Catch 22: Lowes riding high on the road to Valencia

The Brit has a seven-point advantage in his pocket and a whole load of momentum. But there’s no time for complacency

When he injured himself without even a single lap raced in anger in 2020, Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) likely wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told him he’d be leading the Moto2™ Championship with three races to go. But he is, and he’s the most successful British rider in the class now – arriving into Valencia with a seven-point advantage and three wins on the bounce (the first Brit to do that in the intermediate class since 1971 no less).

So is it now Lowes’ to lose? In some ways, and the Brit has been on an incredible roll. But even more menacing for his rivals than his consistency is the calm, collected way he’s been winning – since bouncing back in style from a key error that gave him a pitlane start back in Misano. From then on, mistakes have been minor and committed when they didn't put a dent in his Sunday.

For the man closest on the chase, Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), it hasn’t been a bad run of late either though. The Italian made his big error of the season at the Red Bull Ring but since leaving Styria has taken a win, a few podiums and only suffered one bigger blip at Le Mans where he came home 11th. Crucially too, when he hasn’t had the pace to challenge Lowes and knew that, he took two podiums at Aragon to do some good damage limitation. That speaks to a rider unlikely to crumble when faced with a deficit of only seven points, especially when there are still 75 on the table.

Behind the top two, it’s not over yet either. Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) is now third overall and must have felt like the season has been slipping through his fingers of late, but the Italian has already shown his class. His is a rebuild but the foundations he starts from are impressive, so 22 points is more than a molehill but far from a mountain. Can he come back stronger from the crash in Le Mans that seems to have upended the recent triple header for the number 10?

His teammate Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46), meanwhile, is also a man on a comeback mission. Quick at MotorLand but crashing out of contention, the Italian could find his chances at the title over at the Gran Premio de Europa. He’s 48 points off Lowes and needs to be within 50 at least heading into the final two rounds to keep his chances alive. Having said that, he’s now free of the big pressure nearer the top – and is pretty much guaranteed to be fast. Don’t count him out, at the very least as a serious complication for those ahead on points.

The tale of the final three races won’t boil down to a four-man fight though; it rarely does in motorcycle racing. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in fifth will be itching to move up and take more podiums and wins, and whilst he’s the last man in mathematical contention as it stands, he also said he knows the title is gone – but he wants the top three. That makes him a man without any real pressure, as are some of the other key names who’ve been near the front.

Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) is back to full steam and has some speed, Fabio Di Giannantonio (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) is gaining momentum and rostrums, his teammate Jorge Navarro has shown flashes of serious pace. Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) is a podium finisher in 2020… and Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) very nearly. What can they do in the fight near the front? And who else can join them to make life even harder for those playing risk vs reward?

Find out in the Moto2™ race at the Gran Premio de Europa, with lights out set for 12:20 (GMT +1)!

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