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Flexbox HP 40’s Lorenzo Baldassarri had to fight off huge last lap pressure from the returning Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) to take Moto2™ victory at the VisitQatar Grand Prix.
The Italian lead from lap two but had to ride brilliantly in the final sector of the last lap to hold off a swarming Lüthi, eventually taking the chequered flag just 0.026 of a second clear of the Swiss rider.
As the lights went out it was Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who took the holeshot from the middle of the front row of the grid whilst carnage ensued behind. Debutant Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46), Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) and Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) all crashing out at Turn 1 before Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Marco Bezzechi crashed out of his debut ride at Turn 6.
Baldassarri blasted his way past Vierge on lap two before slowly but surely beginning to build up an advantage over the chasing pack. Despite taking the holeshot, Vierge started to slip backwards, dropping from second to fifth inside four corners on lap seven. Dynavolt Intact GP´s Marcel Schrötter, Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and his EG 0,0 Marc VDS teammate Alex Marquez all making their way past the Catalan.
Lüthi then got in on the act, fighting his way through to fifth place before setting back-to-back lap records around the Losail International Circuit to close in onto the back of Marquez before quickly disposing of the Moto2™ veteran. The Kalex man then jumped into third place past Australian Gardner with six laps remaining and set up a grandstand finish by catching and passing teammate Schrötter with four laps left.
Round 1: Moto2™ VisitQatar Grand Prix
The former MotoGP™ man had 0.821 to pull in to catch Baldassarri at the front of the race and with just a lap left, he had managed to cut that advantage down to nothing and was all over the rear of the Italian's Kalex. Baldassarri held off Lüthi’s charge for three-quarters of the lap but Lüthi looked favourite going into the final sector, applying huge pressure to the man who finished second at Qatar this time last year. Somehow, Baldassarri’s defensive riding was enough to keep Luthi at bay and as the pair exited the final Turn 16 they were side-by-side with Baldassarri holding on by just 0.026 of a second to take victory.
Gardner stole third place from Schrötter on the final lap, but the German slipstreamed his way past the Australian to take the final step on the box by two thousandths of a second, completing a Dynovolt Intact GP double podium finish. Flexbox HP 40’s Augusto Fernandez came from row four of the grid to take fifth place, narrowly ahead of Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2).
Marquez eventually had to settle for seventh, over two seconds clear of SKY Racing Team VR46’s Luca Marini in a lonely eighth place. Italtrans Racing Team’s Enea Bastianini was one of the rides of the day to take ninth on his Moto2™ debut fighting off Vierge, who slipped down to tenth after a strong start.
A nail-biting start to a new era in Moto2™ with Baldassarri collecting a commemorative first Triumph-powered race win trophy alongside his VisitQatar Grand Prix race winner prize. With a plethora of riders showing their potential this weekend, it’s anyone’s guess who’ll collect 25 points in Argentina.
1. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP40)
2. Tom Lüthi - (Dynavolt Intact GP) - +0.026
3. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) - +2.123
4. Remy Gardner - (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) - +2.125
5. Augusto Fernández (FlexBox HP40)- +2.305
6. Sam Lowes - (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) - +3.334
7. Álex Márquez - (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) - +5.018
8. Luca Marini - (Sky Racing Team VR46) - +7.336
9. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) - +12.949
10. Xavi Vierge - (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) - +13.865
Click here for the full results!
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