Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) secured his third win of the season as the Moto2™ race at the GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini came down to the wire. The Spaniard beat Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) on the final lap to head third-place Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).
Di Giannantonio held position off the line at the Italian grabbed the holeshot from pole position, with Marquez sluggish as the lights went out as the Spaniard dropped to P6. Fernandez slotted into second behind ‘Diggia’ on the opening lap with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) getting a lightning start from P7 to climb to P3.
Home hero Di Giannantonio had Fernandez right on his tailpipes and pushing in the early stages, the Italian was out the seat coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 2 – a lucky close call for the race leader but despite this, the rookie set the fastest lap of the race as the top two started to stretch away. Meanwhile, Marquez had recovered to get himself up to third after passing Lüthi, with Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) losing the front at Turn 10 to allow the duo through – the Australian just staying on board his Kalex. Marquez was then chasing Di Giannantonio and Fernandez, with the gap over half a second.
On Lap 6, the top four were nearly two seconds clear of Gardner and Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with Di Giannantonio keeping his cool at the front. However, Lap 9 saw Fernandez make a move. The Spaniard swooped around the outside at Turn 1 to have the inside line at Turn 2 – a classic Misano move – but Di Giannantonio didn’t let P1 go without a fight. The Speed Up rider had the inside line for Turn 3 but Fernandez would get him back to lead. Down into Turn 8 though, ‘Diggia’ was back underneath Fernandez and at the same time, Marquez pounced on his title rival. Fernandez was down to P3, with Di Giannantonio holding a half-second advantage over the Championship leader.
With 13 laps to go, Fernandez was back into P2 as Di Giannantonio held a 0.7 lead. But Fernandez had the bit between his teeth as he hunted the Speed Up, clawing back Di Giannantonio’s advantage to half a second on the next lap. The gap then stayed fairly stagnant between the top two, with Marquez just losing touch to sit around a second off the lead. With seven laps left, Fernandez was closer. The Kalex chassis seemingly having an advantage in the latter half of the lap, with Di Giannantonio holding the edge in the first half. Fernandez then had a huge front-end scare at Turn 10, with ‘Diggia’ being handed a track limits warning.
Five to go, four to go, three to go. Di Giannantonio was holding firm with Fernandez swarming behind. At this stage, Marquez was 1.5 behind as it became Speed Up vs Kalex, Di Giannantonio vs Fernandez. A dream debut home win vs vital points in the Championship. Who would prevail? Fernandez was piling on the pressure with two laps remaining and heading onto the final lap there was nothing between them. Fernandez then pounced, taking the outside line around Turn 1 to grab the inside at Turn 2 – but he was in hot. Di Giannantonio got the switchback and lead was still the Italian’s.
The latter then made a small mistake on the exit of Turn 4 to give Fernandez – not that he needed it – that little extra scent of the win. Turn 8 passed by, as did Turn 10. But, with a good run out of the tight right-hander onto the back straight, Fernandez was in the tow. The Spaniard ran wide at Turn 11 and exceeded track limits, seemingly no advantage was gained though as ‘Diggia’ held it. Then, though, the number 40 went for it. Contact between the two, Fernandez had the inside line into Turn 14. Aggressive, but fair. Fernandez sat Di Giannantonio up and the race lead was the Spaniard’s, with ‘Diggia’ unable to reply. Fernandez rounded the final corner to claim 25 points, closing third place Marquez down in the title race in the process – 26 points now the gap.
Di Giannantonio rode phenomenally all race, but a dream home GP victory went begging by just 0.186. Nevertheless, this was the rookie’s best result of the season and his second rostrum of an impressive 2019. Marquez will take a podium away from Misano as he now heads to his home GP at MotorLand Aragon still in control of the Moto2™ title race. Lüthi couldn’t quite keep tabs on the number 73 as the Swiss rider picked up his best result since Assen in P4. Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) took his best finish of the season in fifth after a very solid ride at his team’s home race, the British rider finishing just ahead of Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder, the South African coming from P16 on the grid, with +Ego Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro crossing the line eighth after starting from 15th.
Vierge made a good start but eventually slipped down to eighth place, the Spaniard beating home rider Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) by just over a second - a top ten on his 100th GP start. Said duo were able to capitalise on Lorenzo Baldassarri’s (FlexBox HP 40) late long lap penalty for exceeding track limits, the Italian closing out the top 10 at his home GP.
After a strong weekend, ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Gardner and Tetsuta Nagashima crashed out of contention – riders ok. Home heroes Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) crashed out too, with Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing) the other faller on Sunday afternoon.
After a stewards hearing after the MotoGP™ race, the result stands. Fernandez cements himself as a title threat to Marquez with win number three of his season, the second on the bounce. 26 points are still healthy for Marquez heading to Aragon, but there’s no time to relax. Moto2™ go racing again next weekend in Spain, what do we have in store before jetting off to Asia?
1. Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40)
2. Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) + 0.186
3. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 1.283
4. Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) + 2.733
5. Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 8.764
6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 8.952
7. Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) + 9.928
8. Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 12.844
9. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) + 13.916
10. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40)* + 15.338
* 3 second penalty
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