Moto2: Navarro Hands Speed Up 15th Moto2 Pole as Manzi, MV Surprise

The final qualifying session of the 2019 Moto2 World Championship saw cold conditions temper performances.

In Q1, Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) topped the session from a surprising and impressive Jake Dixon (Inde Angel Nieto Team), who went through to Q2 for the first time in dry conditions in his final race with the Aspar outfit; Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) who crashed towards the end of Q1 which complicated things for him with respect to Q2.

Jorge Navarro at the Valencia GP Moto2 2019 race. Image courtesy of Speedup Factory

In Q2, it was Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) who took the final pole position of the year. It was against the odds, such was the dominance of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) over the course of the weekend, but a late lap from Navarro in the final couple of minutes was enough for P1 for the #9. Joining Navarro on the front row for the final race of the year will be Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and the outstanding intermediate class rider of the weekend, Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) who gives MV its first front row since the 1970s, himself his first front row of his GP career and the Forward team its first visit to parc ferme since 2016 when Lorenzo Baldassarri won in Misano.

Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) starts from fourth place  having come from almost nowhere in the middle of the session to trouble the top positions. Joining Marini on row two will be Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) who held provisional pole for a while although a crash just after setting his fastest time meant he could not hold on.

Brad Binder, Valencia Moto2 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

Brad Binder was quite disappointing in seventh, and will be joined on row three by Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team); while row four sees Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) ahead of Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) who enjoyed his best performance in a while.

Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) will start from the front of the fifth row in thirteenth place in his final GP, ahead of Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and the ill newly crowned World Champion Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who will start fifteenth; while Marcel Schrotter starts from sixteenth ahead of fellow Q1 graduates Jake Dixon and Nicolo Bulega, the Italian only managing five laps in Q2 after his Q1 crash.

Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) was the fastest rider to miss Q2 and will start from nineteenth with Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) joining the Swiss on row seven; while Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) heads up the eighth row from Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox Hp 40) who continues his poor qualifying form.

The ninth row sees Dimas Ekky (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) start ahead of Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) in his final GP, before moving to World Supersport, and Iker Lecuona’s replacement at the American Racing team, Sean Kelly who did not disgrace himself on his GP debut. Tomasso Marcon, in for Jesko Raffin at NTS RW Racing GP this weekend as the Swiss is racing in MotoE, will start his first Grand Prix from twenty-eighth, ahead of Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Xavi Cardelus (Inde Angel Nieto Team) who join the Italian on row ten; while the back row is only two-thirds full, with Lukas Tulovic making his and Kiefer Racing’s final GP from thirty-first ahead of last-placed Joe Roberts (American Racing) who did not set a representative lap time.

Moto2: Binder Takes Dominant Win as Fernandez Crashes Out in Aragon

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.

Alex Marquez, Aragon Moto2 2019. Image courtesy of Gareth Harford/MarcVDS

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 at the 2019 Aragon Moto2 race. Image courtesy of Speedup Factory.

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

Moto2: Marquez Takes Pole, Fernandez Posed to Fight in Aragon

Qualifying for the Moto2 World Championship riders in Aragon for round fourteen of the 2019 season took place in good conditions as Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took pole position.

In Q1, Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) topped the session to move through to Q2 along with Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team), Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia).

In Q2, it was Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who took pole position ahead of his main championship rival, Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40), by over one tenth of a second. The two main championship rivals will be joined tomorrow on the front row by the aggressive Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), last year’s winner of this race, which sets up tomorrow’s race to be entertaining in the battle for the lead.

Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) heads up the second row from Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) who seems to have rediscovered some form this weekend. The final spot on the second row will be taken by Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up); whilst row three sees Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) ahead of Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2).

Iker Lecuona (American Racing) completes the qualifying top ten and heads up row four, being joined by Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) and Misano runner-up Fabio Di Giannantonio. On row five, Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) starts ahead of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Andrea Locatelli; whilst Marco Bezzecchi is with Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and Somkiat Chantra on row six.

Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) was the fastest rider to not make Q2, and will start tomorrow’s race from nineteenth, alongside Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) on row seven.

The eighth row consists of Marcel Schrotter’s replacement at Dynavolt Intact GP, Jesko Raffin, in twentieth, ahead of Joe Roberts (American Racing) and Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusts Idealavoro Forward); while row nine sees Jake Dixon (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) ahead of Simone Corsi (NTS RW Racing GP) and Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech 3); and the tenth row has Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) in front of Xavi Cardelus (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) and Gerry Salim (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) who is replacing Dimas Ekky this weekend. The back row has only one rider, with Gabriele Ruiu (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) who this weekend is in place of Mattia Pasini.

Featured Image courtesy of David Goldman/Marc VDS

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