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9 days ago
By motogp.com

Bezzecchi bounces back as Lowes crash blows title chase open

A sensational salvage job from Enea Bastianini sees the Italian now hold a slender title lead with only two rounds remaining

SKY Racing Team VR46's Marco Bezzecchi bounced back in style after a double DNF at MotorLand Aragon by taking a second-career Moto2™ victory at the Gran Premio de Europa in a race filled with drama. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) took the podium places but all the headlines will be about Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), who now leads the World Championship after capitalising on Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) crashing out of comfortable second place in the closing stages.

Petronas Sprinta Racing's Xavi Vierge made the dream start from pole position but immediately had Joe Roberts attacking him at Turn 4. The Tennor American Racing man went wide on the exit though, with the Spaniard reclaiming top spot at Turn 5. It didn’t stay that way for long, however, with Roberts storming through moments later to hold the lead at the close of lap one. Then disaster struck with the front end of Roberts’ Kalex folding from beneath him at Turn 2. The Californian was unable to join another stateside Joe in celebrating this weekend.

It allowed Marco Bezzecchi to take the lead but the Italian was under severe pressure by Remy Gardner. Podium finisher last time out Fabio Di Giannantonio (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) and Hafizh Syahrin (Inde Aspar Team Moto2), fresh from signing a 2021 Moto2™ deal with RW Racing GP, both crashed out of contention before there was a heart-in-mouth moment for World Championship leader Sam Lowes, who very nearly joined them in the gravel trap after pulling off a vital save at Turn 4.

Enea Bastianini was taking no notice of the people saying the Circuit Ricardo Tormo is a difficult track to overtake on as the title challenger battled his way through from 15th on the grid up to sixth with only five laps having been completed. Ten laps ticked by before Lowes decided to pounce on Gardner for second place, diving through ahead of the Australian. But it didn’t last long with the wild Aussie finding an immediate reply. The World Championship leader flexed his muscles only a few seconds later though, making certain he stayed ahead of Gardner in the fight for second.

Seeing Lowes stretching out his title lead by jumping up a place, Bastianini knew he couldn’t hang about much longer and put in a textbook move on Vierge to take fifth place with ten laps now left. There was a change in the fight for third too when Martin managed to squeeze through on Gardner, demoting the Australian outside of the podium places with time starting to tick away.

Then yet another seismic shift in the Moto2™ World Championship shook Valencia as the, up to this point, immaculate Lowes made his first mistake in some time; and it was a costly one too. The Briton crashed out at Turn 6 and his title lead went up in smoke as Bastianini swooped through into now fourth and consequently the lead of the World Championship.

Seismic Moto2™ title shift rocks Valencia as Lowes crashes

The Italian’s choice of a soft tyre was starting to cause him some issues though, as the FlexBox HP40 duo of Lorenzo Baldassarri and Hector Garzo began to put him under all sorts of pressure. Baldassarri got in front of his compatriot in the closing stages before with what will no doubt prove to be two vital points on the line Bastianini got back in front. 

At the front though it was all about Bezzecchi who was totally unflustered at the front once Roberts had departed the scene. Martin made it two podiums in three races as he backed up his third place finish in the Aragon Grand Prix. Gardner, meanwhile, collected his third podium finish of the year and made it a fifth top five finish in six races; the type of consistency that sees him further consolidate sixth in the standings.

Bastianini was able to hold off Baldassarri for what could be a pivotal fourth place finish. It means the 22-year-old from Rimini now sits six points clear of Lowes in the World Championship with only two rounds left of 2020. The Italian will no doubt have to fight off Luca Marini to be crowned intermediate class king in Portimao after the SKY Racing Team VR46 man proved he is far from out of the title chase with a last lap move on Garzo handing him sixth place and moving him to within 19 points of the top of the Championship.

Federal Oil Gresini Moto2's Nicolo Bulega clinched eighth across the line after getting the better of poleman Vierge, who eventually drifted back to ninth, before HDR Heidrun Speed Up's Jorge Navarro rounded out the top ten.

Top 10:
 1. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46)
 2. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 1.941
 3. Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) + 3.553
 4. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) + 4.494
 5. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) + 4.648
 6. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 5.142
 7. Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) + 5.142
 8. Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 8.104
 9. Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 8.746
 10. Jorge Navarro (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) + 11.930

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