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Zarco and Simeon headline for MotoGP™ in the Superprestigio

Premier class runners lead the charge from tarmac for dirt track – but it’s Di Giannantonio who steals the show

Tags MotoGP, 2018

The biggest name on the entry list for the Superprestigio in 2018 was Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), with the 2017 MotoGP™ Rookie of the Year and two-time Moto2™ Champion returning to the event after a two year absence. Joined by fellow premier class runner in 2018 Xavier Simeon (Reale Avintia Racing), the two put up a good fight on the night – but it was Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) who shone for MotoGP™, coming home top rider from the paddock as the Open category proved a tough field to beat in 2017.

Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) took the win in his first heat, just ahead of Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) – with Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) repping the two strokes but off to a tough start. It was also a tough start for Zarco as ‘Diggia’ won their first heat and the Frenchman came fifth, just behind compatriot Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up Racing). In the end, however, Zarco took the win in the Last Chance Qualifier after some big drama on the last lap, and moved through to the Finals in the Superprestigio category.

In the third and pivotal Superprestigio final with a spot in the Superfinal – also against Open competitors for the overall win – up for grabs, Zarco suffered a fall and lost his chance. Simeon also crashed and was a lap down as Gardner caught the Belgian and the blue flags came out. Moving over a bit late finally allowed Gardner through, and the Aussie on the two-stroke was able to stay ahead and just take the final spot in the Superfinal with the win – joining ‘Diggia’, Toni Elias and Albert Arenas (Aspar Team Moto3) as the fourth man from the Superprestigio category to be heading through.

But when it came to it, the Superfinal saw Open class domination. Reigning Spanish national flattrack Champion Ferran Cardus shot into the lead ahead of Elias before the MotoAmerica champion took over, and JD Beach then got past Cardus to chase down the 2010 Moto2™ Champion. The American hit quick and the two clashed over the start-finish line before Beach pulled away, and Cardus then shot straight through on his compatriot to try and chase Beach down. Second American Briar Bauman was close to Elias behind the two and then pulled an aggressive move on the Spaniard to take over in third at half distance before pushing to try and catch the lead duo, and the flattrack rider caught the two and as the white flag came out to signal it was the final lap. He then pulled a hard move up the inside to make it a 1-2 for the US after the intense battle.

Elias was able to stay well clear of the man in fifth, Di Giannantonio, to take fourth overall – and Albert Arenas crossed the line in sixth. Open category entrant Guillermo Cano took seventh, with Remy Gardner losing out early on the chance to fight for glory on the two-stroke as he fell in the early stages.

After a win for reigning MotoGP™ Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) last year, the glory goes back to the flattrackers in 2017, with the top three in the Superfinal all from the Open category this season, and the trophy heads back over the Atlantic. Fabio Di Giannantonio was the lead rider from the MotoGP™ paddock in fifth, beating off some stiff competition for that honour. Arenas and Gardner made it a top three from the lower categories, with Zarco and Simeon both out before the Superfinal.

Now it’s back to tarmac for most, with the winter break now seeing engines switched off until the first Sepang test at the end of January. 


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