Hot asphalt awaited the intermediate class ahead of their race and the bar was set pretty high after the MotoGP thriller before them. In a familiar flashback, it was the two KTM-branded machines who hogged the limelight throughout the 22-lap race and Remy Gardner was once again the victor, crossing the finish line almost two seconds ahead to secure his third victory in the class. Rookie teammate Raul Fernandez settled for the second place trophy and a third successive podium, with Xavi Vierge stepping onto the final step of the podium after a long wait.
Gardner made a quick start from pole position to lead the way from front row starters Fernandez and Bo Bendsneyder, while Vierge climbed into fourth, ahead of Augusto Fernandez. Marco Bezzecchi also made a fast start to go from 10th on the grid to 6th after a couple corners, while rival Sam Lowes went the other way, 8th on the grid to 12th early on.
While Raul Fernandez and Bendsneyder were trading places behind him, Gardner extended a half second gap at the front by lap 2. Fernandez soon claimed the right to reel in his teammate, keeping Bendsneyder at arm’s length, with Vierge, Bezzecchi, Augusto Fernandez and Aron Canet also holding onto the chasing group. Rookie Ai Ogura had dropped a second back by lap 3 and the likes of Fabio Di Giannantonio and Lowes wouldn’t have been too happy to get stuck in that group rather than the victory battle.
By lap 4, the victory already looked like a Red Bull KTM Ajo affair, as Fernandez caught up with his teammate and left the chasing group half a second back and led by Bendsneyder. The pursuers seemed to reduce in numbers over the next few laps, only Vierge and Bezzecchi keeping calm and following the Dutchman, while the exchanges between Canet and Augusto Fernandez dropped them one second back. Ai Ogura was getting ready to cause them some headaches but Canet never got to suffer that as he crashed out at turn 5 of lap 7 and left Fernandez to resist the rookie on his own. Another second back, Lowes found some rhythm and was bringing Di Giannantonio with him.
Back at the front, the KTMs were untroubled and Raul Fernandez slid past his teammate going into turn 1 to pick up the lead with 11 laps to go. Bendsneyder, Vierge and Bezzecchi were biding their time in the battle for third, one second behind the leaders and the exchanges only started with 7 laps remaining, when Vierge found turn 1 ahead of Bendsneyder. Bezzecchi followed his example one lap later and the Dutch rider dropped to 5th.
Fernandez continued to lead with outstanding consistency but got a track limits warning with 4 laps remaining and was not dropping his teammate, the gap rarely going over one tenth of a second. Gardner made a last-second decision to make his decisive move at turn 1 with 3 laps remaining and immediately opened a gap, starting the final lap over a second ahead of his rookie teammate. Fernandez had to admit defeat once more and crossed the finish line in a safe second, while Vierge secured his first podium of the season another second later. Bezzecchi missed out on the podium by three tenths of a second, while Augusto Fernandez finally finished a race and overtook Bendsneyder for a solid fifth in the closing stages. Lowes inherited seventh place after Ogura made a rookie mistake at turn 4 with 3 laps remaining, while Marcel Schrotter, Somkiat Chantra and Joe Roberts joined the top 10, helped by a late clash between Fabio Di Giannantonio and Hector Garzo.
Gardner’s win in fine style extends his lead in the championship over his teammate to 11 points, with Bezzecchi 38 points down and Lowes a pretty significant 64.
|16||24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||+25.099|
|23||7||Lorenzo Baldassarri||MV Agusta||+40.784|
|40||Hector Garzo||Kalex||2 Laps|
|21||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Kalex||2 Laps|
|79||Ai Ogura||Kalex||3 Laps|
|19||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Kalex||4 Laps|
|42||Marcos Ramirez||Kalex||15 Laps|
|44||Aron Canet||Boscoscuro||16 Laps|