The Brno circuit was being its sunny best, albeit a bit slippery and bumpy, by the time the intermediate class took its turn in the limelight and it provided a lovely setting for Alex Marquez to go solo sightseeing. The Spaniard was the dominating force over 19 laps and casually took his fifth win of the season and Marc VDS’ 100 world championship podium. The podium felt extra special for everyone involved, celebrating maiden podiums in the intermediate class for rookies Fabio Di Giannantonio and Enea Bastiniani. The Speed Up rider made quick work of the rest of the pretenders and rode a solid but solitary race to second, while Bastianini provided a lot of the entertainment for the final part of the race, fighting from 18th on the grid to third on the podium.
The only rear wheel that Marquez saw in Brno was that of Sam Lowes, his fellow front row starter threatening him into turn one, but the Spaniard had something to say about that in turn three and normal service was resumed. Marquez was already trying to stretch a gap at the front – nearly eighth tenths of a second ahead of the pack by the end of lap one. The least eager to let the poleman disappear seemed to be Di Giannantonio, who fought his way into second by lap two and was leading the chase ahead of Lowes, Marcel Schrotter and Lorenzo Baldassarri. There were plenty of other riders still in contention at this early stage but the most noteworthy of them was Bastianini, who started 18th but was safely into the top ten within three laps.
By lap four, it already looked like Di Giannantonio would be the only one able to keep up with Marquez, the Italian pushing hard to get close to the Spaniard but the gap wasn’t dropping fast. However, the rest of the contenders were already two and a half seconds back on the leaders. Things seemed to be going even more Marquez’s way as his main championship rival crashed out at turn five on lap four, Tom Luthi running in a lowly position outside of the top ten at that point anyway.
While the gap between Marquez and Di Giannantonio was yoyo-ing between six tenths and one second up front, the final podium spot was being eyed by Schrotter, Luca Marini and Nicolo Bulega, with Jorge Navarro attempting to bridge the one second gap to that battle. Schrotter was doing a good job at hold back the Italians but Navarro was approaching at an alarming rate.
At the halfway point of the race, Marquez had almost two seconds in his pocket on his rookie pursuer, while Marini took a provisional podium from Schrotter, the German under assault from Navarro soon after. The Spaniard made it stick with eight laps remaining and set off for Marini next. The mission was very much possible one lap later, when Navarro found the inside of Marini at turn four. With over four seconds to the rest of the podium men, Navarro settled for stretching a gap to Marini and looked in a pretty safe place. Schrotter was in no position to have a say in that, as the Dynavolt rider was busy getting harassed by Bastianini in the battle for fifth. Meanwhile, front row starter Baldassarri was looking lacklustre in defence of the final top ten position.
With limited dry practice, riders were entering unknown territory for the final five laps and gaps seemed to settle throughout the field. The only man who was keen on setting personal best lap times was Bastianini, the rookie victorious over Schrotter with three laps to go and then on Marini one lap later – the podium not such a distant prospect either. The Beast entered the final lap half a second off Navarro but reduced it to three tenths by sector two, two tenths by sector three and one tenth ahead of the Spaniard after Schwantz corner.
With Marquez and Di Giannantonio having already safely crossed the finish line, Bastianini kept Navarro at bay to the checkered flag. Navarro was forced to admit defeat and finish fourth, with Marini fifth and Schrotter, Bulega, Augusto Fernandez, Tetsuta Nagashima and Iker Lecuona rounding out the top ten, pushing Baldassarri out of that particular line-up.
With Marquez showing the kind of dominance that puts even his brother to shame and with Luthi’s terrible afternoon in the Czech Republic, the Spaniard extends his championship advantage to 33 points. Fernandez and Navarro are tied on points in third and fourth positions, 51 points behind the leader.
|2||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||+3.018|
|4||9||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||+4.290|
|20||62||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||+35.664|
|21||77||Dominique AEGERTER||MV Agusta||+35.865|
|41||Brad BINDER||KTM||7 Laps|
|22||Sam LOWES||Kalex||11 Laps|
|54||Mattia PASINI||Kalex||11 Laps|
|12||Thomas LUTHI||Kalex||16 Laps|
|3||Lukas TULOVIC||KTM||16 Laps|