Even the sun decided to make an appearance to enjoy KTM’s home win in the intermediate class, Brad Binder gifting himself a first victory of the season for his 24th birthday celebration. The South African led the race since turn one of lap one but he did not have it easy, with multiple challengers showing the speed to put up a fight before falling by the wayside. The only challenger left standing after an eventful race in the lead pack was championship leader Alex Marquez. The Spaniard made an excellent recovery from 11th spot on the grid and avoided any major mistakes and incidents to cross the line safely in second. Not unusually, Jorge Navarro was pretty anonymous for the first part of the race but got faster and faster as the lap count went up, finding his way onto the final space on the podium.
Binder had snatched the lead at turn one from poleman Tetsuta Nagashima, with Xavi Vierge, Enea Bastianini and Tom Luthi straight into the mix too. Meanwhile, front row starter Somkiat Chantra was losing ground and had fallen to the bottom of the top ten by lap three. While Binder, Vierge and Nagashima were attempting an early escape, Marquez was slowly starting his comeback and was inching his way forward from 11th. His mission was inadvertently aided by his teammate on lap four, when Vierge tagged the back of Nagashima at turn four and took both of them out of podium contention. This left Binder as the sole leader, one second ahead of a sizeable group led by Bastianini and including Remy Gardner, Luthi, Luca Marini, Marquez, Lorenzo Baldassarri and Chantra.
By lap seven, Bastianini was bringing the gap to the leader down but his colleagues decided to start playing and Gardner picked up the task of leading the pursuit soon after. The Australian wasn’t quite making a fast impression on Binder’s gap but meanwhile, Marquez was attacking his championship rival Luthi for fourth place and set sights on Bastianini by lap 11.
Gardner cut the gap to Binder down to half a second with 14 laps still left to do and then tagged the tail of the Red Bull KTM machine at the start of the following lap. However, the two-man battle soon grew into a four-man battle when Bastianini and Marquez joined the group for the final 11 laps. Baldassarri was leading a rowdy second group, one second down the road, including Marini, Navarro, Fernandez and a fading Luthi.
Despite the tight lead group, Gardner did not really have a go at the lead until the final seven laps and Binder was not making it easy for him. The Australian’s day soon turned sour when he made a mistake at turn one, tangled with Marquez when he tried to rejoin the race line and ended up as the losing party. Marquez could not really enjoy the inherited third place because Marini was running a hot pace. Unfortunately, maybe a touch too hot, the Italian losing control in turn nine and taking Bastianini with him into the gravel trap.
The Italians’ misfortune was Binder and Marquez’s luck, the duo left to dispute victory between them for the final three laps. After Marquez got a front row seat for all the incidents in the lead group, he was in no rush to attack, keeping at a safe distance from Binder and settling for second at the checkered flag. One second back, Navarro and Baldassarri were deciding the final podium spot between them and it was the Spaniard who grabbed it. Augusto Fernandez finished fifth, behind teammate Baldassarri and ahead of Luthi, with Jorge Martin, Iker Lecuona, Marcel Schrotter and Mattia Pasini completing the top ten.
The fantastic turnaround for Marquez extends his advantage in the championship to 43 points, Luthi’s second position getting threatened by Navarro, the Spaniard just 12 points back.
|3||9||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||+1.839|
|14||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||+13.886|
|16||62||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||+20.714|
|17||77||Dominique AEGERTER||MV Agusta||+25.000|
|33||Enea BASTIANINI||Kalex||5 Laps|
|10||Luca MARINI||Kalex||5 Laps|
|87||Remy GARDNER||Kalex||6 Laps|
|45||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA||Kalex||18 Laps|
|97||Xavi VIERGE||Kalex||22 Laps|