Moto2: Di Giannantonio Scores Maiden Intermediate Pole

By the time the Moto2 riders got out on track for their thirteenth qualifying of the 2019 World Championship, the surface in Misano was positively cooked, and conditions were therefore difficult – making the most of the MotoGP rubber early on would be key to a good starting position.

Q1 saw Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) top the session with his final flying lap from compatriot Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Iker Lecuona (American Racing) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), all of whom moved through with Marini to Q2.

Fabio Di Giannantonio pole setter for the 2019 San Marino GP Moto2 Race. Image courtesy of +EGO SPEED UP

The Q2 session saw Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) score his first Moto2 World Championship pole position in his second home race of the season – although, the #21 is a Roman. Di Giannantonio’s rookie season in the intermediate class has been a strong one, and this pole position is one which he has earned throughout the year. Lining up alongside the Italian will be championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with whom Di Giannantonio fought a cold war in Brno, and Silverstone winner Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) who recovered well from a crash in FP3 and set himself up well to go back-to-back for the first time in his career in tomorrow’s race.

The ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team duo of Remy Gardner and Tetsuta Nagashima head up the second row, and are joined Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS); while Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) heads up row three from Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) on the Briton’s birthday and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) who had by far his best qualifying performance of the season with ninth place.

The top ten is rounded out by the returning Enea Bastianini, as he lines up at the front of row four ahead of Italtrans Racing Team teammate Andrea Locatelli and fellow compatriot Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) who ensures that the fourth row is an all-Italian affair. Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) qualified thirteenth ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) and Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) who will be disappointed to see his teammate on pole from the vantage point of fifteenth.

Jorge Martin KTM Moto2 Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

The Red Bull KTM Ajo pairing of Brad Binder and Jorge Martin head up row six from Iker Lecuona, meaning KTM have a sixth-row lockout.

Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) was the fastest rider to miss out on Q2, qualifying nineteenth. The Thai rider will be joined on the seventh row by the MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward pairing of Stefano Manzi and Dominique Aegerter who were twentieth and twenty-first respectively.

Row eight will see Simone Corsi (NTS RW Racing GP) from twenty-second as he replaces Steven Odendaal on the NTS, something he will continue to do for the remainder of the season. Corsi will be joined by NTS RW Racing GP teammate Bo Bendsneyder and Joe Roberts (American Racing) on the eighth row, whilst Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) heads up row nine from Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing). On the back row, Xavi Cardelus (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) will start ahead of the two replacement riders, Adam Norrodin (in place of Khairul Idham Pawi at Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Andi Izdihar (in place of Dimas Ekky at IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia).

Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) suffered a broken clavicle in practice, and will miss the remainder of the weekend as a result, and most likely next weekend’s Aragon GP as well.

Moto2: Fernandez Takes Second Moto2 Win as Marquez Crashes Out

Round twelve of the 2019 Moto2 World Championship took place in Silverstone, as Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) took his second career GP win.

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) made the holeshot from pole position, with Jorge Navarro (Campetella Speed Up) in tow. The Spanish pair were significantly faster in the early stages of the race, pulling away by almost two seconds.

Things changed, though, when Marquez crashed on lap six, leaving Navarro alone at the front. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), behind, started to reel in the Speed Up rider, bringing Augusto Fernandez with him. Seven laps after Marquez crashed and Binder took second from Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), the South African hit the front.

Binder held the lead for three laps, before Navarro was able to respond. Having had some time to regroup, Navarro was able to pull a small gap for himself when he returned to the front, but Fernandez’ pace on the penultimate lap when he passed Binder put him in position to pass his compatriot for the lead on the final lap.

Fernandez made his move in the second part of the Vale chicane, a strange move and certainly an unexpected one on the part of Navarro, who was unable to respond before the finish.

The race was a tyre management exercise, and Fernandez was the best at it. Normally, Speed Up look after the tyres well, but despite Fernandez’ aggressive style and slightly harsher Kalex frame, he was able to find more grip in the final stages than his rivals, and his second Grand Prix win arrived as a result.

Jorge Navarro has had few better chances to win a Moto2 race, but he was unable to take this one. It seemed that Marquez’ crash unsettled the #9, and perhaps the reasonably significant lead that he inherited as a result played on his mind. Either way, it was a decent result to end a strong weekend from the Spaniard, who moved to joint-second in the championship on points, along with Fernandez and Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) – the three of them thirty-five points behind Marquez.

Third place for Brad Binder was extremely impressive. He failed to make Q2 directly on Saturday and was clearly riding at the very limit of the bike for the whole race. When Remy Gardner passed him on the penultimate lap, there was a good response from Binder. The South African made his move on Gardner for third as Navarro tried to make his move for the lead on Fernandez, in Brooklands, but while Navarro was unable to make his move stick, Binder was able to pull the KTM down to the apex and prevent a counter-attack from Gardner. It was a well-deserved rostrum for the 2016 Moto3 champion.

Brad Binder, 3rd place in the Moto2 race, at the British MotoGP 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

Whilst Gardner missed out on the podium, the British GP represented a return to form for the Australian who went slightly off the boil after Jerez, where he was involved in the turn one crash, and the rear tyre changed. Tetsuta Nagashima made sure of a double ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team top five in Silverstone with fifth.

Sixth place went to Fabio Di Giannantonio (Campetella Speed Up), who was ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) after the Italian came from eighteenth on the grid. Eighth was Tom Luthi, who will have been disappointed to fail to make significant in-roads into Marquez’ championship lead, instead slipping into a battle for second with Fernandez and Navarro. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) finished ninth ahead of Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who completed the top ten.

Iker Lecuona (American Racing) was eleventh ahead of fellow KTM rider Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) who took the final point.

Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) was sixteenth, ahead of Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward), Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward), Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) who completed the top twenty.

Twenty-first went to Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) who was ahead of Joe Roberts (American Racing), Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP), Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing), Xavi Cardelus (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) and Teppei Nagoe (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) who finished last in his third race replacing Dimas Ekky.

After Marquez dropped out, Bradley Smith’s replacement ride for Khairul Idham Pawi at Petronas Sprinta Racing was the next to come to an early end, before Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) crashed out on the final lap.

Moto2: A Tenth Different Winner in Silverstone?

The Moto2 World Championship heads to Silverstone this weekend for the twelfth round of the 2019 season – the British Grand Prix.

There has been a different winner in Silverstone in each of the nine Moto2 races, and the only rider on this year’s Moto2 grid who has won in Silverstone in the Moto2 class is Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP). The two races since the summer break have been difficult ones for Luthi, crashing out in Brno and finishing only sixth last time out in Austria. Alex Marquez’ (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) winning run was broken in Austria by Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) but nonetheless the Spaniard was able to further extend his points lead. With only eight races to go it will be crucial for Luthi to take points out of Marquez in Silverstone – time is running out.

This is positive for Marquez, since Luthi hasn’t come close to beating him since he started winning in Le Mans. Additionally, Marquez has a decent record in Britain, finishing fourth in 2015, second in 2014 on his way to the Moto3 title, and beating Maverick Vinales to the final podium position in 2013. He is missing Luthi’s intermediate class win in Silverstone, but it is a place where Marquez tends to go quite well, and his form means he is a strong favourite for this weekend.

Having won KTM’s home race last time out, Brad Binder will be hoping to return to the podium for the fourth time in five races this weekend. KTM’s departure from Moto2 at the end of the season means that it is unlikely that the intermediate class chassis will see much improvement for the remainder of the season, but a track like Silverstone where the rider can make a lot of difference will be one where Binder can fight at the front again.

Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) were both in the fight for the win in Austria, until Marini lost the front in turn nine towards the end of the race and wiped them both out. Marini was unhurt but Bastianini has a wrist injury, although is expecting to be fine this weekend.

Whilst Bastianini should be fine to ride this weekend, Khairul Idham Pawi is still out of action. The Malaysian has missed a lot of races this season, with three riders taking his place. First, it was Mattia Pasini who replaced him, then Jonas Folger. The latter’s decision to focus on his Yamaha testing role for the remainder of the year has opened up the Petronas Sprinta Racing seat once more, with it being taken up this time by home rider Bradley Smith who has some experience with the bike from a test earlier in the week at Mallory Park.

Featured Image courtesy of David Goldman/MarcVDS

Moto2: Binder Wins as KTM Announce Withdrawal

The Red Bull Ring in Austria played host to the eleventh round of the 2019 Moto2 World Championship, as Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took his first win of the season.

Brad Binder winner of the 11th Round MotoGP 2019 – Red Bull Ring (AUT). Image courtesy of Philip Platzer/KTM

Sunday began with Pit Beirer announcing that KTM would be pulling out of Moto2 at the end of 2019 to focus efforts on their MotoGP RC16 project.

As a response, Binder made the holeshot from the middle of the front row, and immediately began to escape with pole sitter Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in tow. Soon, though, Binder was alone out front, as a mistake from Vierge in braking for turn four saw him hit the back of Nagashima, taking them both out of the race.

That left Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) to chase Binder, just over one second up the road from the Australian. Behind Gardner was a big group, back to the fringes of the top ten and the fighting within it was tense.
Gardner, though, along with Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) were able to escape from the pack and chase after Binder. Despite his poor qualifying, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was also able to join the fray.

The front group was reduced once more, this time to three, as Gardner made a mistake passing Binder. The #87 ran wide in turn one and, whilst Bastianini was able to pass him cleanly, Marquez clipped the front wheel of the Australian’s Kalex on the way through, taking Gardner out of the race. Marquez did nothing wrong, but that did not stop the gesticulations from his rival, Gardner throwing hands at the Spaniard as he sat in the middle of the track with twenty bikes heading straight for him.

The trio at the front soon became a quartet, with Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) joining the fun, but it didn’t last long. Marini’s best part of the track was through turn eight, where he would get a better drive than his rivals, and he could pass in turn nine. This is what he did to Alex Marquez with four laps to go, but when he tried the same move on Enea Bastianini one lap later, he lost the front and took them both out, Bastianini having to be carried away on a stretcher.

Brad Binder celebrating his win at the11th Round Moto2 2019 – Red Bull Ring (AUT). Image courtesy of Philip Platzer/KTM

That left Marquez as Binder’s only challenger, but he was unable to close the gap and make a move on the South African, who took his first win of the season, and KTM’s first Moto2 win since Miguel Oliveira won in Valencia last season. It was, then, a good day for KTM in the Moto2 category, but perhaps there is some irony that they final win the intermediate class race at their home GP on the day they announce they don’t want to compete in the class anymore.

Alex Marquez’ second place was his first trip to the podium in any position other than first since he was third in Argentina. Although not a win, second place was important for the championship leader, whose points advantage extended to forty-three points as he proved that even from a bad qualifying and in a difficult weekend, or one where the field is closely matched, he still has the ability to churn out a good result.

The chaos in the final laps with Gardner, Bastianini and Marini all dropping out meant that Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) was able to take the final podium position, as he took to the rostrum for the first time since he was third in Barcelona.

Fourth place went to Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40), which can be considered a good result for the tall Italian at a track where his size will be of a disadvantage. Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) recovered from his thirteenth-place qualifying to round out the top five.

Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) was quite fast at the start, but as the race went on it became more difficult for the Swiss to be consistent, as he made numerous mistakes in the several hard-braking points at the Red Bull Ring. The #12 loses more points to Marquez with his sixth place, now forty-three behind ahead of Silverstone.

Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took his best result of the season with seventh place ahead of Iker Lecuona (American Racing), Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) who completed the top ten.

Jorge Martin, Austrian Moto2, 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) was eleventh ahead of rookie and front-row-starter Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia); whilst Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) was thirteenth in front of Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) and Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) who completed the points.

Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) was sixteenth, ahead of teammate Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward), Jonas Folger (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) and Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP) who completed the top twenty.
Twenty-first over the line was Joe Roberts (American Racing), ahead of Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) who beat his teammate Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3). Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was only twenty-fourth, ahead of Dimas Ekky’s replacement at IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia, Teppei Nagoe. Xavi Cardelus (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) was twenty-sixth, whilst Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) was twenty-seventh and last.

All of the retirements were from the front group, with Vierge taking out Nagashima before apologising; Gardner having his front wheel taken away by Marquez and Marini cleaning out Bastianini before apologising.

Moto2: Nagashima Charges to Maiden Moto2 Pole

After the MotoGP qualifying session, clouds hung over the Red Bull Ring, bringing the track temperature down for the Austrian Moto2 qualifying session at round eleven of the 2019 World Championship.

Q1 saw Iker Lecuona (American Racing) top the session despite traffic. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46), Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) and Brno runner-up Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) joined the #27 Spaniard in moving through to Q2.

In Q2, Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) took his first career pole and a Moto2 lap record for the Red Bull Ring. 2019 has been a strong season for the Japanese, and after a poor race for his #090 Honda team at the Suzuka 8 Hour last month before Brno, the #45 has rebounded well in the two GPs since then.

Joining Nagashima on the front row are Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), running the old KTM frame, and rookie Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia), the 2016 Asia Talent Cup Champion qualifying third on his first visit to the Red Bull Ring. In all, it is a quite peculiar front row.

Row two sees Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) ahead of Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP). Qualifying did not go so well for Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), so a second row start could be important for Luthi who finished third behind Marquez in the 2017 Austrian GP. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) looks to be back on the pace this weekend after a dismal race in Brno. The Italian qualified sixth.

Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) has plenty of question marks surrounding his future after a difficult ten races with Marc VDS, but a seventh-place in qualifying in Austria will help things. Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) join the #97 on the third row.

Luca Marini has been quite consistent this weekend, but not able to make the difference with a new tyre in a time attack – the Italian finally qualified tenth ahead of Alex Marquez and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), with the new KTM chassis, who will join him on row four.

Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) heads up row five ahead of Iker Lecuona and Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), the Italian’s fastest lap ensuring the first fourteen riders on the grid of tomorrow’s race are covered by just 0.400 seconds.

The sixth row is more detached from the fifth row than the fifth is detached from the first, almost, with Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) – who crashed in Q2 – 0.319 seconds behind Pasini in sixteenth. One tenth further back of Schrotter is seventeenth-placed Andrea Locatelli, whilst Fabio Di Giannantonio was eighteenth, almost one second slower than Nagashima.

Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) at the Red Bull Ring. Image courtesy of KF GLAENZEL/Dynavolt Intact GP

Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) was the fastest rider to not make Q2, qualifying nineteenth. The MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward duo of Dominique Aegerter and Stefano Manzi join Bulega on row seven, qualifying in twentieth and twenty-first respectively.

Jonas Folger (Petronas Sprinta Racing) will go from the front of row eight as he replaces Khairul Idham Pawi again. Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) will join the German on the eighth row; whilst Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) – who won in Austria in Moto3 last year – will start twenty-fifth ahead of Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team).

Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP) qualified twenty-eighth on his first visit to the Red Bull Ring and will start ahead of Joe Roberts (American Racing) and Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing).

Teppei Nagoe, replacing Dimas Ekky at IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia, will start from thirty-first, ahead of last-placed Xavi Cardelus (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) on the back row of the grid.

Moto2: Can Marquez be Stopped in Austria?

The Moto2 World Championship arrives in Austria weekend for round eleven of the 2019 World Championship from the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) comes into this round with a thirty-three-point championship lead, and colossal momentum after taking his fifth win in six races last week in Brno. Beating him this weekend will not be easy, even though the Spaniard is without a podium in Austria, such has been his dominance since Le Mans. It seems that Marquez’ understanding of the Dunlop tyres with the Triumph-powered Moto2 bikes is superior to his rivals.

That said, impressive performances from Fabio Di Giannantonio (Speed Up) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) last weekend, where they were able to match Marquez’ pace throughout the race, in the case of Di Giannantonio, and especially in the closing stages, proved that Marquez is reachable. Beatable, however, is unclear, but every weekend presents a different challenge and new opportunity for Marquez’ rivals.

While Brno was a good race for Alex Marquez, for his strongest championship rival, Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) it was a disaster. The Swiss crashed out early on, giving Marquez an advantage he doesn’t need. Thirty-three points might not seem like a huge amount, but when Marquez has the pace advantage he has week after week, and keeps churning out wins, it might not be long before this world title slips out of reach of Luthi.

KTM almost won their home race last year in the hands of Miguel Oliveira, before the Portuguese was passed in the final corner by Francesco Bagnaia. Things have been more complicated for KTM this year, but an all-knew chassis – a complete redesign from KTM – for Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was an apparent step in the right direction for the Austrian marque in Brno, despite the South African ending his race in the gravel. There were two podiums for Binder – who has been the standout rider on the KTM this season – before the summer break in Assen and Sachsenring, so there will be some hope in the orange camp that they can return to the rostrum in their home race despite the difficulties this season.

Jorge Navarro (Speed Up) had one of his best results of 2018 in Austria, finishing fifth on the Gresini Kalex twelve months ago. Navarro has been one of the standout riders in the intermediate class in 2019 aboard the Speed Up, and his usually strong race pace and tyre management can be a particularly strong point in Austria where traction is so important.

After missing the last three races courtesy of Stefano Manzi’s (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) error in practice at Assen, Dimas Ekky (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) is out once again this weekend. The Indonesian will be replaced by Teppei Nagoe, who replaced Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) earlier in the year.

Featured Image courtesy of Gareth Harford/ MarcVDS

Moto2: Dominant Marquez Takes Fifth 2019 Win in Brno

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.

Fabio Di Giannantonio chasing Alex Marquez, Czech Moto2, 2019. Image courtesy of David Goldman/MarcVDS

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.

Di Giannantonio, Alex Marquez, Bastianini, Moto2 race, Czech MotGP 2019. Image courtesy of David Goldman/MarcVDS

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

Moto2: Marquez Storms to Brno Pole

Rain between MotoGP qualifying and Moto2 qualifying meant the track was once more wet for the intermediate class sessions in Brno for round ten of the 2019 World Championship.

In Q1, it was Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) who took the top spot, moving through to Q2 along with Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP), Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3).

Alex Marquez, Moto2, Czech MotoGP 2019. Image courtesy of David Goldman/Marc VDS

Having just seen his brother annihilate the MotoGP field with slick tyres on a drying track, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) replicated that performance as he took pole position at the end of Moto2 Q2 with slicks on a drying track. It was a stunning lap from Marquez, who had over two seconds to his nearest rival, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), who will line up second tomorrow having not run wet tyres in the first part of Q2. Joining Marquez and Lowes on the front row is Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) who will be hoping for a return to form in the first race after the summer break.

Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) has looked strong all weekend, and was able to translate his practice promise into a strong qualifying performance as he went fourth-fastest, ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) and an impressive Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) who, like Bulega, took his best qualifying in Moto2.

Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) qualified seventh ahead of Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) and Jake Dixon who, too, took his best qualifying position in the Moto2 World Championship.

Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) completes the top ten of the grid and heads up row four, ahead of Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) and Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), who will be up against it tomorrow to take it to championship leader and pole sitter Marquez from twelfth.

Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) was fast on the wet tyre, but switched to slicks too late to be able to set a lap time, he will start from the front of the fifth row ahead of Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team).

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) could only put the brand new KTM chassis in sixteenth, and will start from the sixth row alongside Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team).

Jorge Martin, Czech Moto2, 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

The fastest rider to not make Q2 was Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who will head up row seven from a bitterly disappointed Joe Roberts (American Racing), a crash costing the American a Q2 appearance. Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) completes row seven.

Row eight sees Somkiet Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) ahead of Iker Lecuona (American Racing) and Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2); whilst Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP) heads up row nine from Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) and Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward).

Xavi Cardelus (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) goes tomorrow from the front of row ten in twenty-eighth, ahead of Jonas Folger (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward); whilst Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) will be alone one the last row.

Dimas Ekky (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) did not take part in qualifying, having been declared unfit after FP1, still suffering the after-effects of his collision with Stefano Manzi in Assen.

Featured Image courtesy of Gareth Harford/MarcVDS

Moto2: Marquez Leads into Brno

This weekend the Moto2 World Championship returns from its summer break in the Czech Republic, as Brno hosts the tenth round of the 2019 season.

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) returns from his holidays leading the championship by eight points from Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP). Sachsenring was another masterclass from Marquez, who has clearly been the rider who has made the best adaptation to this year’s regulation changes with the Triumph engines as increased electronics in Grand Prix racing’s intermediate class. In Germany, Marquez won by over one second, as he did in Barcelona, Mugello and Le Mans, and dominated the field to reclaim the championship lead as his closest rival Luthi finished only fifth to relinquish the championship lead. Marquez has a decent record in Brno, finishing fourth in his first Moto2 Czech Grand Prix in 2015, fifth in 2016 and second in 2017, so will be hoping to extend his advantage again this weekend.

Tom Luthi won his last Moto2 race in Brno back in 2017 in the rain, although his previous Czech podium to that was third in 2013, following a second in 2012. Luthi’s last win before his 2017 triumph was back in 2005, his 125cc championship-winning year. The Swiss needs to add a third Czech win this weekend if he wants to keep the pressure on Marquez, who currently looks nailed on for the title based on his pace advantage in the latter part of the race.

