2 years ago
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Italtrans Racing Team's Enea Bastianini produced perfection again in order to claim his second lights-to-flag victory in as many races at the Monster Energy Czech Republic Grand Prix. The Italian was placed under pressure throughout the race by EG 0,0 Marc VDS' Sam Lowes but the Briton eventually had to settle for second, his first trip to a Grand Prix podium since Aragon 2016, and they were joined on the podium by Tennor American Racing's Joe Roberts, a career-first top three finish for the Californian.
Roberts was forced into second off of the line after Bastianini, starting third, got the best jump and took the holeshot. Red Bull KTM Ajo's Jorge Martin was quickly involved in the action after he edged his way past Roberts for second, but it was extremely short-lived as the American replied immediately with a lunge back under the Spaniard. Lowes then began to find his rhythm and in the space of a lap sliced his way past both Martin and Roberts, before setting his sights on Bastianini at the front of the race.
The Italian's pace at the front was simply too much for the vast majority of the grid to live with as gaps started to produce all of the leading contenders: Bastianini 0.9 seconds clear of Lowes, whilst Lowes was now a second clear of Roberts, who himself had managed to dispose of Martin. Despite the top three breaking clear, the fight for fourth place was beginning to hot up with Spanish Grand Prix winner Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) coming through from tenth on the grid to sit at the front of a five rider gaggle also including teammate Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46), Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) and Martin.
13 laps of Brno were now left remaining and Lowes had cut the Andalucia Grand Prix winner's lead to below half a second for the first time. Could the Brit find enough to close onto the tail of the Italtrans Racing man? As the laps ticked by the gap remained constant with Bastianini surely feeling the mounting pressure from the former MotoGP™ man as the chequered flag drew closer. Further back, Fernandez sat up Bezzecchi to take fifth place but the Italian produced an instantaneous reply at Turn 10 and reclaimed the final place inside the top ten.
World Championship leader Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was making some progress of his own after a disappointing Saturday, squeezing through on Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) for eleventh place. Five laps now left and 'The Beast' showed his teeth for the first time, finding something extra in the closing stages to stretch his lead out to three-quarters of a second. That then became a whole second as the duo crossed the line to leave two laps left and Bastianini was now well and truly on course to becoming only the fifth Italian to score back-to-back Moto2™ victories.
Lowes suddenly halved the 22-year-old's lead on the final lap and a dramatic finish was potentially on the cards but it never materialised and Bastianini took the chequered flag and with it the Moto2™ World Championship lead. Lowes officially put to bed one of the most difficult periods in his career as he jumped back onto the box for the first time in four years. Then, the podium was completed by Roberts, who put in a lonely but sensible ride in order to take a career first Grand Prix podium and became the first American since John Kocinski in 1993 to stand on an intermediate class rostrum.
Fourth went to Marini and, after starting tenth on the grid, the Italian was rightly greeted by delight as he returned the VR46 garage. Those 13 points helped him stay to second in the World Championship, now 15 points adrift of the leader. Fernandez eventually got the better of Bezzecchi late on to take the final place inside the top five, with Navarro ahead of Martin in the fight for seventh. Completing the top was Openbank Aspar Team's Hafizh Syahrin and Aron Canet.
1. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team)
2. Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 0.423
3. Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) + 5.948
4. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 8.797
5. Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 9.392
6. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 10.306
7. Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) + 10.575
8. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 11.366
9. Hafizh Syahrin (Openbank Aspar Team) + 12.875
10. Aron Canet (Openbank Aspar Team) + 14.266
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