The sixth round of the 2019 Moto2 World Championship took place in Mugello, for the Italian Grand Prix, and saw Alex Marquez (EG 0,0) claim his second successive victory, and second of the season.
It was Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) who made the best start, leading from teammate Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) on the opening lap. Their gap over the rest of the field was increased thanks to a quite audacious move by Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) on Alex Marquez in the Sevelli corner. Marquez held his position but the gap to the Dynavolt duo was already quite large.
Marquez had shown strong pace over the course of the weekend – the strongest, in fact – and he needed that pace to overhaul the advantage of the two leaders. When he arrived he had brought Marini with him, but the Spaniard was able to pass both Dynavolt bikes in quick succession and make a break in the lead before Marini could do the same.
In fact, it seemed like Marini had accepted that it was not going to be possible for him to catch Marquez even if he passed Luthi quickly, so the Italian observed the Swiss rider, before finally making his move on lap thirteen.
With championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) not far behind, it seemed that Luthi would struggle to make the podium, but once Marini passed him the #12 was able to rally, and he picked his pace back up to stick with the Italian.
In the final laps Baldassarri’s pace, after charging through the pack from down in fifteenth on the grid, started to slow and that ensured a podium position for Luthi, although he could do nothing about Marini in front.
No one, though, could begin to think about doing anything about Alex Marquez, who was completely dominant in winning his second race of 2019. Two wins in a row have brought him right into title contention, as the 2014 Moto3 World Champion heads to him home round at Montmelo just two points behind the championship leader, Baldassarri.
Luca Marini’s second place was the result of a complete turnaround in form from the previous European races. The start to the season had not gone to plan for Marini, especially the Spanish and French rounds which preceded Mugello, but after a positive test in Barcelona after the French Grand Prix , the Italian was able to be strong throughout his home Grand Prix weekend, and he will hope for this to continue as the series heads towards the halfway point.
Third place was an important result for Tom Luthi, who was previously without a podium since his win in Austin at round three. With Baldassarri’s poor weekend, it was always going to be important for the Swiss to make in-roads into the Italian’s championship advantage in Italy, and he did just that.
The strong comeback from Baldassarri, though, limited the damage he took.
Coming from fifteenth the Italian finished fourth, his first finish of the season off the top step. With the momentum swinging the way of Alex Marquez in recent races, the Catalan Grand Prix could prove a pivotal one in the course of this championship, and it will be important for Baldassarri to respond.
Just a couple of tenths behind Baldassarri was his teammate, Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40), who swapped places with Tom Luthi in that he missed the podium for the first time since the championship arrived in Europe as he finished fifth, owing to a bad start.
Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) was the top rookie in sixth place, having battled in the final laps with Fernandez for the top five, losing out by only 0.012 seconds. It seems that this season continues to improve for Bastiaini.
One second back from Bastianini was Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) who missed the podium for the first time since COTA as he finished seventh, ahead of Schrotter, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) who recovered from contact with Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) on lap one to score his first Moto2 top ten.
Mattia Pasini, once again replacing Khairul Idham Pawi at Petronas SRT, finished a disappointing eleventh, ahead of Vierge and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) who is still yet to show the form he displayed in the fly away races in Europe. Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completed the points, Binder being the top KTM rider in a lowly fifteenth.
Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took sixteenth place, ahead of Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward), Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team), Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) and Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) who completed the points. Twenty-first went to Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech3), ahead of Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP), Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Dimas Ekky (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) and Xavi Cardelus (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) who was the final finisher in twenty-fifth.
The contact between Xavi Vierge and Fabio Di Giannantonio on lap one at Poggio Seccho caused Diggia to collide with Iker Lecuona (American Racing). The Spaniard fell and his race was over before the first lap. Somkiat Chantra’s replacement at IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia, Teppei Nagoe, was the next to go on lap four, before Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) both crashed with fourteen laps to go. Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) was the next to go a lap later, before Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) fell eleven laps from the flag. Joe Roberts (American Racing) was the final retirement on lap sixteen.
Featured Image courtesy of David Goldman/Marc VDS.