Raul Fernandez wins, Gardner seventh in Austria Moto2 GP

Raul Fernandez. Picture: MotoGP.com

Raul Fernandez has eaten into Remy Gardner’s championship lead with victory in the Austrian Moto2 Grand Prix as his Australian team-mate finished seventh.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo duo continue to occupy the top two positions in the standings but Gardner’s advantage has been cut from 35 points to 19, largely as a result of him losing out at the first corner of the 25-lap race around the Red Bull Ring.

Ai Ogura kept Raul Fernandez honest for most of the way and while he could not convert his late threat into a victory, second for the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia rider represented his first podium in the intermediate class.

Elf Marc VDS riders Augusto Fernandez and Sam Lowes finished third and fourth respectively, ahead of Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Celestino Vietti (Sky VR46), and Gardner.

When the lights went out, Lowes led the field away from pole position, with Raul Fernandez following him up the hill on the opening lap from the middle of the front row.

Ogura emerged third from the Turn 3 hairpin, with Augusto Fernandez just behind, but Gardner had plummeted from fifth on the grid to beyond the top 10.

The Australian had been shuffled back as the pack converged on the first corner, but there was bigger drama just behind which caused Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up) and Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP40) to crash.

Several riders had run into each other and it was Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) who was pinged with a double long lap penalty over it.

Raul Fernandez took the lead when he went up the inside of Lowes at Turn 3 on Lap 3, as the top four began to break away.

Ogura put the same move on Lowes on Lap 5, and Augusto Fernandez on his team-mate on Lap 6, meaning #22 was down to fourth position.

Gardner briefly got back up to eighth but had spent several laps circulating in 10th position, one behind Marco Bezzecchi (Sky VR46) even though the Italian had started an unusually low 16th after crashing in qualifying.

Bezzecchi handed #87 another position when he ran wide at Turn 1 on Lap 7, as Ogura tailed Raul Fernandez at the head of the field.

Both Gardner and Bezzecchi, among others, gained another spot when Marcel Schrotter (Liqui-Moly Intact GP) went down at Turn 1 on Lap 9 while running fifth.

Raul Fernandez had an advantage of around half a second over Ogura as the contest moved past the halfway mark, while Gardner was making inroads on Aron Canet (Aspar).

He passed the Spaniard for seventh on Lap 14 at Turn 9, and again a lap later after Canet had regained the spot at Turn 4.

Raul Fernandez, Ogura, and Augusto Fernandez continued to all but match each others’ lap times, with several tenths splitting one from the next, while Gardner finally shook off Canet.

Ogura crept closer to the #25 Red Bull KTM Ajo machine and got the margin down to about three tenths of a second with a handful of laps to go, but the race-leading Spaniard responded.

Raul Fernandez put the hammer down to be 0.794s ahead at the start of the final lap and took the chequered flag 0.845s up on Ogura, making for an important victory as he seeks to catch Gardner in the title race.

Chantra was classified fifth after a big lunge at Vietti at the final corner, the latter prevailing in the drag race to the line but then being put back one position for exceeding track limits, while Gardner’s battle with Canet cost him any chance of progressing further from seventh.

Canet took eighth, and Thomas Luthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) passed Bezzecchi midway through the race to finish ninth and relegate #72 to 10th all told.

Round 12 is the British Grand Prix, at Silverstone, on August 27-29.

Race results: Austrian Moto2 Grand Prix

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time/Gap
1 25 Raul FERNANDEZ ESP Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex 37:19.890
2 79 Ai OGURA JPN IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex +0.845
3 37 Augusto FERNANDEZ ESP Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex +2.747
4 22 Sam LOWES GBR Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex +4.412
5 35 Somkiat CHANTRA THA IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex +8.850
6 13 Celestino VIETTI ITA SKY Racing Team VR46 Kalex +8.782
7 87 Remy GARDNER AUS Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex +13.657
8 44 Aron CANET ESP Aspar Team Moto2 Boscoscuro +16.499
9 12 Thomas LUTHI SUI Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team Kalex +17.108
10 72 Marco BEZZECCHI ITA SKY Racing Team VR46 Kalex +19.588
11 96 Jake DIXON GBR Petronas Sprinta Racing Kalex +21.283
12 21 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO ITA Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex +21.703
13 14 Tony ARBOLINO ITA Liqui Moly Intact GP Kalex +21.866
14 97 Xavi VIERGE ESP Petronas Sprinta Racing Kalex +27.146
15 40 Hector GARZO ESP Flexbox HP40 Kalex +29.128
16 16 Joe ROBERTS USA Italtrans Racing Team Kalex +33.058
17 64 Bo BENDSNEYDER NED Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team Kalex +38.235
18 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN MAS NTS RW Racing GP NTS +38.357
19 24 Simone CORSI ITA MV Agusta Forward Racing MV Agusta +38.643
20 6 Cameron BEAUBIER USA American Racing Kalex +44.344
21 29 Taiga HADA JPN Pertamina Mandalika SAG Teluru Kalex +46.490
22 11 Nicolò BULEGA ITA Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex +47.560
23 23 Marcel SCHROTTER GER Liqui Moly Intact GP Kalex +1’05.584
24 62 Stefano MANZI ITA Flexbox HP40 Kalex +1’09.436
DNF 5 Yari MONTELLA ITA Lightech Speed Up Boscoscuro 10 Laps
DNF 42 Marcos RAMIREZ ESP American Racing Kalex 12 Laps
DNF 70 Barry BALTUS BEL NTS RW Racing GP NTS 15 Laps
DNF 19 Lorenzo DALLA PORTA ITA Italtrans Racing Team Kalex 20 Laps
DNF 75 Albert ARENAS ESP Aspar Team Moto2 Boscoscuro 24 Laps
DNF 9 Jorge NAVARRO ESP Lightech Speed Up Boscoscuro 0 Lap

Race winner: 25 laps

Championship points

Pos Rider Nat Pts
1 Remy GARDNER AUS 206
4 Sam LOWES GBR 114
5 Aron CANET ESP 83
6 Augusto FERNANDEZ ESP 82
10 Xavi VIERGE ESP 59
12 Celestino VIETTI ITA 42
13 Jorge NAVARRO ESP 42
15 Somkiat CHANTRA THA 35
17 Cameron BEAUBIER USA 26
18 Albert ARENAS ESP 23
19 Jake DIXON GBR 21
20 Stefano MANZI ITA 20
21 Marcos RAMIREZ ESP 16
22 Hector GARZO ESP 12
23 Thomas LUTHI SUI 11
24 Nicolò BULEGA ITA 10
25 Lorenzo DALLA PORTA ITA 10
26 Hafizh SYAHRIN MAS 8
27 Simone CORSI ITA 7
28 Alonso LOPEZ ESP 4
29 Fermín ALDEGUER ESP 4
31 Barry BALTUS BEL 2
33 Tommaso MARCON ITA
34 Miquel PONS ESP
35 Fraser ROGERS GBR
36 Taiga HADA JPN
39 Keminth KUBO THA

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