It must have been unimaginably difficult for the intermediate class to line up on the grid just as news broke of the desperately sad passing of Jason Dupasquier, but line up they did and put on an honourable show in Mugello. The podium was bright orange once again, this time with Remy Gardner picking up the win after a race-long chase of teammate Raul Fernandez, the rookie only giving up victory on the final lap and by the smallest of margins. Marco Bezzecchi did not feature in the victory battle but got to show off his beautiful home race livery in parc fermé after inheriting third place.
Raul Fernandez had made an excellent start from pole position and Gardner also got a great launch from second row to trail his teammate into turn 1. Tony Arbolino kept close after a good start of his own, followed by Jorge Navarro, Sam Lowes, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi. The Red Bull KTM Ajo tag team quickly started to edge ahead of Arbolino so Lowes had to take it upon himself to get past the Italian and reel in the leaders. While Lowes reduced the gap to Gardner to under half a second, Fernandez was attempting an early escape from his teammate, keeping another half a second ahead. Behind the socially-distanced leading trio, Arbolino struggled to keep the early pace going and soon dropped behind compatriots Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi. The rookie was left with a safe net of one second to the next man down the road, Joe Roberts, but the American was steadily closing in on the top five, also aided by some early crashes from Jorge Navarro and Xavi Vierge amongst the chasing group.
Raul Fernandez started lap 8 with an eight tenth advantage to Gardner, with the Australian soon to come under fire from Lowes. The animated battle started on lap 10 and the exchanges ended with Lowes provisionally picking up the chase but the real winner was Fernandez, who extended his gap to two seconds. It also very slightly helped Di Giannantonio, who had dropped almost a second and a half back on the podium battle, leaving Bezzecchi over two seconds behind. Arbolino also struggled to keep up the pace and dropped within striking distance of Roberts, the American demoting the Italian for sixth position on lap 10. Arbolino continued to fade and soon allowed teammate Marcel Schrotter to gap him as well.
Back at the front, Lowes was steadily reducing the gap to the leader to start the final half of the race only one second back on Fernandez. Gardner kept close to the British rider as he bridged the gap but Di Giannantonio couldn’t keep the home hero dream going, crashing out of fourth place at the final corner with 10 laps remaining. With Bezzecchi and Roberts engaged in battle over six seconds back, the podium configuration seemed pretty much set but the order was yet to be decided, as the leading trio drew ever closer.
Once the gap at the front dropped to eight tenths of a second, it seemed to settle there for a couple of laps but Lowes buckled under the pressure first, crashing out at Arrabbiata 1 with 6 laps remaining. That left Gardner one second behind his teammate and he did a solid job to pick up the chase, almost glued to the back of the sister machine only three laps later. Eight seconds behind the victory battle, Roberts found himself in podium positions, but Bezzecchi was tempted by a home podium and started exchanging places with the American. It seemed like a fun battle on the timing screens but we’ve not seen much of it as all eyes were on the inseparable leading duo.
Gardner bided his time and the first and only overtake attempt came on the final lap, the Australian’s superior speed out of Arrabbiata 2 allowing him to line up a decisive move into turn 10. Gardner defended beautifully to the finish line but took the checkered flag only one hundredth of a second ahead of Fernandez. Roberts crossed the line third but got demoted one position due to slightly exceeding track limits on the final lap and Bezzecchi inherited the final podium spot. Schrotter joined the top 5 ahead of rookies Ai Ogura, Arbolino and Cameron Beaubier, with Hafizh Syahrin and Stefano Manzi rounding out the top 10 places. A notable and pretty remarkable mention goes to Fermìn Aldeguer, who grabbed a few points in his first Moto3 race with 12th position.
Gardner’s victory extended his lead in the championship to a still minimal six points from teammate Fernandez, while Bezzecchi is 26 points behind and Lowes loses more ground, trailing the leader by 48 points.
|19||10||Tommaso Marcon||MV Agusta||+1'16.213|
|42||Marcos Ramirez||Kalex||3 Laps|
|22||Sam Lowes||Kalex||6 Laps|
|21||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Kalex||10 Laps|
|24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||10 Laps|
|75||Albert Arenas||Boscoscuro||10 Laps|
|97||Xavi Vierge||Kalex||16 Laps|
|9||Jorge Navarro||Boscoscuro||17 Laps|
|7||Lorenzo Baldassarri||MV Agusta||19 Laps|
|Not Finished 1st Lap|
|19||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Kalex||0 Lap|
|37||Augusto Fernandez||Kalex||0 Lap|