Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) is a man in form and the Motul TT Assen saw his run of firsts finally culminate in a first ever Grand Prix as he became the 37th different winner in Moto2™, a fitting statistic for the rider who made his way to the MotoGP™ World Championship racing that very number. The Spaniard was a force to be reckoned with in a manic fight at the front throughout and came through the chaos of a clash between Championship rivals Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40) to beat Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to the flag by tenths. Completing the podium after the war of attrition was Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) just behind the Italian but the P4 enough for the Swiss veteran to become the new Championship leader.
It was Binder who took the holeshot from P2 on the grid, with Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) also able to leapfrog polesitter Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) in the early stages. Alex Marquez remained P4, with Lüthi making gains into fifth. Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was another key player in the group as it remained a tight fight minus Binder, who had begun to make a gap at the front.
Remy Gardner was able to hunt the South African back down soon enough, however, and set about trying to get past. But a wobble for the Aussie dropped him back down to fourth as the front squabble suddenly really set alight. Lowes moved through to attack Binder, Binder hit back, and the lead group set about going to war: Binder, Lowes, Vierge, Fernandez, Marquez, Gardner and Lüthi. Rookies Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) arrived on the scene soon enough though – joined by Marini.
With 14 to go the first big drama hit as Gardner crashed out, and then Martin tagged Lowes and the Brit went down, taking another player out the group. The Spanish rookie was the next man to crash in the race of attrition, just as teammate Brad Binder was back in front and trying to pull the pin. That set Alex Marquez in motion as the former Championship leader sliced through to lead the chasing pack, eager to close him down on the hunt for a fourth win in a row.
Vierge then crashed, and it was another key moment in the race as Bastianini was caught up in it and Lüthi too, but the Swiss veteran somehow stayed on. At the front, that left four men and soon enough Binder had been caught and passed by Marquez and then both Flexbox HP 40 riders. Then, more drama struck.
With two laps to go Marquez was still ahead, with Baldassarri tagged close behind. But suddenly the Italian went for a move and slid out, taking the former Championship leader with him and leaving Fernandez within touching distance of the win. Able to hold of Binder, he took his first Grand Prix win as the South African got back on the podium and converted a much-improved weekend for KTM into a top haul of points. Marini, able to pick his way through the chaos, completed the podium as he just staved off Lüthi.
Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) took fifth and his best ever result, ahead of a best intermediate class result for Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team). Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) equalled his best Moto2™ result in P7, just behind Locatelli, and took the best result for the new MV Agusta project. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) was eighth, with Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) adding to the joy for his team with a top ten.
Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) took his best intermediate class result so far to complete the top ten, ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up). Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) took his first ever Grand Prix points in P12, as did Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) after his impressed ride to P13. Joe Roberts (American Racing Team KTM) just beat teammate Iker Lecuona as the two completed the points.
After the chaos and attrition in Assen, it’s Lüthi in the lead now and the Swiss rider has six points of advantage. Marquez drops to second, Baldassarri is now just behind teammate Fernandez…there’s everything to play for in Germany and we’re back in action in just a few days’ time.
Augusto Fernandez: “I’m really happy about my start and my first laps, I put myself in the first positions and in the group on the third or fourth lap. It was very difficult because we were a big group and I was a bit scared about the last laps with that group, because it was like Moto3! But in the end we managed to have a little group with four, and then with Balda’s mistake…I’m sorry about that for the team because we’re also fighting for the team’s Championship but I’m really happy about my race. I saw the opportunity when they crashed and pushed to the limit to get it.”
1 – Augusto Fernandez (SPA – Kalex) 38’25.678
2 – Brad Binder (RSA – KTM) +0.612
3 – Luca Marini (ITA – Kalex) +3.686