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20 days ago
By motogp.com

Bastianini clinches debut Moto2™ victory

After 22 years, Italy has a podium lock-out in the intermediate class as Marini and Bezzecchi joined their compatriot on the rostrum

Italtrans Racing Team's Enea Bastianini is back on top of a Grand Prix podium for the first time in two years after the Italian clinched a debut Moto2™ victory at the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucia. The Italian had some familiar company on the podium with him in the form of SKY Racing Team VR46's Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi to make it an all Italian top three in the intermediate class for the first time since the Imola Grand Prix in 1998.

Bezzecchi took the holeshot from pole position but the only held the lead for half a lap after Bastianini made a brave dive up the inside at Turn 6 to steal it away. Bezzecchi then didn't hold second for even half a lap after his teammate Marini squeezed through just three turns later in order to try and stop Bastianini escaping early on. The Italtrans Racing Team man eeked out a comfortable advantage of about three or four tenths as he began to embark on unchartered territory, leading a Moto2™ race for the very first time in his career.

Further back Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) lunged up the inside of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) at Turn 6 for fifth place, but the Spaniard ran wide and allowed last week’s podium finisher back through. Thanks to the Spaniard's squabbling over fifth place, second, third and fourth in the running, Marini, Bezzecchi and EG 0,0 Marc VDS' Sam Lowes, opened out a second and could focus on cementing a podium place.

Navarro then got through on Martin, again at Turn 6, but yellow flags were waving due to Kasma Daniel (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) picking his bike out of the gravel after an off a lap earlier. As a result, the Speed Up man was forced to hand a place back but did so in a pretty smooth manner, running wide at Turn 13 on purpose before then squeezing back in behind Aron Canet (Openbank Aspar Team Moto2), who in the meantime had battled his way through to fifth.

Back at the front and Bastianini’s gap was at 0.8 seconds with 17 laps to go but last week’s race winner Marini suddenly found his groove, halving that advantage in just a lap. The SKY Racing Team VR46 rider then sat in behind his compatriot with now 15 laps remaining, looking like a lion ready to pounce on its tea. In that battle for a top five finish, Navarro then crashed out at Turn 9 and threw away sixth place. It resulted in the Spaniard being forced to dejectedly walk away from Jerez with zero points.

As the laps ticked away, the pressure built on Bastianini and it looked like he'd cracked after running ever so slightly wide at Turn 8. Marini was suddenly glued to his rear wheel but wasn’t able to pounce on the slight error. 12 laps remaining and Marini had his biggest look up the inside of the number 33, showing his front wheel but not just yet managing to squeeze through. Further back and the World Championship leader Tetsuta Nagashima's (Red Bull KTM Ajo) salvage job continued, diving past former teammate Remy Gardner to go 11th after starting 15th on the grid.

Seven laps to go and Bastianini pulled the pin suddenly moving a second clear, which then became 1.5 seconds a lap later. Was it Bastianini making one final push towards victory or was it Marini accepting 20 points after collecting 25 last week, who knows but it was enough to help Bastianini to within touching distance of a maiden victory. No issues in the closing stages and the chequered flag was Bastianini's, eventually coming across the line 2.1 seconds ahead of Marini. And for the first time since 1998, in a race won by Valentino Rossi, Italy had a podium lock-out after Bezzecchi joined his VR46 teammate on the box but not before knocking him whilst celebrating.

Lowes was less than a second behind the former Moto3™ title challenger when they came across the line and again had to take fourth place seven days after finishing in the same position. The final place inside the top five went to rookie Canet, again impressing many with his performance. Martin was sixth, a week after enjoying his podium of the season, two seconds clear of Liqui Moly Intact GP's Tom Luthi in seventh.

The fight for eighth went right down to the wire with Nagashima the man to lose out at the final corner after running wide. Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) emerged out of that gaggle of riders at the front, before Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) and Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) clinched the final top ten spots. Nagahima's 11th place finish moved him onto 50 points in the World Championship and it's enough to hold onto the lead heading into Brno, but only by three points now with Bastianini's race win moving the 22-year-old into title contention.

Top 10:
 1. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team)
 2. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 2.153
 3. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 3.243
 4. Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 3.817
 5. Aron Canet (Openbank Aspar Team Moto3) + 9.155
 6. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 11.988
 7. Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 13.857
 8. Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 19.590
 9. Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) + 20.199
 10. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 20.262

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