Hot asphalt and significant wind greeted the intermediate class to the start grid and the warm up session had already raised some questions about the fastest men on track, the championship leader crashing out while the former leader topped the timesheets. Those questions quickly got answered as Alex Marquez and Lorenzo Baldassarri entered the final two laps disputing the lead but it was Augusto Fernandez who crossed the finish line first. The young Spaniard sealed the deal on his first ever grand prix victory and the 150th in the intermediate class for Spain. Brad Binder was just as heroic in his ride to second, leading the pack for most of the race. Christmas came in 25 degrees for Luca Marini, who inherited the final podium spot.
Binder was keen to deliver early on, robbing the poleman at the start and taking Xavi Vierge with him. Remy Gardner was relegated to third and had to fend off the formidable brigade of Alex Marquez, Tom Luthi and Sam Lowes. Marquez’s charge was then aided by a mistake by Gardner, which dropped the Australian to seventh spot, but what he got with one hand was taken with the other, when Lowes and Luthi got past Marquez and challenged for the lead. Binder got his first real challenger on lap five, when Lowes briefly held the lead between turns 4 and 6 but the KTM rider was quickly back in front. Vierge was keeping close to the leaders, with the lead group also including Fernandez, Marquez, Gardner, Luthi, Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini and Lorenzo Baldassarri. The likes of Jorge Navarro and Marcel Schrotter already seemed to have lost hope, over two seconds behind the lead pack.
Lowes continued to harass Binder while Fernandez had his sights set on Vierge’s provisional podium spot. With no real title contenders ahead of him, Marquez looked like he was biding his time and watching the show unfolding ahead. Lowes waited too long to make a move stick and on lap nine, the British rider was picked up by the Spanish gang of Vierge, Fernandez and Marquez. Gardner was an honorary member too but the unlucky poleman seemed to hit a false neutral before crashing at turn 16. Lowes soon followed suit at turn 9 and Navarro at turn 18.
Back at the front, Fernandez was having a look at Binder’s lead while the Estrella Galicia machines were getting unexpected fire from Martin. Unknown to him, the Moto3 champ was under investigation for playing a part in Lowes’ incident but in the end that did not make much difference as Martin’s best race of the season ended in turn 3 with ten laps to go.
Marquez’s waiting game was perhaps a bit too long, the Spaniard dropping all the way down to 8th halfway through the race but then found the throttle for the final dozen laps, particularly motivated by Binder quickly finding one second’s gap at the front. Marquez climbed to second in a couple of laps and started reeling in Binder, with Baldassarri on his tail. Fernandez still looked threatening, despite an earlier mistake that took him out of race lead contention, with Vierge, Marini, Luthi and Bastianini still attending that particular party.
With seven laps left, the gap at the front vanished and it looked ominous for Binder, Marquez following the usual recipe and stalking Binder before pouncing for the win. The first attempt was made with six laps to go but Binder was not ready to give up the lead so the second try came one lap later. Marquez made it stick but his move had its thunder stolen by Vierge getting tagged by Fernandez and taking out Bastianini as a result. Luthi and Marini lost touch with the podium battle while taking avoiding action on the Vierge incident. Once Binder surrendered to Marquez, Baldassarri and Fernandez smelled weakness and took advantage with four laps to go.
The penultimate lap started with four riders but ended with only two, Baldassarri going down while attempting an overtake and wiping out the championship leader in turn three. That left Fernandez and Binder to dispute the lead but it wasn’t much of a battle, the Spaniard faster than the South African in the final part of the race. Marini found himself on the podium all of a sudden, after beating Luthi but the Swiss rider won’t mind too much as he takes the lead in the championship heading into Sachsenring.
With two of the main championship contenders not seeing the checkered flag, Luthi gets a six points advantage on Marquez, with Fernandez 25 points down and Navarro another three back.
|7||62||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||+13.183|
|9||77||Dominique AEGERTER||MV Agusta||+19.792|
|11||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||+23.591|
|73||Alex MARQUEZ||Kalex||2 Laps|
|7||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI||Kalex||2 Laps|
|97||Xavi VIERGE||Kalex||5 Laps|
|33||Enea BASTIANINI||Kalex||5 Laps|
|88||Jorge MARTIN||KTM||10 Laps|
|22||Sam LOWES||Kalex||14 Laps|
|9||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||14 Laps|
|87||Remy GARDNER||Kalex||15 Laps|
|11||Nicolo BULEGA||Kalex||22 Laps|
|24||Simone CORSI||Kalex||23 Laps|
|64||Bo BENDSNEYDER||NTS||23 Laps|