After a morning of cloudless skies, the track temperature was up to 34C by the time the Moto2 riders were set to start their Czech Grand Prix in Brno, the tenth race of the season, which Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) dominated for his fifth win of the season.
Starting from pole, Marquez made a good launch, but it was not good enough to beat Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) to the holeshot. It did not take long for Marquez to reclaim the advantage, though, as he moved through for the lead at turn three.
Over the course of the next few laps, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) established himself as Marquez’ closest challenger and, for most of the race, the Italian was the only rider who could get near the #73’s lap times. There were two seconds between Di Giannantonio and Marquez, but together they escaped from the pack, and ensured their cold war was not interfered with for the entire race.
The battle for the final podium spot was more visual, as Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) fought with the two SKY Racing Team VR46 bikes of Luca Marini and Nicolo Bulega, before Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) showed up on the scene as well.
Marini was eventually able to pass Schrotter with eleven laps to go, and then was able to extend a small gap. Unfortunately for the Italian, Jorge Navarro was not too delayed in passing Schrotter himself, and after doing so immediately applied the pressure to Marini.
It took a couple of laps, but Navarro was finally able to move through on Marini to take third place on lap thirteen. The Spaniard was able to stretch Marini and establish an advantage for himself, although the pressure would finally be coming from somewhere else.
Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) had been moving through the field throughout the race and was able to pass Marini with three laps to go. The gap to Navarro was up to almost one second by this point, so the task ahead of the #33 was tough, and he entered the final lap with a half-second deficit to Navarro. It was a gap which Bastianini was able to overturn by turn six, and the Italian made his move on Navarro at turn ten – just about able to pull the bike down to a late apex. From there, Bastianini was able to make an advantage for himself through turns eleven and twelve, so Navarro was unable to respond before the finish line.
Out front, though, despite the best efforts of Di Giannantonio, Marquez was untouchable once again, taking his fifth win of the season. Since Le Mans, when he has finished, no one has beaten Marquez, as his understanding of the Jerez-spec Dunlop tyre has been superior to his competitors. A crash early on for Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) means that Marquez leaves Brno with a thirty-three-point advantage at the top of the standings.
The debut Moto2 podiums for rookies Di Giannantonio and Bastianini were richly deserved. They had opposite races, with Di Giannantonio chasing lap times in his cold war with Marquez, whilst Bastianini was chasing a new target almost every lap in his fight back through the pack from the sixth row. Di Giannantonio in this race has been the only rider who has been able to match Marquez’ race pace for the whole distance since the Spaniard’s first win in France, whilst Bastianini in Brno has been the only Kalex rider to manage the tyre as well as Marquez since the same point – an impressive outing for the young Italians.
Bastianini’s last lap move relegated Navarro to fourth place, which will be a disappointment with his teammate on the rostrum. Behind Navarro, Marini completed the top five, no doubt helped this weekend by three weeks off for his shoulder to repair after a tough Sachsenring. Marcel Schrotter dropped back in the final part of the race and finished sixth ahead of liberated rookie Nicolo Bulega; whilst Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) finished eighth in front of Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) who went from seventeenth to ninth. Iker Lecuona (American Racing) was the top KTM in tenth.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) was unable to capitalise on his front row start, finishing down in eleventh ahead of the two KTM rookies, Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) was fourteenth, whilst Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) took the final point on his first visit to Brno.
Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) was down in sixteenth, ahead of Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP), Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), Jonas Folger (Petronas Sprinta Racing) in late on for Khairul Idham Pawi who was unfit after Friday, and Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) who completed the top twenty.
Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) was twenty-first ahead of Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP), Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who remounted after a crash on the first lap, and Xavi Cardelus (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) who was the final classified rider in twenty-fifth.
Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) and Tom Luthi were the first to retire on lap three, before Mattia Pasini crashed out of his first ride for Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 on the same lap as Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) dropped out. The final retirement was Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), five laps from the flag – not the way KTM would have hoped the first race for their new chassis would end.
Featured Image courtesy of MarcVDS