There’s definitely one thing the 2021 Moto2 season has not been, and that is predictable. Last weekend’s outing at the Red Bull Ring of the Americas was no exception, creating yet more twists and turns in a fascinating and entertaining season.
Over the last few rounds the championship has evolved into a two-horse race between the Ajo KTM teammates Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez, with Gardner holding onto the top spot with a seemingly comfortable lead. Going into the weekend, Gardner, on 271 points, was 34 points ahead of Fernandez on 237 with Marco Bezzecchi in third place on 190.
Team Ajo KTM yet again dominated the front row with Raul Fernandez starting on pole (the sixth of his rookie season in Moto2), Gardner second and Fabio Di Giannantonio third. Behind them, Marco Bezzecchi started in fourth place, alongside American Cameron Beaubier in fifth, his best start of the season, and Augusto Fernandez in sixth.
Britain’s Jake Dixon started on row 5 in 13th place and Sam Lowes on row 6 in 16th.
Into turn 1 the local rider Cameron Beaubier slots through to take the lead, but only briefly as he runs wide, allowing both Ajo KTM riders through, with Raul taking the lead.
Beaubier drops back to fourth and then fifth as he is passed by Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi, but comes back at Bezzecchi to regain fourth.
Gardner passes his teammate, but is unable to make it stick, and on lap 2 Gardner is passed by Di Giannantonio, then Beaubier passes both of them to edge back up into second. The ensuing battle allows Fernandez to stretch out a lead of almost 2 seconds at the front.
Lap 3, and Gardner is back up into second place, Beaubier is pushing hard and passes him on lap 4, but is unable to make it stick.
Everything changes on lap 6 as Gardner crashes out, losing the front end in the tight left hander of Turn 15. He tries desperately to restart his stalled machine, but eventually returns to his garage to watch the remainder of the race.
Raul Fernandez now leads by 2.2 seconds from Di Giannantonio, with Bezecchi, Beaubier and Italy’s Tony Arbolino battling for third.
Digiannantonio starts to make inroads into Fernandez’s lead, bringing it down to 1.7 seconds by lap 9.
Sam Lowes, who dropped back several places in the early stages of the race, suffered mechanical issues and limped his Elf Marc VDS machine back to the pitlane.
By lap 14 Raul Fernandez has again stretched out a 2 second lead over Di Giannantonio, who is in turn 2.7 seconds ahead of 3rd place Bezzecchi, with Augusto Fernandez in 4th, Beaubier in 5th and Arbolino in 6th. These positions remained the same for the final few laps.
After an eventful weekend, Gardner’s championship lead is reduced to nine points, but with Raul Fernandez on a roll can he keep his place at the top as we return to Misano?
First fifteen riders:
1 Raul Fernandez SPA – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 25 points
2 Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 20
3 Marco Bezzecchi ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 16
4 Augusto Fernandez SPA – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 13
5 Cameron Beaubier USA – American Racing – 11
6 Tony Arbolino ITA – Liqui Moly Intact GP – 10
7 Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 9
8 Xavi Vierge SPA – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 8
9 Marcos Ramirez SPA – American Racing – 7
10 Jake Dixon GBR – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 6
11 Aron Canet – SPA Inde Aspar Team – 5
12 Jorge Navarro SPA – MB Conveyors Speed Up – 4
13 Simone Corsi ITA – MV Agusta Forward Racing – 3
14 Somkiat Chantra THA – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 2
15 Bo Bendsneyder NED – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 1