Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing) took a stunning win at Misano World Circuit in his first appearance on the top step, after a game of cat-and-mouse with Paginas Amarillas HP 40 title contender Alex Rins kept Misano on their feet. After some chaotic early laps, Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) completed the podium for his third rostrum in a row at the venue, as championship leader Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) found himself knocked down to P4.
After a Moto3 race more tactical than the usual on-track dynamite, the baton was passed to Moto2 to switch things up a gear and the intermediate class did not disappoint. With fantastic Adriatic weather beaming down from the powder blue skies, Moto2 set up a thriller at Misano. Zarco and Nakagami got the best starts from the front row, before the Japanese rider took Turn 1 too hot and then pushed Garage Plus Interwetten rider Tom Luthi wide over the run off area. With the Swiss rider rejoining easily, Nakagami then had a moment and found himself down in P8 by the end of the first lap.
Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) had an aggressive first lap to tag onto the back of the leaders, with Luthi just ahead of him on track and Baldassari and Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) shadowing championship leader Zarco. After a lap full of drama, the reigning champion then found himself wrestled down to P5 – with title rival Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Racing Moto2) right behind him on track. Lowes got past the Frenchman as the Ajo rider’s tough start of the race continued, with Zarco then finding himself down in P6 with Friday’s fastest Nakagami glued to his rear wheel – and soon past him.
With Rins able to break clear and Baldassarri following on the chase, the podium battle behind got brutal as Lowes, Morbidelli and Nakagami battled it out ahead of Luthi and Zarco. Pushing just a bit too hard with 13 laps to go, Lowes then lost it and found himself sliding out of the race – and possibly the title fight.
Nakagami broke free to chase the leaders down, with Rins out at the front but the pace starting to waiver for the Moto2 title contender. With a healing collarbone after a training accident ahead of the British GP, the Spaniard pushed to retain his advantage – one that would have seen him lead the championship on the way to his home track MotorLand Aragon – and tried to hold on in a superhuman effort.
In front of the home fans however, a healthy Baldassari gradually reeled in the Paginas Amarillas HP 40 rider ahead of him. Rins’s defense was incredible as the Spaniard pushed to keep up the pace despite the injury, but on the penultimate lap the Italian pounced. Rins, who was left with the choice of play safe or fight back, still wouldn’t let him go and stuck to the Italian’s back wheel before trying a move on the final lap. With Baldassarri defensive and nearing the line for his impressive maiden win, Rins ran wide and settled for the P2 after his superhuman display.
Morbidelli crossed the line in P5, ahead of Silverstone winner Luthi. Petronas Raceline Malaysia rider Hafizh Syahrin had a solid ride to P7, just ahead of Intact Dynavolt GP duo Jonas Folger and Sandro Cortese. Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) gained some more confidence back with another solid finish to round out the top ten.
With Lowes down, Zarco off the podium and Rins taking home a haul of 20 points, the championship gap at the top is now 3 points between the Frenchman and the Spaniard. Next up? Rins’ home turf as MotorLand Aragon beckons its local hero home.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko