Raul Fernandez Believes he is “Moral Champion”

In an interview with Spanish Autosport, Raul Fernandez claimed that he is the “moral” Moto2 champion in 2021. He believes his team placed “stones and obstacles” in his way, preventing him from taking the title.

Raul Fernandez is the Moto2 rookie who burst onto the grid in 2021, claiming a phenomenal 12 podiums, 7 pole positions and 8 race wins. The latter surpasses the previous record held by Marc Marquez, who won 7 races in his rookie Moto2 season.

These results saw him clinch 2nd in the Moto2 championship, eventually won by his KTM Ajo teammate Remy Gardner. He missed out on the title by just 4 points.

When speaking to Spanish Autosport, Fernandez stated that “no one knew how to guide” him and his team of “inexperienced” mechanics. He believes this played a role in him failing to secure the title in his maiden Moto2 season.

“The problem we had is that my whole team – and when I say my team I mean my mechanics, who I was very lucky to find such a special group – were inexperienced and nobody knew how to guide us. And that is why today we don’t have the championship crown. But morally it has been proved by the result that I am the strongest rider, with more wins, poles, fastest laps.”

“Remy is the champion, he has scored more points, but really with the speed we had and being a fish that swims against the current, I honestly feel morally champion. What we have done, being all new and getting to know each other this year, it’s impressive.”

Image credit: MotoGP

Fernandez then stated that he felt “stones and obstacles” had been placed in his way by his team, handing the championship to his teammate. He claimed that having a “figure” in the team to guide and support himself and the mechanics would have helped them secure the title.

“I have lacked a hand to guide us, a hand to tell us, like little children before they trip over a stone, to be careful. A figure that would guide us and open the way for us, a figure that would want to help us to win, not a figure that would put stones and obstacles in our way so that we wouldn’t succeed. That was the key.”

“It has cost us sweat and tears. In the middle of the year we talked and all of [my mechanics] were having a hard time. We were all looking forward to the end of the season.”

Their strong performances across the 2021 season mean that both Fernandez and Gardner will be moving up to MotoGP, joining the Tech3 KTM Factory Team for 2022. Back in August, when his promotion was confirmed, Fernandez stated that “it’s the dream of any rider to arrive to this class”.

Feature image credit: KTM Press.

Sam Lowes victorious as Moto2 returns to Misano

After crashing out at the Grand Prix of the Americas and seeing his championship lead reduced to just nine points, all eyes were on Remy Gardner and his rookie teammate (and championship rival) Raul Fernandez as we moved into round 16 of the 2021 Moto2 season with a return to Misano.

But this is a season where we have learned to expect the unexpected. After a difficult qualifying in damp conditions, Raul started from 9th place on the grid and Gardner from 14th, his worst starting position of the season.

Moto2 Misano 2021 Picture courtesy of marcvds.com

Fernandez quickly moved up the order to 2nd place by lap 6, but Gardner struggled to make progress, initially dropping back, then moving up to 8th by the start of lap 5.  His attempt at passing Somkiat Chantra forced the Honda Team Asia rider into the gravel, with Gardner being given a long lap penalty.

On Lap 15 Raul Fernandez’s fortunes changed again – after running slightly wide and clipping the white line on turn 15, both bike and rider were sent cartwheeling into the gravel. Fortunately uninjured, Raul could only watch as Gardner crossed the line in 7th place, the championship lead stretching out once again to 18 points.

Instead it was a good day at the office for the Elf Marc VDS Racing Team, with Sam Lowes starting from pole and claiming the top spot on the podium. Teammate Augusto Fernandez received a long lap penalty before the race had even started, for riding slowly on the racing line during qualifying. Starting from 3rd on the grid, he took his penalty early, rejoined in 14th place, and worked his way back up to the top 4, eventually finishing in second.

Off the line Lowes held onto the lead after a brief challenge from his teammate, as behind him Aron Canet moved up past Jorge Navarro into 2nd and Augusto dropped back into 4th.

By the end of lap 1 Canet had taken the lead, until lap 4 when Navarro moved up to challenge, Canet forced him wide and Lowes was able to pass them both, and in the meantime Raul Fernandez moved up to 3rd.

Going into lap 6, Lowes had a lead of half a second, and started to stretch it out, as Raul Fernandez passed Canet to gain 2nd place. Lap 7 saw Raul close in on Lowes, as Gardner’s attempted overtake of Chantra resulted in a long lap penalty. A prolonged battle with Augusto Fernandez saw Gardner struggle to maintain his pace and by lap 15 Augusto was running in 6th, Stefano Manzi 7th and Gardner 8th.

After Raul Fernandez’ crash, Gardner took to the long lap loop, and rejoined in 7th place in front of Marco Bezzecchi.

On lap 18, Lowes ran wide allowing Canet to seize the opportunity to take the lead, but Lowes regained the place on lap 22 whilst fighting the front end, and Canet began to drop back almost immediately. On the last lap, Lowes led by a second over Canet, who was in turn half a second ahead of Augusto Fernandez. As they approached the chequered flag Augusto caught up to Canet to snatch 2nd.

Lowes & Fernandez podium Moto2 Misano 2021 Picture courtesy of marcvds.com

With only 2 rounds remaining, can Raul Fernandez fight back to take the championship crown in his rookie season? Or can Gardner recover his composure and increase his lead?

First fifteen riders:

1              Sam Lowes GBR  – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 25 points

2              Augusto Fernandez SPA – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 20

3              Aron Canet SPA  – Aspar Team Moto2 – 16

4              Celestino Vietti ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 13

5              Jorge Navarro SPA – +EGO Speed Up – 11

6              Stefano Manzi ITA – Flexbox HP40 – 10

7              Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 9

8              Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 8

9              Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 7

10           Marcos Ramirez SPA – American Racing – 6

11           Albert Arenas SPA – Aspar Team Moto2 – 5

12           Bo Bendsneyder NED – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 4

13           Jake Dixon GBR – Petronas Sprinta Racing -3

14           Thomas Luthi SWI – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 2

15           Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact GP – 1

 

Quartararo remains cautious, Bagnaia going for the win in Misano

Quartararo

The two championship rivals, Fabio Quartararo and Pecco Bagnaia, have both gave differing opinions on how they will approach this weekend.

Heading into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Quartararo holds a 52-point lead in the Riders’ Standings.

With just two rounds remaining after this weekend, which means just 50 more points will be up for grabs, this is the first ‘match point’ the Frenchman has at claiming the title.

Fabio Quartararo, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP

But the Yamaha rider has said his mindset has changed since his second place result last time out in Austin and will be smart about how he rides this weekend.

“Austin was really tough but rewarding,” he said in a Yamaha press release.

“That second place was great for the championship, especially because we only have three GPs left.

“For this final part of the competition my mindset has changed a little. The last time we were in Misano, I was racing for the win and not thinking about the championship at all.

“Of course I will still do my best as always to get the best result possible this weekend, because that’s what I enjoy most, but I will try to be smart about it.”

When the MotoGP paddock headed to Misano just over a month ago for Round 14, Quartararo was beaten to the line by championship rival Pecco Bagnaia.

The Italian rider will need to be on the same form this weekend if he is to have any chance of winning this year’s championship.

The aim of the VR|46 Academy is to produce a premier class champion. Francesco Bagnaia Credit: Ducati Corse

Bagnaia has said the objective is clear this weekend, to win the race and keep the fight going to Portimao.

“To be back racing at Misano after the stunning victory that I took here in front of my home crowd a month ago is definitely very exciting,” he said.

“That weekend everything was perfect, and the two days of post-race testing were very positive for us. Nevertheless, we have to stay focused: our rivals will come to this Grand Prix much better prepared, and the track conditions will be different, with lower track temperatures than a month ago.

“It will be essential to work well from the first sessions. The objective will be to fight for the win and keep the Championship open until the end.”

Round 12 WorldSBK Argentina Race 1

Toprak Razgatlioglu took victory in Race one of the Argentinian round of WorldSBK.

WorldSBK Argentina Race 1 Picture courtesy of KRT (Kawasaki Racing Team)

Lights out and it’s Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) with the hole shot into turn one, but disaster for Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) who loses the front end, and his Ducati spins out into the gravel. It is Razgatlioglu in first, Rea (KRT Kawasaki) second, Lowes (KRT Kawasaki) third, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) fourth and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) fifth.

