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19 days ago
By motogp.com

Marini holds off mounting Nagashima pressure for Moto2™ win

The Italian had to hold off the Championship leader in a tense final few laps to take a fourth career win and a third in seven races

SKY Racing Team VR46's Luca Marini clinched an impressive victory at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España after holding off a charging Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in the final half of the race. The Italian took the chequered flag for a fourth career Moto2™ win and his third in seven races, whilst Nagashima was on the podium once more after His Qatar GP win, joined this time by teammate Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo).

Poleman Martin took the holeshot, with impressive rookie Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team Moto2) moving into second from row two of the grid. However, it was a nightmare start for HDR Heidrun Speed Up's Jorge Navarro as the Spaniard crashed out on the exit of Turn 1 after a firm touch from Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46). Further down the field, there were some elbows from Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) down the start-finish in fourth and fifth at end of lap one.

At the end of lap two, Marini started to make his way to the front, first moving past Canet for second place. But World Championship leader Nagashima was keen to not let the Italian get the jump on him and he quickly follwed him through into third place and, as a result, the rookie was nudged back to fourth. Marini hit the front with 20 laps to go thanks to an extremely smooth move on Martin through Turn 8 but once again it didn't take long for Nagashima to stay on the tail of Marini by diving past his teammate Martin at the final turn on the very same lap.

Now in the lead, the 22-year-old decided it was time to pull the pin and see if anyone could match his pace. He immediately pulled out a half a second advantage in just one lap as the lead group instantly began to stretch. Marini's increase in pace at the front was simply too much for some behind to live with, as teammate Bezzecchi went down out of third place just moments after squeezing in front of Martin at Turn 8. Then Schrotter crashed out too one lap later, this time out fifth place at Turn 11. It was beginning to turn into a race of attrition in the baking hot, tricky conditions that the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto was throwing up.

13 laps now remaining and questions were beginning to be asked of Marini at the front. Were we starting to see a repeat of Qatar as Nagashima set a new fastest lap of the race and began to signal he had the late-race pace to bring the fight to the Italian at the front. The laps ticked by with Nagashima only managing to close in by half a tenth lap after lap, as Marini responded. However, with six laps remaining Martin was coming under all sorts of pressure from Lowes, with the Brit cutting the gap down to less than a second in the fight for the final podium place.

Nagashima reeled Marini in by 0.439 seconds in a single lap with just five now left and suddenly it looked certain that the fight for the victory was going to ignite in dramatic fashion in the closing stages. But the gap remained at just over a second as the laps ticked by towards the finish and in the end, Nagashima rightly backed off for a comfortable 20 points and a 17 point World Championship lead.

The victory, therefore, went the way of Marini as he restarted his Moto2™ campaign with a vital performance after the disappointment of zero points in Qatar. Meanwhile, the fight for third didn't unfold as expected with Martin coming across the line in third ahead of Lowes in fourth. Canet ended up in fifth after a strong start but nevertheless a solid result for the Spaniard in only his second intermediate class race. He was five seconds clear of teammate Hafizh Syahrin, with the Malaysian enjoying his best performance since returning to the class from MotoGP™.

ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team's Remy Gardner took seventh ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP40), with the Italian unable to make it three consecutive Moto2™ victories in Jerez after success in 2018 and 2019. Completing the top ten were Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing).

Top 10:
 1. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46)
 2. Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 1.271
 3. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 4.838
 4. Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 6.200
 5. Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team Moto2) + 10.794
 6. Hafizh Syahrin (Inde Aspar Team Moto2) + 15.578
 7. Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) + 17.426
 8. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) + 19.416
 9. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) + 19.505
 10. Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 19.590

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