After the tension and emotion of the Moto3 race, the intermediate class had the bar set quite high but there was plenty to work with, from a rookie first time poleman to a championship leader seeking to make amends for his mistake last time around. Neither of them managed to put their hands on the big trophy, which went to Augusto Fernandez after a somewhat controversial last lap move. The Spaniard secured back to back wins to become an even bigger threat in the championship. Di Giannantonio took a dignified second place after riding a fantastic race, almost entirely at the front of it, while Alex Marquez limited the damage in the championship by taking the final spot on the podium.
Di Giannantonio started the race at the front of the grid and stayed there into turn one, with Fernandez following him closely but a poor getaway from Marquez dropped him in the midst of the action in sixth. The championship leader soon started to make progress but now had the extra challenge of Tom Luthi and Remy Gardner to overcome. The poleman was pushing hard to keep in charge of proceedings and it showed with a few slides here and there, while Marquez swiftly found his way past both Luthi and Gardner by the end of lap two. With early hairy moments for both Di Giannantonio and Gardner, it was a clear warning that levels of grip were still a challenge.
The top four men continued to post nearly identical times for the next few laps, Di Giannantonio leading the way from Fernandez, Marquez and Luthi, with Gardner and Xavi Vierge just a touch slower and falling back towards a dangerous group including Sam Lowes, Enea Bastianini and Jorge Navarro. Despite the minor gaps amongst the top four breakaway, there’s a reason they’re not Moto3 riders anymore, biding their time for attacks until the gap to the chasers was well over three seconds.
The first attack on Di Giannantonio came at the start on lap nine but Fernandez could not make it stick and this allowed Marquez to retrieve second position. Fernandez was eager to retaliate on his compatriot’s daring attack but there was no way through just yet. Luthi missed out on the fun and looked like his podium challenge was fading by lap 11 with a mistake in turn 14. However, the Swiss rider had a pretty comfortable gap to the chasers, where Navarro was still fighting against Vierge and Lowes but the group had lost Gardner to the charms of a gravel trap.
Fernandez finally got past Marquez with his favourite move into turn two as the race was entering its second half and started clawing back some of the eight tenths advantage Di Giannantonio had stretched. The Spaniard caught up to the Italian within a couple of laps and it looked like Marquez and Luthi were left to settle the final podium position.
Fernandez was in no hurry to take the lead and carefully studied Di Giannantonio for several laps. The Italian got a track limits warning in the final five laps but the Spaniard looked like it wasn’t all roses for him either, with a big save at turn 10. It all came down to the final lap, when Fernandez was tempted by his trademark move into turn two but went wide and allowed the Italian back past. Di Giannantonio started making some mistakes of his own and although he ran a good defensive line, Fernandez pulled off a block pass with a pinch of contact at turn 14.
Fernandez crossed the finish line two tenths ahead of Di Giannatonio but with the winning overtake under investigation for both its aggression and the fact he lined up the move by going beyond track limits. Fernandez climbed on the top spot of the podium, kissed the trophy and popped the champagne but with the prospect of a meeting with the stewards in mind. Marquez came home in a safe third, with Luthi crossing the line one second later in fourth. Lowes was best of the chasing pack in fifth, ahead of Brad Binder and Navarro. Vierge, Bastianini and Lorenzo Baldassarri completed the top ten.
Fernandez’s excellent form sees him snatch some points back from Marquez in the championship, the Marc VDS rider 26 points ahead after a track that’s not on his Christmas list. Luthi is third, 38 points behind the leader and with Navarro four points back. Unless the stewards still have something to say about it (They didn't, twice.)
|2||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||+0.186|
|7||9||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||+9.928|
|15||62||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||+30.791|
|18||77||Dominique AEGERTER||MV Agusta||+32.324|
|24||36||Andi Farid IZDIHAR||Kalex||+1'03.822|
|45||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA||Kalex||12 Laps|
|87||Remy GARDNER||Kalex||15 Laps|
|11||Nicolo BULEGA||Kalex||15 Laps|
|72||Marco BEZZECCHI||KTM||19 Laps|
|47||Adam NORRODIN||Kalex||20 Laps|