Twenty laps to go and Razgatlioglu and Rea are steadily pulling away from the field. Redding rejoins 15 seconds behind in last place, while further back it’s vd Mark seventh, Haslam (Honda HRC) eighth and Laverty (BMW Motorrad) ninth. Next to crash out is Bautista (Honda HRC), and his race is over.

With 18 laps to go, Razgatlioglu increased his gap to Rea to 1.8 and was looking comfortable out in front, while Rea was battling to hold onto his 2nd position. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) uses all the top end speed of the Ducati to get through on Lowes down the back straight – the Kawasaki having no answer to the power of the Ducati.

With 12 laps to go, Redding had climbed up to P14. Meanwhile at the front Toprak had cleared off into the distance, and would not be caught unless he made a huge mistake, but was looking odds on for the win. Rea was looking resigned to his second place.

With six laps to go, Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) has got past Lowes, and held a gap of 0.3 to the Kawasaki. Further back it was Locatelli 7th, Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 8th, Haslam (Honda HRC) 9th and Laverty (BMW Motorrad) 10th.

Last lap, and Razgatlioglu crosses the line for his 12th win of the season, Rea 2nd, Rinaldi 3rd, Lowes 4th, Bassani 5th. Meanwhile Redding takes 9th.

Top Five Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  3. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)
  4. Lowes (KRT Kawasaki)
  5. Bassani (motocorsa Ducati)

Top Three Championship Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 503 pts
  2. Rea – 474
  3. Redding – 431

 

More twists and turns in Moto2 at the Circuit of the Americas

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.

Moto2 Americas Augusto Fernandez. Picture courtesy of marcvds.com

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.

Moto2 Americas Sam Lowes. Picture courtesy of marcvds.com

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

Round 11 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal Race 2

The Superpole race saw vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) claim the win followed by Redding (aruba.it Ducati) in 2nd and Baz (go eleven Ducati) 3rd.

WorldSBK Portimao 03.10.21 Race 2 Razgalioglu Picture courtest of Pata Yamaha Racing

Lights out for race 2 and its Redding with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by the Pata Yamaha team mates of Locatelli and Razgatlioglu. Rea (Kawasaki KRT) was a man on a mission, already up to 3rd, from a grid position of 10th. It was Redding, followed by Locatelli 2nd, Rea 3rd, Razgatlioglu 4th, Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) 5th and vd Mark 6th.

With 18 laps to go, Rea blasts past Locatelli down the straight to take 2nd, then cuts up on Redding down the sweeping left hander to take over the lead for the first time.

Next lap, and Rea subsequently loses his lead to both Redding and Razgatlioglu down the straight. Rea now in 3rd. Further back it was Locatelli 4th, Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 5th, Bautista (HRC Honda) 6th, Baz 7th and vd Mark who had a terrible start, was now languishing in 8th.

WorldSBK Portimao 03.10.21 Race 2 Rinaldi Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 16 laps to go, Razgatlioglu tries to out brake Redding into turn 1 but locks up the front, which allows Rea space to pass. Following corner, and this time Redding runs wide, again Jonny capitalises and retakes the lead for the 2nd time.

With 15 laps to go, Rea puts in a fastest lap of 1:41.942. Again as in race 1, it is this group of title contenders pulling away from the rest. Razgatlioglu finally does make his move on Redding, moving up to 2nd and is now 0.3 behind Rea.

With 13 laps to go, Razgatlioglu passes Rea down the straight, the Kawasaki suffering from a lack of top end speed in comparison to the Yamaha R1. Toprak is next to post a fastest lap of 1:41.522, but Rea is able to stay right on his wheel. Meanwhile Bautista has moved up to 5th.

With 9 laps to go, Razgatlioglu loses the front end of his Yamaha into the high speed turn 15, nearly an identical crash to Rea in race 1. The Yamaha flying into the gravel. The Turkish rider is able to get onto his feet, but his race is over. Redding meanwhile, is starting to lose touch with Rea, the gap now 1.1.

With 7 laps to go there was a three way battle for 3rd between Locatelli, Bautista and Baz. Both of them subsequently passing the Italian. It was Baz 3rd, Bautista 4th and Locatelli 5th.

