Beating Baldassarri: have the chasing pack caught up?

The Italian crashed out at COTA and Tom Lüthi took over as the class of the field. Will that prove an anomaly once we race in Andalucia?

After two sublime wins in a row for Moto2™ Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) to begin the season, the best word to describe the Italian’s form was imperious. But then came Texas and his crash at COTA showed he was far from unbeatable, with key rival and veteran Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) taking over on the top step and closing the gap down – as did teammate and second place finisher Marcel Schrötter. Now we head back onto more successful hunting grounds for Baldassarri, how will the cards play out in Jerez?

The bad news for his rivals is that the number 7 will definitely be walking into the venue high on confidence despite the COTA crash. Texas has always been a more difficult track for him, he’s still ahead in the standings…and he won the 2018 Spanish GP. That’s certainly enough for everyone to have a serious eye on the Italian as a favourite, although the likes of Lüthi and Schrötter will be gunning for more glory and are within striking distance in the points.

Home hero Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) is another man who’ll be fired up as well. With one podium so far this season, taken in Argentina, the number 73 has had some good pace so far – and was the man who took the win in Jerez the year before Baldassarri. It was his first in the intermediate class and the 2014 Moto3™ World Champion was just unbeatable from pole, so he can’t be counted out and will be looking for that tiny bit more than his pace in testing at the track. In preseason he rounded out the top five, though there’s plenty mileage been raced since then.

Two men hoping that’s not changed all that much will be the fastest duo back in preseason: Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), who ended the test split by thousandths. Neither have had the start to the season they likely imagined back before the lights went out in Qatar, but the Spanish GP could be the perfect reset button so dominant were the two on the timesheets.

Then there’s the likes of Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), home hero Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46)…and Jorge Navarro (HDR Heidrun Speed Up), who took his first intermediate class podium last time out. And the fight for Rookie of the Year sees a lot at stake too, with Spaniard Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) looking to make up some ground on home turf.

There’s everything to play for in the Red Bull Gran Premio de España and plenty of riders gunning for glory in front of one of the most incredible crowds of the year. Will the home heroes fly the flag, will the pacesetters in testing fight back, or will Baldassarri blast right back out the blocks where he left off in Argentina? It's one thing to win two in a row, it's another for that to be the new normal. See if the frontrunners have chased down the Championship leader from the 3rd to 5th May.

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