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3 days ago
By motogp.com

Raul Fernandez produces comeback stunner for Assen win

Red Bull KTM Ajo and Elf Marc VDS Racing Team went head-to-head in a fantastic Dutch TT battle

After the disappointment of crashing out of the German GP, star rookie Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) picked up a phenomenal third Moto2™ victory of the season at the Motul TT Assen after a classy comeback ride. World Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) claims P2 for his fifth podium in a row, as Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) bags his first podium since 2019.

Red Bull KTM Ajo vs Elf Marc VDS Racing, ft a Raul Fernandez comeback

It was a fast and frantic start to the Moto2™ race with fourth on the grid Aron Canet (Aspar Team Moto2) managing to grab the holeshot, as polesitter Raul Fernandez was forced wide. Gardner swooped through to second as Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) made a good start from the front row too, Raul Fernandez was down to P4 from pole. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) crashed on the exit of Turn 5 on Lap 1, thankfully everyone avoided the Italian, before Tony Arbolino (Dynavolt Intact GP) crashed at Turn 7.

Lap 2 then saw Raul Fernandez run wide at Turn 7, this cost the Spaniard several places and all of a sudden, with Gardner now leading, Raul Fernandez was P9. Lowes went for a pass at the final chicane on Gardner, but there was slight contact between the two on the exit, which allowed a fast-starting Augusto Fernandez to take the lead. Lap 7 saw Lowes make a move stick on his teammate as the Briton led, the top three and a recovering Raul Fernandez were pulling clear of the chasing pack.

14 laps to go, the top four – Lowes, Gardner, Augusto Fernandez, Raul Fernandez – were locked together. Elf Marc VDS Racing vs Red Bull KTM Ajo. With 11 laps remaining, both Fernandez’s made moves on their teammates at Turn 1; Lowes down to P2, Gardner down to P4. A couple of laps later, Raul Fernandez was up into P2, with Lowes and Gardner just dropping off the top two slightly. It was then comeback complete for Raul Fernandez, Turn 1 was the chosen passing place again at the rookie hit the front.

Immediately, Raul Fernandez was edging clear. Two consecutive 1:36s saw the number 25 move a second clear of Lowes, Augusto Fernandez and Gardner, the latter looking impatient behind the second Fernandez. With four lap to go, the lead was 1.2s and heading onto Lap 22 of 24, it was 1.5s.

In the end, no one could match Raul Fernandez’s pace. It’s another win and another podium for the Spanish star, an incredible race and deserved victory. Gardner now has eight podiums in 2021, the Australian limiting the damage in terms of the Championship – he holds a 31-point lead going into the summer break. Augusto Fernandez has had a tough 18 months but a first return to the rostrum since the 2019 San Marino GP is the perfect way to head into the five-week break.

The points scorers

Lowes was in the mix throughout but didn’t quite have enough to stand on the podium, the British rider crossed the line 0.6s off teammate Fernandez in P4. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) unravelled a sterling effort to bring home a P5 from 16th on the grid, the Italian led another star rookie in the form of Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) by two seconds as the Japanese rider picks up P6, his fifth top 10 of the year.

Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up), Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and rookie Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) closed out the top 10, with Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), reigning Moto3™ World Champion Albert Arenas (Aspar Team Moto2), Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP40), Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) and home hero Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) picking up the remaining points on offer in the Netherlands.

Another Red Bull KTM Ajo 1-2 sees Aki Ajo’s men go into the summer break 31 points apart, as the title race looks set to go all the way between Gardner and Raul Fernandez. 184 points plays 153 points, the Moto2™ riders will be back on track at the Styrian GP for Round 10.

Top 10:
1. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
2. Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 1.066
3. Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 1.265
4. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 1.879
5. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 8.329
6. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 10.960
7. Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) + 13.993
8. Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 16.052
9. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 16.094
10. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 17.585

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