The fourteenth round of the 2019 Moto2 World Championship took place at MotorLand Aragon, as Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took his second victory of the season.
The race took place after the MotoGP race, meaning the track was coated with MotoGP’s Michelin rubber in the early phases of the Moto2 race before the intermediate class re-painted the lines with their Dunlop tyres. Often, this condition can create increased grip in the early stages of the Moto2 running, and it was Binder who made the most of this.
The South African made the holeshot, scampered off out front by over one second and didn’t look back.
Behind the 2016 Moto3 World Champion, the battle was strong, with Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46), championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) all fighting over second place in the early stages, before Jorge Navarro (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) arrived in the final part of the race.
The race for Alex Marquez was changed from the middle of the first lap, when Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) crashed. Fernandez had been strong all weekend and over the last few weekends had proven himself to be the most likely rider to be able to challenge Marquez for the 2019 Moto2 World Championship title. The #40, though, crashed out on lap one at turn ten and did not advance from last place until lap seven.
As the race approached its final stages, it was becoming more clear that Marquez, who was second, would not be able to catch Binder in front. Instead, after dropping Luca Marini from the second-place battle, Marquez was having to contend with a charging Jorge Navarro in pursuit of his first Moto2 win, and coming on strong towards the end of the race with the tyre-friendly Speed Up.
It wasn’t until the beginning of lap nineteen that Navarro was able to take second place from Marquez. There were only three laps to close down and pass Binder who had a comfortable advantage. Naverro entered the final lap with a chance to win, but two mistakes – in turn one and turn ten – cost him his first win.
In comparison, Binder was faultless throughout and took the difficult KTM to the second win of its final season. Aragon is a circuit which has been kind to Binder in the past, winning the Moto3 title there in 2016 – incidentally a race which was won by Jorge Navarro – by finishing second, and converting pole to victory there in 2018. Perhaps, though, this was his best performance in MotorLand, such is the difficulty of the KTM Moto2 chassis this season, and it proved why KTM are right to promote him to MotoGP in 2020 even without the intermediate class world title.
Navarro’s race was typical of his season, fast in the end but dropping too much in the beginning of the race which prevented him from being able to directly challenge Binder for the win. Additionally, it seems the nerves which have been attributed to his poor starts came into play once more in the final lap. With some more composure perhaps Navarro could have had a chance into the final two corners, but either way there is no doubt that the #9 is improving and the first intermediate class win can surely not be far.
For Alex Marquez, the race went perhaps better than expected – Augusto Fernandez not scoring, combined with the #73’s third place means that his championship advantage is extended to thirty-eight points over Navarro who takes second place in the standings from Fernandez (forty-six points back of Marquez). At this rate Marquez could confirm himself as World Champion in Australia.
Luca Marini finished fourth after being dropped from the second place battle, over five seconds from the win. Yet, it was a decent ride from the #10, who took his best result since his podium in Mugello in a difficult season for last year’s Malaysian GP winner.
Behind Marini was Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), the Brit making a strong result out of a good weekend, one which he will hope can set up a strong end to his season. Tom Luthi dropped back after the opening laps when he was fighting for the podium and finished sixth, ahead of Iker Lecuona (American Racing), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40), Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Mar VDS) who completed the top ten.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) was unable to repeat his performance of Misano and finished eleventh, ahead of Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46), Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) who took the final point in fifteenth.
Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) was sixteenth ahead of his home round in Buriram. The Thai was ahead of Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) in seventeenth, Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) in eighteenth, Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) in nineteenth and Jesko Raffin (Dynavolt Intact GP) who completed the top twenty in place of the injured Marcel Schrotter.
Twenty-first over the line was Simone Corsi (NTS RW Racing GP), ahead of Augusto Fernandez, Jake Dixon (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team), Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing), Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Xavi Cardelus (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team), Gabriele Ruiu in place of Mattia Pasini at Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2, Gerry Salim in place of Dimas Ekky in IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia, and Joe Roberts (American Racing) who was the last of the thirty finishers.
The only retirement from the race was Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) who was unhurt after his crash.
Featured Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM