Luthi into turn two and encouraging teammate Vierge to have a go at the Swiss rider soon after. The Marc VDS machines were trying to get a bit of a gap on the pursuer group led by Luthi and also comprising Simone Corsi, Navarro, Binder and Fernandez. Having started from outside the top ten on the grid, Remy Gardner was fighting to close in on the lead group and had seven tenths of a second to find on lap six. If the Australian was steadily progressing, Luthi did the opposite and was going backwards, allowing Corsi and Navarro past.
By lap eight, Marquez was unchallenged at the front, stretching half a second’s gap as Corsi attacked Vierge to pick up the chase. The Italian gave it a good go and got within three tenths of a second of the leader when he slid out at turn 13 and threw away what looked like his best performance of the season yet. That left Marquez with over a second’s advantage ahead of Navarro and Vierge, with Fernandez, Binder and Gardner not too far behind. Meanwhile, Luthi kept regressing, one second back on the chasing pack and being hunted down by teammate Marcel Schrotter in the battle for seventh.
At the halfway point of the race, both Marquez and Navarro were posting red hot laps, which meant that the gap didn’t budge too much, while Fernandez and Vierge were embroiled in an all Spanish battle for third, Binder starting to struggle behind them. The chasing pack did lose a man at this point, Gardner going down with 12 laps to go, right after posting his fastest lap. Navarro seemed to be entering the phase of the race where he thrived but a mistake dropped him into the clutches of compatriot Fernandez, who was not shy in challenging him straight away.
Marquez entered the final ten laps with a two second gap to manage and despite orange sectors from the Spanish trio behind him, the gap was very slow to come down. The orange was followed by red, Navarro posting the fastest time of the race only to have it stolen by Fernandez one lap later, who also stole his second spot when Navarro blinked and went wide in turn 8. However, the chasers’ bursts of speed were no match for the leader’s consistency in the final handful of laps and the two settled for dicing for podium spots to the checkered flag.
The final lap saw Navarro attack Fernandez into turn three on his way to reclaiming fastest lap and securing second on the podium. Binder got the best of Vierge in the last couple of laps in the battle for fourth, while Luthi settled for sixth, aided by incidents ahead. One lap longer and rookie Enea Bastianini would have turned into a real threat for the veteran rider but the Italian made do with seventh, having started 16th. Marcel Schrotter, Iker Lecuona and Nicolo Bulega completed the top ten.
Baldassarri’s misfortune reduced his advantage in the championship standings, the Italian now only seven points ahead of Luthi. Navarro is another four points behind and Marquez closed the gap to trail Baldassarri by only 14 points heading into the leader’s home race.
|2||9||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||+1.119|
|12||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||+19.817|
|15||62||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||+49.139|
|77||Dominique AEGERTER||MV Agusta||1 Lap|
|20||Dimas EKKY PRATAMA||Kalex||4 Laps|
|18||Xavi CARDELUS||KTM||5 Laps|
|87||Remy GARDNER||Kalex||12 Laps|
|4||Steven ODENDAAL||NTS||13 Laps|
|64||Bo BENDSNEYDER||NTS||13 Laps|
|24||Simone CORSI||Kalex||16 Laps|
|22||Sam LOWES||Kalex||17 Laps|
|35||Somkiat CHANTRA||Kalex||17 Laps|
|7||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI||Kalex||24 Laps|
|54||Mattia PASINI||Kalex||24 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|5||Andrea LOCATELLI||Kalex||0 Lap|