Moto2: Can Baldassarri Respond to Marquez Pressure in Barcelona?

The Moto2 World Championship heads to Barcelona this weekend for the seventh round of the 2019 series, two weeks on from an Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) win in Italy.

Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS boys Alex and Xavi Vierge at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Image courtesy of Marc VDS

That win for Marquez last time out confirmed him as a championship contender. Coming off the back of his first win since Motegi 2017 two weeks earlier in Le Mans, Marquez was unstoppable in Mugello, where he completely dominated the race and won by nearly two seconds. Montmelo is something of a home round for Marquez, and he has a good history there, winning in 2014 by a comfortable margin in the Moto3 class on his way to the title, and standing on the top step again three years later in the Moto2 class. A third win in three races this weekend would certainly start the alarm bells in the ears of the other Moto2 championship hopefuls.

One such championship hopeful is Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40). The Italian had a complicated home race, finishing fifteenth in qualifying ahead of the race. From that fifteenth grid slot, Baldassarri fought through, and finished fourth, which was a damage limitation job which was sufficient for him to maintain his championship lead. However, if Baldassarri wants to maintain that points advantage this weekend he needs to take the fight to Marquez on track, since the Spaniard seems to be the #7’s main threat for the title.

It would be unjust to discount Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) at this stage, though. Aside from Marquez and Baldassarri, Luthi is the only rider to have won a race this year, his coming in Texas. Additionally, the Swiss has the same number of podiums as both Marquez and Baldassarri and sits just four points behind the championship lead. However, Luthi has never won in Montmelo, and has only four podiums at the Catalan GP.

Tom Luthi at Barcelona-Catalunya. Image courtesy of KF GLAENZEL /Dynavolt Intact GP

Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) had a strong race in Mugello, and was fast all weekend, finishing second in the end ahead of Luthi. It was a strong turnaround from the Italian after a dismal pair of races in Spain and France, and a subpar opening to the season for the winner of last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix. It will be interesting to see if Marini can continue that performance into this weekend in Barcelona.

Jorge Navarro (Speed Up) finished off the podium for the first time since Argentina in Mugello, where he came home seventh. Speed Up won in Barcelona last year with Fabio Quartararo, so Navarro, who won in Montmelo in 2016 in the Moto3 category, will be hoping to bring the Italian chassis back to the top step twelve months later.

Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Rcing Team) returns this weekend to the circuit which often brings a step up in his performance. In 2014, Barcelona was the site of his first GP podium, where he won the Catalan GP last year in the lightweight class. Additionally, La Bestia took to the podium in 2015 and 2016, and will hope to have a similar performance this weekend, after his strong weekend at home in Mugello, where he finished sixth behind Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) who, himself, will be after a strong result in his second home round of the season, after finishing third in the Spanish Grand Prix just over one month ago.

Jonas Folger is back in action this weekend. The former Grand Prix winner is replacing Mattia Pasini, who was replacing Khairul Idham Pawi at the Petronas SRT team. Pasini broke his collarbone in training, so Folger is in at Petronas and will be keen to make an impression in his first GP since Aragon 2017 in the MotoGP class this weekend in Barcelona.

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