WorldSBK Portimao 03.10.21 Race 2 Bautista Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Last 2 laps remaining, and Rea has increased his lead over Redding to 2.6 and looking comfortable at the front. Meanwhile Bautista makes a lunge from along way back into turn 5 on Baz, who then makes contact with Bautista and subsequently punts him off the track.

Rea crosses the line for his 13th win at Portimao, followed by Redding 2nd, Baz 3rd, Locatelli 4th, Gerloff 5th and vd Mark 6th.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  2. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Baz (go Eleven Ducati)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team)

Out: Bautista, Razgatlioglu, Rabat, Epis, Ruiu

Championship top 3:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 478 pts
  2. Rea – 454
  3. Redding 424

 

Round 11 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal, Race 1

Toprak Razgatlioglu claimed victory in Race One in Portimao after a thrilling race.

WorldSBK Round 11 Portimao 02.10.2021 Picture courtesy of arubi,it Ducati

Superpole saw Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim top spot with an unbeaten lap of 1:40.219, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT) 2nd and Haslam (HRC Honda) in 3rd. The WorldSBK show would be bidding farewell to Europe after this weekend of racing ahead of the international races in Argentina and Indonesia.

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot into turn 1, but he gets mugged by Jonathan Rea straight away after drifting wide.  All the while Scott Redding (aruba.it Ducati) now in third is watching the action unfold in front of him. It is Razgatlioglu, followed by Rea in 2nd, Redding 3rd, Haslam 4th, Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 5th and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 6th.

With 19 laps to go, Razgatlioglu again drifts wide into a corner, opening the door for Rea, who doesn’t hesitate and dives up the inside. Toprak is having none of it and forces his way up the inside of Rea the next corner, the two riders coming together and swapping paint. Only lap 2 and the “red mist” has already descended on these two title contenders, the action really heating up now.

WorldSBK Round 11 Portimao 02.10.2021 Picture courtesy of arubi,it Ducati

With 18 laps to go, Redding puts in a fastest lap of 1:41.719, the pace of the front three already distancing Haslam and the group behind. Rea tries the same move on Razgatlioglu, this time making it stick to take the lead. Now it is the turn of Redding, who uses the slipstream of the two bikes in front to power past both of them into turn 1 and take over the lead for the first time. It was breathtaking racing and as dramatic as the whole season has been so far.

With 17 laps to go, it is the turn of Rea to put in a new fastest lap of 1:41.645 and he held a gap of 1.6 to Haslam behind in fourth. Further back it was Rinaldi 5th, Locatelli 6th, Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 7th and Baz (go Eleven Ducati) 8th, (still riding for the injured Chaz Davies. )

Rea then moves from 3rd to take the lead; both Redding and Razgatlioglu had gone wide in the previous corners and Rea was looking fired up. And then into the high speed turn 15, huge drama as Rea loses the front of his Kawasaki at around 150 MPH, viciously sending it cartwheeling down the track and into the gravel. Amazingly he gets back onto his feet, very lucky to walk away from a scary crash seemingly unhurt.

With 13 laps to go, Redding and Razgatlioglu had continued to pull away from the rest, the gap now at 4 seconds, There was now a large group of five riders who were all battling it out for 3rd. It was Haslam 3rd, Rinaldi 4th, Locatelli 5th, Baz 6th, Gerloff 7th, Bautista (HRC Honda) 8th and vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) 9th.

A lap later, Bautista, again as in Jerez, was showing great pace late on and had moved up to 6th.

With 10 laps to go, Razgatlioglu makes his move on Redding into turn 1, coming from a long way out and out brakes the Ducati rider. Toprak looks to have the pace to push on further, while Redding looks to just be hanging on.

Shortly thereafter into turn 5, Locatelli runs into the back of vd Mark, taking them both out. The Dutchman was understandably furious as he was making good progress.

Into the final four now, and Redding has closed right onto the back of Razgatlioglu, but he can’t find a way past the Turkish rider on the brakes. He would have to find another option to have any chance of the win.

Last lap and Toprak now held a gap of 0.3 to Redding, but could he hold off the charging Ducati behind? Meanwhile further back it was Bautista and Baz fighting it out for 3rd.

