Miguel Oliviera won the Czech Moto2 race at Brno in style, to lead the championship by two points from Pecco Bagnaia.
Luca Marini started off pole position, his first ever pole after a brilliant lap in qualifying ahead of Alex Marquez and Mattia Pasini. Oliviera started fourth (he must have listened to our critcism of his qualifying in our mid season review) and championship leader Bagnaia was sixth. The newest rider in the Moto2 field, Isaac Vinales’ replacement Alejandro Medina, would start second last.
Marini would take the holeshot from Marquez, but Marquez would soon assume the lead ahead of Xavi Vierge in third. Joan Mir would crash out with Tech 3 team mates Remy Gardner and Bo Bendsneyder as Bagnaia took third from Vierge then quickly took second from team mate Marini. Then 3 corners later took the lead from Marquez and looked to clear off, but soon made a mistake and dropped back to third as Marini then assumed the lead. Medina’s debut would last all of two laps as he crashed out from dead last, as Bagnaia re-took the lead. The fastest man on track was the remainig rookie Romano Fenati, just setting the fast lap as he was told he got a ride through for jumping the start, so that would ruin his race.
As the race settled Olivera would do his job and have to try to upset Bagnaia’s rhythm and stuffed it straight under him on the final corner as Baldassarri and Binder were fighting hammer and tongs for seventh place, as Stefano Manzi would crash his Forward Racing Suter machine (again) as Olivera took the lead from Marini. Marini would bite back almost instantly however, as Olivera would try and re-pass intently but run wide at the first corner.
As we crossed the line at the halfway point the top three were glued to each other, then there was a small half second gap to Marquez, Vierge, Pasini and Baldassarri, who would be looking to bridge the gap quickly, as ‘Balda’ looked to take the race by the scruff of the neck and took fifth from Pasini. Marquez would help everyone’s cause by crashing as he took third from Olivera, and would not be able to remount. Bagnaia would see this as the opportunity to attempt a break, as he took Marini on the straight and tried to check out, as Balda saw this happen ahead of him and put a tough but fair move on Vierge for fourth and took off after the Red Bull KTM of Olivera ahead of him. It looked like ‘Iron Balda’ was the man with the pace, but also would be using more tyre than the buttery smooth Bagnaia and Marini. Danny Kent would join the others on the floor, as he would crash his Speed Up chasing his team mate Fabio Quartararo. Baldassarri would waste no time working his way to second place, taking both Olivera and Marini in the space of three corners to latch onto his flat mate Bagnaia’s rear wheel, and passing him two corners later.
It seemed like Balda was the man with the pace, and Bagnaia played it smart and hung onto the Pons bike’s rear wheel, but soon made a mistake and dropped himself all the way back to fourth, he would have work to do if he wanted to retain the championship lead. There were just five laps remaining and there was a clear top group of five, had Vierge played it smart and kept the most tyre or was he just struggling with the pace? The chasing group was headed up by the impressive Jorge Navarro in sixth place but it looked like there wasn’t enough laps to catch the front group. Then with three laps remaining Olivera pulled the pin as Balda’s tyres finally dropped off the cliff and his trajectory was only going one way, backwards.
With two laps remaining it seemed as though the Olivera plan had failed, as Marini had reeled him in and Bagnaia was right there too, as Marini attempted to upset Olivera by passing him twice him two corners, and getting the pass finally completed two corners later, but the KTM looked very impressive and he was able to re-pass Marini with two corners left. Marini would attempt to take the pass back for the win, and they would exit the final corner side by side but Olivera would have the slightly better drive and was able to take the win. Bagnaia would round out the podium positions just ahead of the still impressive Baldassarri, and thus losing the lead in the championship lead to Olivera by two points. After Marquez’s crash, it’s become a two horse race for the title, as there is a 53 point gap between Bagnaia in second and Marquez in third.
We now go to Austria for the race at the Red Bull ring in Spielberg in a week’s time, will Olivera win at KTM’s home or will Bagnaia be able to get the championship lead back? Find out here on NowMoto!
Full results here.
Championship standings here.
Featured image credit- http://www.motogp.com