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16 days ago
By motogp.com

Five points split the top three in Moto2™

It’s the tightest of all three championships, Zarco, Rins and Lowes trading wins as they fight it out for the 2016 crown.

Recent years have seen the likes of Marc Marquez, Tito Rabat and Johann Zarco run away with the Moto2™ World Championship title, a clear favourite usually apparent by this time. But the middleweight class is back to its most exciting in 2016, five points splitting the top three on the eve of the GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland. Throw the likes of Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) into the mix and there’s no chance of the championship battle cooling off anytime soon.

Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) arrives in Germany as the championship leader. He and Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) are tied on 126 points, the French rider leading thanks to three victories. The last three rounds have seen Zarco emerge as the strongest rider with two wins and a second; closing the 31-point gap he had to the championship leader after a tough weekend in France. The French rider has twice finished second at the Sachsenring, first in 2011 in the 125cc class and again in 2015 on his way to the Moto2™ World Championship title. Momentum is clearly on Zarco’s side, will he keep the ball rolling in Germany?

On four occasions in 2016 Rins has been unable to qualifying in the top five, only once able to recover for a podium finish. The German GP in 2015 saw Rins line up outside the top ten on the grid, going on to take third place. This stands as the only time he has achieved a podium from outside the top ten in the Moto2™ class. He’s never finished lower than eighth in 2016, but with Zarco back to his best the Spaniard is going to need to hit the top three consistently. He’s twice taken to the podium in Germany, his second Grand Prix victory coming at the Sachsenring in 2013, followed by his Moto2™ podium in 2015.

Five points back on the leading duo is Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), the Brit having taken the podium in fifty per cent of the races in 2016. Lowes will move up to the MotoGP™ World Championship in 2017 and got his first taste of the Aprilia RS-GP he will ride during a private test in Misano. The day went well but now it’s time to focus on the task at hand: taking the Moto2™ title. Even on bad weekends the Brit had been able to slide himself into the top six.

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Worth the wait for Nakagami

One man who could potentially spoiler the championship leaders’ party is Takaaki Nakagami, fresh off his first win and a Suzuka 8 Hour test in Japan. The Japanese rider has a best finish of seventh at the German track but heads there with his first back-to-back podiums since 2013. Bad luck hindered the start of Nakagami's 2016 campaign but he appears to be back in Lady Luck's good books. As 2013 showed, Nakagami is a rider who can fly when he's confident.

The Sachsenring has thrown up some surprises in the past and saw three first time Moto2™ winners between 2013 and 2015, Jordi Torres, Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) and Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) all taking their first, and so far only, Grand Prix wins. Neither Simeon nor Aegerter have been able to find that flash of speed since.

Not only is Moto2™ the tightest championship of all three classes, it also boasts the most German riders. Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) are all out for home glory. Of the three, Folger has had the most success in 2016, two podiums and 63 points putting him in seventh overall. But Cortese is the most successful at the Sachsenring, taking third in the 2010 125cc race and winning the inaugural Moto3™ race at the circuit in 2012. Expect a tough battle for top German honours.

Relive the dramatic Moto2™ race from Assen below!

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Highlights: Nakagami takes first victory in red-flagged race

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