WorldSBK Round 11 Portimao 02.10.2021 Picture courtesy of arubi,it Ducati

Razgatlioglu crosses the line to take the win, holding off Redding who takes 2nd, Baz 3rd, after Bautista crashes into the last corner. Rinaldi 4th, Haslam 5th, Gerloff 6th and Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) 7th.

Top Five Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Baz (go Eleven Ducati)
  4. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati)
  5. Haslam (HRC Honda)

Out: Rea, vd Mark, Bautista, Epis (Kawasaki), Ruiu

Top three championship Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 474
  2. Rea – 429
  3. Redding – 395

 

Injured Fernandez claims fifth victory of 2021

Spain’s Raul Fernandez took the fifth win of his rookie Moto2 season, despite undergoing surgery during the week for a broken bone in his right hand after a training incident.

2021 MVDS team during the 2021 Season of World Motorcycle Championship 2021 race 13 GP of Aragon in Motorland de Aragon, Alcaniz Spain © 2021 mirco lazzari mircolazzari@yahoo.it

Round 13 of the 2021 Moto2 season took us to the Motorland circuit in Aragon, and the weight of expectation sat firmly on the shoulders of Britain’s Sam Lowes. Holder of several Moto2 track records including most wins, most pole starts, best race lap and all time lap record, plus winning here in 2020, history seemed set to repeat itself after he qualified in pole position.

But it wasn’t meant to be. Fernandez, starting from 3rd place on the grid, passed his teammate Remy Gardner on the first lap to move up into 2nd and on lap 2 passed Lowes to take the lead. Doubts lingered over whether Raul would be able to maintain the blistering pace, but he held on to first place for the remainder of the race, with Lowes remaining comfortably in second until crashing out at turn 7 on lap 13. Fernandez crossed the finish line over 7 seconds ahead of 2nd place Gardner.

2021 MVDS team during the 2021 Season of World Motorcycle Championship 2021 race 13 GP of Aragon in Motorland de Aragon, Alcaniz Spain © 2021 mirco lazzari mircolazzari@yahoo.it

Tyre options for the weekend were medium or supersoft, with the vast majority of the field opting for the latter. Tyre preservation was a concern, and potentially a factor in the high rate of attrition, with crashes including Dalla Porta on lap 8, Lowes on lap 13, Bezzecchi on lap 10, Bulega on lap 18 and Chantra on lap 19, all fortunately escaping uninjured.

Gardner found himself in a battle for 3rd with Ai Ogura and Hector Garzo; on lap 5 he managed to gain and hold onto the place, with Garzo crashing out shortly after. Ogura dropped back to 7th place after being passed by Aron Canet and Marco Bezzecchi, and eventually finished 8th, even despite Bezzecchi crashing out on the corkscrew on lap 10.

The fight for third place then raged between Jorge Navarro, Aron Canet & Augusto Fernandez, swapping back and forth, with Augusto finally crossing the line 1.5 seconds behind second place Gardner.

2021 MVDS team during the 2021 Season of World Motorcycle Championship 2021 race 13 GP of Aragon in Motorland de Aragon, Alcaniz Spain © 2021 mirco lazzari mircolazzari@yahoo.it

Next weekend takes us to the San Marino Grand Prix, with Gardner maintaining his lead at the top of the championship with 251 points, 39 points ahead of second place Raul Fernandez. This weekend’s non-finishes for Bezzecchi and Lowes mean that the gap is widening between the Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates and the rest of the championship, but with five rounds still to go, what further surprises lie in store?

