Franco Morbidelli triumphs as Sachsenring shakes up the title fight
Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took another impressive win under intense pressure at the Sachsenring: first hunted by key title rival Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) and then by a charging Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo). The Italian kept it calm and carried on, besting Oliveira to the line with rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) completing the podium behind the duel for the win.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took the holeshot from P2 on the grid, muscling out teammate Morbidelli into Turn 1 and leading the field on Lap 1. A big winner off the line was Lüthi, and the Swiss rider put in a storming first lap to take the lead into the first corner next time around. Morbidelli struck back against his teammate next, with Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) hanging on to the lead trio.
A crash for Hector Garzo (Tech 3 Racing) was then followed by another for Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) at the same corner, before drama hit the front as Marquez hit the gravel, leaving Lüthi and Morbidelli clear in a duel for the lead.
Miguel Oliveira was next on the move as he began to hone in on Cortese, breaking free of the battle behind between Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Francesco Bagnaia to pass the German and take over in third before Cortese came under pressure from behind.
Morbidelli struck soon for the lead, with Lüthi then shadowing the Italian and sizing him up – before the Swiss veteran then suddenly slid out at Turn 12, unable to get back in the race and giving the standings an instant shake up.
That left Oliveira with a clear target ahead on the road as the KTM rider started to eat into Morbidelli’s lead. The battle for the podium then became a three-way battle between Corsi, Bagnaia and Pasini.
As the laps ticked down in a game of cat and mouse at the front, Oliveira showed Morbidelli his front wheel on a number of occasions, before the Portuguese rider struck at the end of the penultimate lap. Morbidelli hit back, and managed to keep the door firmly closed around the last lap – with the final corner almost neck and neck but the Championship leader taking another win to extend his advantage.
Behind Oliveira’s stunning charge to P2, Bagnaia won the battle to complete the rostrum and took another incredible podium in his rookie year – with Corsi just behind his compatriot and third Italian Mattia Pasini completing the top five. Pasini unfortunately also received notification of a technical infringement at the Catalan GP, and has had points earned in Barcelona deducted from his 2017 tally – another shake up in the standings.
Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) held off an impressive ride from 2016 Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as the South African comes back from injury to take some more honour amongst rookies, with the two taking sixth and seventh respectively. Cortese crossed the line eighth after dropping back slightly in the latter stages, with teammate Marcel Schrötter taking ninth in a solid double top ten for Dynavolt Intact GP at home.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was a quiet superstar to complete the top ten after starting outside the top twenty, ahead of Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia), Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing), Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40), Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) and Stefano Manzi (Sky Racing Team VR46) completing the top fifteen.
Now, it’s summer time – with a break before Moto2™ get back on track at Brno.
Moto2 Race Results
1 – Franco Morbidelli (ITA – Kalex) 41’05.137
2 – Miguel Oliveira (POR – KTM) + 0.066
3 – Francesco Bagnaia (ITA – Kalex) +0.574