Another disappointing race for Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) in Sachsenring, where he finished seventh, six seconds off the win, saw him fall out of championship contention despite dominating the early part of the season. Finishing behind his Pons teammate, Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40), also saw the Spaniard extend his points lead over Baldassarri in their battle for third in the championship.

Also involved in that third-place points battle are Jorge Navarro (Speed Up) and Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) who are both joint on ninety-seven points with Baldassarri, as well as Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) just seven points further back and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) just six points back of Marini.

Navarro’s season has been up-and-down, but more up than down. The Spaniard was near the back at turn one in Germany, but his comeback was strong and he finished eighth, a performance which backed up his podiums from earlier in the year. All that is missing from Navarro’s season is a win, and the Speed Up’s prowess in the mid-corner could prove pivotal for him in the flowing corners of Brno.

Marcel Schrotter’s season has been similar to Navarro’s, in that he is just missing a win. He was back on the pace in Germany, but fell back just after the start and that compromised his podium challenge.

Luca Marini suffered with his shoulder in Germany, but last year fought with Miguel Oliveira for the win in Brno so should be expected to fight at the front again this year, as will Brad Binder who has been second in the last two races for KTM on a bike which arguably should not be in the top three, and now has a MotoGP contract in place for 2020 at Red Bull KTM Tech 3.

Featured Image courtesy of David Goldman/MarcVDS

Moto2: Luthi Leads the Pack to Germany

One week on from the Dutch TT, the Moto2 World Championship is in Sachsenring for the German Grand Prix, round nine of the 2019 season.

Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) arrives in Germany straight off the back of his first win in Grand Prix racing. The Spaniard finished fifteenth at Sachsenring last season, his first visit to the German track, which is a unique one on the calendar and therefore difficult to learn. With three podiums to his name so far in 2019, including that debut win last time out, Fernandez will be keen to fight in the top five once again this weekend.

Tom Luthi on the Assen 2019 Moto2 grid. Image courtesy of KF GLAENZEL/Dynavolt Intact GP

Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) has done what Tom Luthi does this year, and that is to be consistent. The Swiss has not finished outside the top six this season, with his worst result coming in Argentina when he clipped the back wheel of Brad Binder’s Red Bull KTM Ajo machine and crashed out of the race. However, if Luthi is to truly fight for the championship he needs to increase the frequency of his wins, as with one to his name so far this year he has two less than his closest rival Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).

Marquez was on for another podium, and possibly win, in Assen last time out before he was the unfortunate victim of Lorenzo Baldassarri’s crash when the Flexbox HP 40 rider tried to pass him. There was no malice in the move from Baldassarri, who went to apologise to his rival after the race, but it dented both of their respective title challenges with Luthi claiming the lead thanks to his fourth place. Despite his brother’s unparalleled success in Germany – Marc having won nine times in the last nine years at Sachsenring – Alex Marquez has never stepped upon the podium at Sachsenring – the closest he has come so far to doing so was in 2014 when he finished fourth on his way to the Moto3 world title. Marquez’ best finish in Moto2 in Germany is a thirteenth place last year, when he was passed for twelfth by a recovering Francesco Bagnaia in the final corner, whilst he crashed out in 2016 and 2017 (with some physical consequence in the latter) and finished outside the points in 2015.

Alex Marquez, Dutch Moto2 race 2019. Image courtesy of Gareth Harford/Marc VDS

Lorenzo Baldassarri’s non-finish in Assen was not what the Italian needed as he aimed to get back on track after slipping to fourth in the championship in Barcelona following his unbroken topping of the points between Qatar and Italy. Baldassarri crashed out of last year’s German Grand Prix, and like Marquez he has never finished in the top three in Germany, with his best result coming in 2016 when he finished fifth. A strong finish this weekend will be crucial for the Italian to go into the summer break with a good mindset, which will be important for the second half of the season if he wants to re-engage in the championship fight.

Brad Binder took KTM’s first Moto2 podium of 2019 last time out in Assen, their first since Miguel Oliveira won in Valencia last year. Binder also won in Sachsenring last year, and after a positive weekend in Holland it will be important for the Austrian marque, and Binder, to confirm what seemed to be a significant step forward at round eight.

Featured Image courtesy of KF GLAENZEL/Intact GP