Moto2™ half season review – Excitement, action and controversy

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Monday, 6 August 2012

In only its third season the Moto2™ class continues to impress and provide spectators with some of the closest and toughest fought battles in Grand Prix racing. As the intermediate class takes its summer break, motogp.com takes a look back at the action-packed first half of the season.

Under the floodlights in Qatar the season started with a bang as the pre-season favourites were scrapping it out from the start. Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez had recovered from his double-vision problem in time to fight out a hard fought battle for the first win of the season, where he held off the charging Andrea Iannone, on board his Speed Master machine, until the bitter end. Márquez’s victory was however not without controversy as a hard move down the home straight pushed Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi wide and cost him the fight for the podium. The Spaniard was not reprimanded for the move, yet was unofficial told to avoid such manoeuvres in the future.

The Moto2™ grid did not settle down as the European rounds began at Jerez, as a race-long fight at the front was only decided once the skies opened towards the end of the race. Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Pol Espargaró had taken Márquez for the lead just over a lap before the race was stopped, and was awarded his first win of the season. Lüthi took the final step on the podium to claw back some of the points he lost in Qatar, to keep the championship tight at the top.

As the pack headed to Estoril it was much the same as Márquez took victory ahead of Espargaró and Lüthi. It was however JiR Moto2’s French rookie Johann Zarco who stole the show, as he recorded his best ever Moto2 result of fourth in just his third race. He had already topped some of the wet Jerez practice sessions the week before, and was announcing himself as a rider to be reckoned with this season.

Le Mans threw the first big spanner into the works for the Moto2 championship, as torrential downpours saw many of the top contenders struggle or crash out. Lüthi however put in a faultless display to take victory, ahead of Italtrans Racing Team’s Claudio Corti and Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding. For Corti this was his first-ever Grand Prix Podium, while Redding halted a 22-race non-podium dry spell. The race was marked with many crashes, including those of Márquez and Zarco, yet will most fondly be remembered by Blusens Avintia’s Julián Simón pushing his bike across the finish line because of a bike fault.

Catalunya threw up the first bit of real controversy in the Moto2 season. In a frantic battle at the front, Márquez momentarily lost control of his bike, and collided with Espargaró as he re-joined the racing line. Espargaró subsequently crashed and injured his ankle, whilst Márquez finished third to collect valuable points. After an initial penalty handed out by Race Direction for the incident, the FIM Stewards overturned the ruling on Márquez after an appeal by his team. This went the FIM CDI for final appeal by the Pons team, which ruled that the reversal of Márquez’s penalty stands. The race was won by Iannone who put in a tremendous performance to hold off an in-form Lüthi.

Espargaró, who put on a positive face after the incident, was quick to make his intentions clear as Moto2 headed to Silverstone. The Spaniard dominated almost all weekend and clawed back some points on his rival with a stunning win. Local rider Redding used the home crowd to his advantage as he came out on top in a last lap battle with Márquez, who completed the podium. He looked as if he would follow this up in Assen, yet crashed out whilst pushing too hard in the first lap. This left Márquez, Iannone and Redding to take the top spots, whilst NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis made an appearance in fifth after switching from a Suter to an FTR chassis.

A week later at the Sachsenring, Márquez looked to have truly found his stride as he romped to his fourth victory of the season, after Iannone crashed out of the race whilst leading. Marc VDS’ Mika Kallio and De Angelis both put in terrific rides to secure their first podiums of the 2012 season. However, the performance of the race went to Espargaró, who after qualifying in 17th, fought his way to fourth despite some big wobbles out on track.

The last race before the summer break at Mugello saw Italian Iannone please the home crowd with a victory, hunting down and then holding off the challenge of Espargaró. Lüthi was once again in the mix, but a mistake late on meant he had to hold off the challenge from Tech 3 Racing’s Bradley Smith. Márquez hadn’t looked comfortable on his bike all weekend and finished fifth. There had been near drama in the preceding practice on Saturday as Zarco took out Espargaró in turn one. The Spaniard was luckily not hurt seriously, yet the Frenchman was docked 15 qualifying positions, which put paid to his first front row start of the season, after setting the third fastest time on Saturday afternoon.

Heading into the summer pause Márquez leads the championship standings with 163 points, well clear of points-even Iannone and Espargaró with 129 each. Yet the Spaniard will undoubtedly not be resting on his laurels, as he knows just how tight and unpredictable the series will be for the second half of the season. Watch all the highlights of the races so far on motogp.com!

TAGS 2012

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