First fifteen riders:

1              Raul Fernandez SPA – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 25 points

2              Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 20

3              Augusto Fernandez SPA – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 16

4              Jorge Navarro SPA – Lightech Speed Up – 13

5              Aron Canet SPA – Aspar Team Moto2 – 11

6              Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 10

7              Fermín Aldeguer SPA – +Ego Speed Up – 9

8              Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 8

9              Tony Arbolino ITA Liqui Moly Intact GP – 7

10           Simone Corsi ITA – MV Agusta Forward Racing – 6

11           Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact GP – 5

12           Marcos Ramirez                SPA – American Racing – 4

13           Joe Roberts USA – Italtrans Racing Team                – 3

14           Cameron Beaubier USA – American Racing – 2

15           Celestino Vietti ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 1

Round 7 WorldSBK Navarra, Spain, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race finished an exact copy of race 1 with Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) taking the win, followed by 2nd Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)., and 3rd Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha).

wsbk
WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

Race 2 saw track temperatures rising to nearly 50 degrees celsius., with riders deciding on a wide range of tyre options. Redding choosing a softer front tyre, while Rea and Razgatlioglu opted for a harder tyre. Could Redding make it a clean sweep of wins at Navarra?

After a delayed start, it was lights out and Redding with another quick fire blast off the line, again got the hole shot, great start. The same couldn’t be said for Rea who slipped back to 5th from his 2nd on grid.

The gloves were definitely off with Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) slicing his way from nowhere briefly taking the lead from a stunned Redding before then going wide into a corner to concede the lead back to Redding.

Starting lap 2 and it stood: 1st Redding, 2nd Locatelli, 3rd Razgatlioglu, 4th Rea, 5th Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team), 6th Sykes (BMW Motorrad).

Then more drama for Davies (GoEleven Ducati) who was having a miserable weekend. He lost the front end of his bike into turn 9, subsequently sending it ploughing into the back of Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who found himself helplessly sliding into the gravel. Both riders were out of the race.

wsbk
WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

Onto lap 3 and Razgatlioglu, showing impressive speed, gets through on Redding to take the lead. Then it’s the turn of Rea, who cuts under Redding into the hairpin corner to take 2nd. As in race 1 this trio was again pulling clear of the rest.

The northern Irishman had his sights on the Turk, and wasn’t letting him escape, setting a new fastest lap of 1:37.609. Meanwhile Redding was looking like he was struggling to match the pace and was slipping further back.

Further down the field it was the BMW team mates of Sykes and Vd Mark in 5th and 6th respectively, with Lowes in 7th and Bautista (Honda HRC) further back in 10th.

With 15 laps to go, Lowes comes through on Vd Mark into turn 15 to take 6th.

Rea was closing in on Razgatlioglu, but looked like he was really struggling with front end chatter, the bike visibly bouncing into some corners. Rea held a gap of 0.5 to Redding in 3rd.

With 11 laps to go, Razgatlioglu had a gap of 0.5 to Rea in 2nd. Meanwhile Redding had found something, and was now right within striking distance of Rea.

Nine laps to go and Razgatlioglu found a second wind and was pulling clear of Rea, pushing the gap out to 1.0. Meanwhile Honda continued their poor weekend, with Haslam (Honda HRC) sending his bike sliding in a shower of sparks into the gravel. He cut a dejected figure trudging back.

Rea was really under pressure from Redding now and only had a gap 0.3 to the Ducati. The pressure was telling with Rea losing the front end, but as he had in race 1, he somehow managed to save it. Rea was fighting the Kawasaki into the corners and subsequently went wide, letting Redding through.

Redding now had his sights firmly on the Yamaha but with only 3 laps left could he catch Razgatlioglu who was looking comfortable, and held a 1.0 advantage.

Last lap and Razgatlioglu was holding his nerve keeping Redding at bay. He crosses the line to deny Redding a hat trick of wins, Redding getting 2nd while Rea crossed further down in 3rd.

wsbk
WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

Amazingly enough, the result means there is a two way tie for the lead of the championship between Rea and Razgatlioglu. Surely this season will come down to the wire. Expect more fireworks!

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Redding (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Sykes (BMW Motorrad)

Riders out: Davies (GoEleven Ducati), Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), Uramoto (Suzuki), Haslam (Honda HRC).

Championship top 3:

  1. Rea 311 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu 311
  3. Redding 273

 

 

Moto2: Dark clouds loom over the Austrian Alps

And so Moto2 returns after the five week summer break with Round 10, the Styrian Grand Prix, high in the Austrian Alps, and Sunday’s race certainly brought plenty of ups and downs.

Moto2
Pic courtesy of marcvds Racing Team

All eyes were on the weather over the weekend, with dark clouds looming over practice and qualifying. The rain stayed away and the race was declared dry, but away from the racing line the track remained damp and greasy.

