Rookie Fernandez Takes Second Win of the Season

All eyes were on the weather this weekend at Le Mans, with the 2.6 mile Bugatti circuit plagued by changeable conditions during qualifying. Saturday saw plenty of yellow flags, with damp patches catching out many. However, the weather improved enough overnight for Sunday to be declared a dry race.

At the start of the weekend only 6 points separated the top 3 in the championship, with Remy Gardner leading on 69 points, and Sam Lowes second with 66. Raul Fernandez, in his rookie season in Moto2, rounded out the top 3 on 63 points, after gaining victory in the third race of the season in Portugal.

Lowes went into the weekend having won the first two races of the season, at Qatar and Doha, and race 4 in Spain saw Fabio Di Giannantonio on the top step of the podium.

Another one to watch this weekend was the Brit Jake Dixon, who came so close to winning at Le Mans last year only to crash out four laps from the finish.

Sam Lowes started strong, setting the fastest lap in FP2 on the Friday, with just over a 10th off the outright lap record but it was Raul Fernandez who emerged victorious in qualifying, setting the fastest qualifying lap at 1’50.135 to gain his maiden pole in Moto2.

Bezzecchi, whose fastest lap was only 0.240 behind Fernandez, lined up second on the grid, and third was Joe Roberts, who had started from pole at Le Mans in 2020.

Lowes was nudged further down the order, starting from the fourth row of the grid in 10th place, and Jake Dixon was way back in 26th.

Bezzecchi made the best start off the line and led from the outset, R Fernandez taking second, and the American Joe Roberts in third.

Aron Canet, starting 4th, briefly moved up into 2nd, before crashing out at the Chemin ux Boeufs esses.

Lowes went out on the fifth lap, attempting to overtake into turn 8, catching a damp spot and collecting Vierge, resulting in Lowes retiring, unable to restart his machine.

Joe Roberts also left the race on lap 5, losing the front end at turn 9 and heading into the gravel.

Meanwhile at the front, Fernandez caught Bezzecchi and moved up into the lead, remaining there for the rest of the race.

Having dropped down the order early on, Remy Gardner worked his way back up, putting in the fastest lap of the race at 1’36.893.

By lap 16, Gardner was back up into 3rd and starting to close the gap. Bezzecchi runs slightly deep and onto the green paint beyond the track limits, and Gardner seized his chance to move up into 2nd.

Again, as on Saturday, the dark clouds started to gather, raising the possibility of the race being cut short, but the rain held off long enough to complete the full race distance.

Gardner can’t quite catch his teammate, with Fernandez maintaining nearly a one second lead to win the second Moto2 race in his rookie season. Gardner finishes a comfortable second, resulting in a team Red Bull KTM Ajo one-two on the podium. Bezzecchi takes the third spot, with Arbolino less than 3 seconds behind him in fourth.

Fabio Di Giannantonio, winner of the previous Moto2 race two weeks ago in Spain, finishes 8th and Jake Dixon is well off the pace, finishing 19th.

The weekend comes to an end with the championship even closer – Remy Gardner holds onto his lead with 89 points, but Fernandez is breathing down his neck with 88, and Marco Bezzecchi moves up into third with 72. Sam Lowes, his 66 points unchanged after a difficult weekend, moves down to fourth.

This leaves Lowes with plenty of work to do going into the 6th round at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello in 2 weeks time. All eyes will be on the rookie Raul Fernandez, with Gardner facing a battle on his hands to keep hold of that top spot in the championship.

First fifteen riders:

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

2 Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull Ajo KTM – 20

3 Marco Bezzecchi ITA – Sky Racing Team VR46 – 16

4 Tony Arbolino ITA – Liqui Moly Intact GP – 13

5 Bo Bendsneyer NED – Pertamina SAG – 11

6 Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact – 10

7 Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 9

8 Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini – 8

9 Simone Corsi ITA – MV Agusta Forward Racing – 7

10 Jorge Navarro SPA – MB Conveyors Speed Up – 6

11 Lorenzo Dalla Porta ITA – Italtrans Racing Team – 5

12 Somkiat Chantra THA – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 4

13 Nicolo Bulega ITA – Federal Oil Gresini – 3

14 Marcos Ramirez SPA – American Racing – 2

15 Albert Arenas SPA – Inde Aspar Team – 1

Moto3 Report: Youngest Race Winner Romps To Final Victory

It was a whirlwind end to the 2018 season, and it definitely wasn’t predictable – Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) was reserved and measured, John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) managed to step onto the podium and a relatively unknown 15-year-old won the race. Not your run of the mill race!

Can Oncu, Moto3, Valencia MotoGP 2018. Photo curtesy of Red Bull KTM Ajo

This race belonged to one man, and his fight for first place didn’t involve the usual competitors either – his name is Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and he left a rather big impression on Moto3 today. Starting as a wildcard rider, the youngster only managed to secure his place in the race because he won the Red Bull Rookies’ Cup and after qualifying fourth, it’s safe to say he dominated from very early on before taking Turkey’s first ever podium.

However, the race wasn’t as simple as Oncu romping to victory – Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrustelGP) crashed out of second place and Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) had a mini high side which ripped first place from him.

The weather played a big part in the race, with 98 crashes taking place before the Moto3 race had even started and it’s safe to say many dashed hopes during the race too. Bezzecchi crashed twice (on the second crash both Redox PrustelGP bikes slide into the gravel trap), ending any chance of beating Fabio di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) to second place in the Championship, but that didn’t stop him trying. Rather foolishly, the Italian carried on riding even though his livery was badly damaged and scraping along the track – he pitted but his team only clipped the bodywork back in and he re-joined the race. But his misfortune didn’t end there, Oncu actually lapped him as the youngest rode away with what could have been his podium finish.

Marco Bezzecchi. Photo curtesy of Redox PrustelGP

Oncu didn’t just lap Bezzecchi though, he also lapped Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), his teammate for the race who had slide out of the race and re-joined too. Spectacular racing came from Arbolino who held his lead very well and is arguably the only person who could have stopped Oncu’s hunt for first place. McPhee also seemed to find something in himself and didn’t cecum to the wet weather condition, which due to a considerable ack of right-hand corners and cold tyres meant that many fell prey to it.

Di Giannantonio’s securing of second place in the Championship made it a Gresini 1-2 but you’d be forgiven for not noticing that due to the fanfare of Oncu’s race win. Arguably, the likes of Martin and di Giannantonio will be glad that they don’t have to race against such a talented and capable rider. Oncu, who snatched the record for youngest race winner away from Scott Redding on his final race weekend in MotoGP, and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) who finished in a respectable tenth in his first really wet race in Moto3, will be dominant next year and they’ve arrived just in time for the changing of the guards.