Dark clouds were confusingly gathering around as the intermediate class was lining up for their tussle but they caused no concern and they just turned up to witness yet another dominating performance from Alex Marquez. Despite a fairly difficult weekend with limited track time, the Spaniard broke the Moto2 pole jinx and grabbed his fourth big trophy in the last five races. Brad Binder put a fierce fight to achieve back to back podiums despite his lowly grid spot, while a jubilant Marcel Schrotter climbed on the final step of the podium at his home race.
Once upon a time in turn one, front row starter Luca Marini made a great start but it was the last the cameras saw of the Italian, who only enjoyed fresh air for one lap as Schrotter made a move in the final turn to lead his home race. The German could not really rejoice for long either, making a mistake halfway through the lap and allowing Iker Lecuona to take the limelight, after the Spaniard nudged poleman Marquez back to fifth. Marquez and Vierge were preparing their attack just behind the leaders, with Fabio Di Giannantonio, Jorge Martin and Binder tagging along for the ride – the South African in particular making an excellent start from 17th on the grid and promptly becoming the fastest man on track. After a disappointing performance on Saturday, Tom Luthi was making steady progress too, soon joining the chasing pack, while Jorge Navarro went backwards, outside the top 15 for the first couple of laps.
By lap five, Lecuona, Marquez, Marini and Vierge had stretched a seven tenth gap to the pursuers and once Binder got in charge of that group, he fought to bring down the gap in the next few laps. The KTM rider joined the leaders just as Marquez hit the front in turn one at the start of lap seven. The Spaniard immediately tried to build a gap and Lecuona was really pushing to keep up but Vierge dropped half a second and came under threat from Binder, Marini, Schrotter, Di Giannantonio and Luthi. Martin was losing touch with the chasing pack and was riding a fairly lonely race while waiting for the Flexbox duo of Lorenzo Baldassarri and Augusto Fernandez to reach him.
Marquez briefly lost the lead by running wide at the Omega curve on lap ten but recovered his favourite position at the bottom of the hill into turn 12. Binder became a threat soon after, disposing of Lecuona to chase the leader and forced Marquez into some red and orange sectors at the front. Schrotter, Vierge and Luthi were rubbing fairings close behind but the party was broken on lap 13, when a tap from Luthi in turn one pushed Vierge into the gravel and the Swiss rider lost touch with the leaders while under scrutiny from the stewards.
And then there were four. Marquez led the way into the second half of the race, while the old KTM of Lecuona was bravely fighting a losing battle to keep up with the leader and fend off the shiny fellow KTM of Binder. While the two were engaged in friendly fire, Marquez took off at the front, delivering the fastest lap of the race and starting the last ten laps over a second and a half in front. Schrotter was still keeping a close eye on the podium battle of the KTMs and debating the best time to attack. The time and place was turn one on lap 20, the German taking Lecuona and then Binder one lap later. Meanwhile, teammate Luthi was hit with a long lap penalty for the incident with Vierge but it only cost him one position to Di Giannantonio.
By the time Schrotter led the chase, Marquez was three seconds ahead and the KTMs refused to give up the fight for second. Binder was suddenly the fastest man on track and attacked for second with three laps to go, with his favourite move in turn one, Schrotter then getting harassed by Lecuona for the final podium position. Marquez eased up for the final couple of laps, allowing Binder to get within two seconds by the checkered flag, while Schrotter secured third after a heartbreaking last corner crash for Lecuona. Di Giannantonio inherited fourth to get his best result yet in the class, with Luthi crossing the line fifth and Assen victor Fernandez finishing ahead of teammate Baldassarri. Navarro climbed to eighth, ahead of Martin and a painkiller-infused Marini completing the top ten.
Luthi saved what he could from a tough weekend but Marquez’s win hands him back the championship lead by eight points heading into the summer break. The closely matched Flexbox HP40 duo are third and fourth, Fernandez five points ahead of Baldassarri but both over 30 points down on the leader.
|4||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||+4.116|
|8||9||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||+8.177|
|20||77||Dominique AEGERTER||MV Agusta||+30.791|
|22||62||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||+37.502|
|27||Iker LECUONA||KTM||1 Lap|
|97||Xavi VIERGE||Kalex||16 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|96||Jake DIXON||KTM||0 Lap|