Before Sunday’s race Australia’s Remy Gardner led the championship on 184 points, his Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate Raul Fernandez 2nd with 153, Bezzecchi 3rd on 128, Britain’s Sam Lowes 4th on 99, and Fabio Di Giannantonio 5th with 73.

During free practice news broke that Raul Fernandez will be moving up to MotoGP next season, to join his current teammate Remy Gardner at KTM, but did the unfortunate timing of the announcement impact on Fernandez’s performance?

For only the second time this season, neither of Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates made an appearance on the podium. Remy Gardner started from pole, and his teammate Raul Fernandez on the 2nd row in 4th after a frustrating qualifying.

It looked as though Sunday would be Japanese rookie Ai Ogura’s time to shine, as he briefly held pole position during qualifying. He was pipped at the post by Gardner, but claimed his first front row start of the season in second, with Italy’s Marco Bezzecchi making up the front row in 3rd. Alongside Raul Fernandez on the second row were Aron Canet in 5th and Augusto Fernandez 6th. On the third row, Britain’s Sam Lowes started 7th, Lorenzo dalla Porta 8th, and Somkiat Chandra 9th.

Gardner briefly led the opening lap before being passed by Bezzecchi, and his attempt to reclaim the lead was foiled by running wide, also allowing teammate Raul Fernandez through. Ogura dropped back to 5th, and the next few laps saw Gardner retaking the lead, Aron Canet up into second, the pair of them pulling ahead of Bezzecchi and Raul Fernandez who were battling for 3rd. On lap 6 Fernandez ran very wide into turn 9, dropping down to 7th place, Ai Ogura moving back up into 4th, and Gardner and Canet stretching out to almost a second ahead of 3rd place Bezzecchi.

On lap 11 Ogura posted the fastest lap of the race and looked set for the first podium finish of his rookie Moto2 season, but after incurring a late penalty for exceeding track limits ended up by crossing the line in 5th. After completing the race it was announced that Ogura had been penalised a further 3 seconds for exceeding track limits during the long lap penalty. Despite this he finished far enough ahead of 6th place Celestino Vietti to hold on to the position.

Lap 20 saw an uncharacteristic error from Gardner, late on the brakes into turn 1 and running into the gravel to avoid the back wheel of Bezzecchi. He managed to keep the bike upright and rejoined in 5th.

Marco Bezzecchi of SKY Racing Team VR46 held onto the lead to claim his first win of the season, despite pressure from Spain’s Aron Canet who finished second, and the 3rd podium spot was claimed by Augusto Fernandez, celebrating his second podium in as many races. Remy Gardner crossed the line in 4th, and Raul Fernandez finished 7th, the worst finish of his rookie Moto2 season. Despite moving up to 5th on lap 4, Britain’s Sam Lowes had a difficult race, but still managed to finish within the points in 14th.

Moto2
Pic courtesy of marcvds Racing Team

The top five positions in the championship remain the same – Gardner increases his lead from 31 to 35 points ahead of second place Raul Fernandez. Bezzecchi, in third, closes the gap on Fernandez from 25 to 9 points, with fourth place Lowes trailing by 52 points, and Italy’s Fabio Di Giannantonio in 5th, 25 points behind Lowes.

Sunday 15th August sees the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring. Can Ai Ogura make up for his disappointment and claim a podium spot? Will the Ajo Red Bull team return to form? And can Bezzecchi leapfrog Raul Fernandez on the championship table?

First fifteen riders:

1              Marco Bezzecchi ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 25 points

2              Aron Canet SPA – Aspar Team Moto2 – 20

3              Augusto Fernandez SPA – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 16

4              Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 13

5              Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 11

6              Celestino Vietti ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 10

7              Raul Fernandez SPA – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 9 points

8              Somkiat Chantra THA – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 8

9              Xavi Vierge SPA – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 7

10           Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact GP – 6

11           Jake Dixon GBR – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 5

12           Lorenzo Dalla Porta ITA – Italtrans Racing Team – 4

13           Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 3

14           Sam Lowes GBR                – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 2

15           Albert Arenas SPA – Aspar Team Moto2 – 1

 

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