Fog had dispersed and grandstands had become pretty crowded by the time the intermediate class lined up for battle and it had its fair share of drama. Despite starting his weekend on home soil on the backfoot due to recent surgery on his right hand, Raul Fernandez put the pain behind him – much like he did his rookie status – and dominated proceedings for almost the entire race to secure a fifth win of the season, echoing Marc Marquez’s exploits of 2011. Remy Gardner didn’t have an easy race either but limited damage in the championship with second place, while Augusto Fernandez joined the podium after a great ride from 12th on the grid.
Poleman Sam Lowes featured heavily at the start of the action, keeping the lead into turn 1 from the Ajo boys, with the second and third row men keeping close, only Marco Bezzecchi losing a bit of ground down to 12th, ahead of Augusto Fernandez. While Lowes pushed hard at the front to extend a half second gap on the first lap, Raul Fernandez attacked his teammate to lead the pursuit, putting a bit of a gap into the rest of the pack. The Red Bull KTMs were quick to reel in Lowes, with only Ai Ogura and Hector Garzo seemingly able to keep up with the leaders’ pace, leaving Albert Arenas, Jorge Navarro & Co almost one second down by lap 3. That group included the likes of Aron Canet, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi, while Augusto Fernandez struggled to break into the top 10 just yet, four seconds off the lead.
Meanwhile, teammate Lowes had to concede the lead to Raul Fernandez at the start of lap 4, the wounded rookie not afraid to push straight away and extend half a second of advantage at the front. His teammate enjoyed some screentime too, but for running wide at turn 12, losing almost two seconds to the two leaders and coming under fire from Ogura and Garzo. The latter threw it all away at turn 8 on lap 5, but Gardner was not left without challengers, joined in the battle for third by a group including Navarro, Canet, Bezzecchi, Arenas and Di Giannantonio. Augusto Fernandez had also joined the top 10 another second back, promoted to 9th after Arenas crashed out on lap 6, in a busy first few laps for the various gravel traps at MotorLand.
Back at the front, Raul Fernandez’s advantage increased to one full second by lap seven, Lowes in turn enjoying a 2.5-second gap to the strong group behind, led by Gardner. The battle wasn’t too hot though, as some gaps started to appear in the group over the next few laps, only Navarro and Canet in close proximity to Gardner and with Bezzecchi trying to bridge a 7-tenth gap. About a second down the road, Augusto Fernandez was catching up with Ogura and Di Giannantonio to make it a battle for 7th position. Soon after the Spaniard claimed that place, it became a battle for 6th, after Bezzecchi crashed out at busy turn 8, a painful blow for his championship bid.
With limited running throughout practice, it was hard to tell how long Raul Fernandez would be able to keep up the pace while managing pain from his very recent injury, but the rookie maintained his gap at around 1.2 seconds towards the halfway point of the race. Both Lowes and Gardner had a bit of breathing space behind the leader, while Canet and Navarro were battling for fourth and were soon to be joined by Augusto Fernandez.
The hierarchy seemed pretty settled at the top end with 9 laps remaining, until Lowes decided to switch things up, unfortunately with a tumble at turn 7, leaving Raul Fernandez with a 6-second advantage over his teammate, who won’t have minded a few extra points to his championship tally. It also meant that Navarro, Fernandez and Canet were now battling to decide the final podium position, the Speed Up rider with the advantage going into the final handful of laps. Despite frequent exchanges between them, Navarro and Fernandez disposed of Canet for the last few laps and battled it all the way to the finish line.
While his namesake was preparing to take the chequered flag over 8 seconds ahead of Gardner – but losing a couple of those on the final lap – Augusto Fernandez had to work hard to defend 3rd over the final 3 laps. The Marc VDS rider was even closing in on Gardner and could’ve used a few more laps but managed to keep a hard charging Navarro behind to secure the final podium position. Navarro missed out by two tenths of a second, Canet finishing a lonely 5th, with Di Giannantonio also in a solo but solid 6th place. Newbie Fermín Aldeguer made some late progress to take a fantastic 7th place after battling Ogura, Arbolino and Schrotter over the final few laps. The German eventually missed out on the top 10 because of a 3 second penalty for exceeding track limits, promoting Simone Corsi.
Another solid weekend for the Red Bull KTM Ajo boys secured them the team championship, with Remy Gardner limiting the damage in the riders' championship to a 39-point gap to his victorious teammate. Bezzecchi’s costly mistake leaves him 72 points behind the leader and pretty much out of title contention.
|6||21||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Kalex||+15.160|
|10||24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||+20.121|
|17||81||Manuel Gonzalez||MV Agusta||+34.977|
|35||Somkiat Chantra||Kalex||4 Laps|
|11||Nicolò Bulega||Kalex||5 Laps|
|22||Sam Lowes||Kalex||8 Laps|
|64||Bo Bendsneyder||Kalex||9 Laps|
|72||Marco Bezzecchi||Kalex||9 Laps|
|19||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Kalex||14 Laps|
|75||Albert Arenas||Boscoscuro||16 Laps|
|40||Hector Garzo||Kalex||17 Laps|
|97||Xavi Vierge||Kalex||18 Laps|
|12||Thomas Luthi||Kalex||18 Laps|
|74||Piotr Biesiekirski||Kalex||19 Laps|