Following on from Qualifying in the glorious sunshine at the Autoromo del Mugello in Florence, Italy, the Moto2 class were met with an overcast track, and much cooler temperatures in time for the sixth race of the season.
Morbidelli on pole for the Moto2 race
Franco Morbidelli stole pole position in the closing stages of Qualifying from his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammate, Alex Marquez who looked set to be on pole as it seemed eople struggled to meet the pace set by him. The two were joined on the front row by Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team), an inspirational Italian rider on a modified bike to compensate for an old arm injury, who was starting the race from third.
It was Marquez who was quickest during the morning warm-up session where he was almost half a second of the Qualifying pace. Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was second quickest ahead of Morbidelli.
Morbidelli leads into the opening turn
It was Morbidelli who led into the first corner as the 21 lap race got underway when the lights went out. All riders got a clean start, and within corners, Morbidelli lost his lead to an attacking Pasini who determination to collect his first win was clear from the very start.
The Italian led ahead of Morbidelli, Marquez, and Nakagami who were being chased by local rider, Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team), Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten) and Luca Marini (Forward Racing Team).
Baldassarri takes Nakagami out
Before the end of the first lap, disaster struck. Baldassarri completely missed his line and his baking point as he approached turn 15. He ended up diving up the inside of Nakagami who unexpectedly did not know his fate. Things went wrong for the Italian, he lost the rear, and then was thrown over the bike suffering a high-side. He and the bike took Nakagami out of action.
The two were tangled in the bikes as they slid into gravel trap. Baldassarri was lucky to not have his head run over by the fallen bikes. He stopped shorter, but Nakagami tumbled with the bikes but did not quite reach the wall that the bikes crashed into. Fortunately both riders were able to get back up to their feet and later on Baldassarri went to the mobile home of Nakagami to apologise to the Japanese rider who immediately accepted it.
Marquez takes the lead from his teammate
Back at the front, as they headed down the start-finish straight to begin the second lap, Marquez used the slipstream of his teammate to catch and bypass him, making the move stick as he turned into the first corner. Both of them and Pasini who led appeared to have created a slight gap, but when he set the fastest lap during lap two, Luthi was soon able to catch him.
Morbidelli worked to try and stop Marquez from gaining any momentum, and in his attempts, he allowed Pasini to break away slightly. Again on lap four Marquez passed Morbidelli, as behind him, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) caught and passed Marini to take fifth.
Pasini loses his lead
Pasini’s lead was short lived as on the fifth lap after fending his teammate off, Marquez caught and passed the Italian heading into turn one. Pasini was back in front by the end of the lap, as Oliveira regained fifth after Marini retaliated to the earlier pass. By the seventh lap, Oliveira again passed Marini and this time was able to break away from the Italian.
Behind him, Marini ended up engaged in battle with Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), rookie, Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP). Corsi lost two positions on the eighth lap to both Bagnaia and Marini.
Manzi crashes out of his home round
Unfortunately for the rookie’s teammate, rookie Stefano Manzi (Sky Racing Team VR46) crashed out of the race at turn six of the track on the ninth lap. Moments later, British rider Danny Kent who was standing in for injured Iker Lecuona with the Garage Plus Interwetten Team, after he decided to part ways with Kiefer Racing and made a wildcard appearance with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in Le Mans, also crashed out at turn 12. Both riders appeared unhurt.
Group of three break away at the front
With eight laps to go, the front three Pasini, Marquez and Luthi led, ahead of Morbidelli and Oliveira who were out on their own, ahead of the battling group. Bagnaia went on to make an attempt to take sixth once again from Marini. He was at the front of the group that followed the leaders but then made a mistake losing two places and almost coming into contact with Corsi.
Pasini and Marquez were taking completely different lines around Mugello. Marquez was choosing to run wider where Pasini kept neat and tidy. With seven laps remaining, Marquez and Luthi decided to attack Pasini. Mobbing and overtaking him on either side down the start-finish straight, they led him into turn one but then both an wide allowing Pasini to pass back through.
On the following lap, Marquez tried again and this time made his lead stick into turn one; Pasini appeared to be lucky to get his Kalex stopped in time for the apex. Then he made the most amazing and brave move, sliding up the inside of Marquez on turn seven, taking such a tight line and making it stick regaining his lead.
Luthi makes a bold move to take the lead
Once again on the start-finish straight, Marquez passed Pasini again. But making an even braver move, Luthi was incredibly late on the brakes and led into turn one. However he made a mistake running wide and missing the apex allowing Marquez to pass through. Then, Pasini replicated his earlier brilliant move on Luthi forcing himself back into second.
The battle for sixth continued, with Bagnaia again bypassing Marini who quickly retaliated. Corsi then began to apply the pressure, forcing Bagnaia down to seventh. Ahead of them, Pasini completed his move perfectly to take the lead at turn seven with four laps remaining. Marquez tried to take back the lead at the opening turn, but once again ran wide.
Bagnaia crashes out
Then unfortunately for the rookie, he crashed out of his home debut as a Moto2 rider, at turn one of the final lap. He was able to recover the bike and continue on but crossed the line in 22nd, way out of the points.
Eventful last lap of the Italian Moto2 race
It all came down to the last lap. The race was far from over as Luthi once again used the start-finish straight to go from third to first heading into turn one. This time he made it stick; Marquez and Pasini tried to challenge but instead were held up. Pasini again made his ace move on Marquez at turn seven to regain seventh and corners later made his way passed Luthi; he just needed to get to the line.
Pasini collects first Moto2 win
Pasini continued pushing and managed to remain in front as he crossed the finish line. He won his first ever Moto2 race on home turf, crossing the line 0.052 seconds ahead of Luthi in second, and 0.136 seconds ahead of Marquez in third.
Pasini was absolutely made up as was his team. The Italian more than deserved the race win which has been a long time coming. The last time he made it on to the podium was in 2009. He was so excited to get on the top step that he slipped when he jumped on and had to be helped up by Marquez. He then continued to sing is national anthem at the top of his lungs. All paid homage to the late Nicky Hayden and Luis Salom.
Morbidelli off the podium for the second time this season
Morbidelli finished off the podium for the second time this season, finishing fourth on his home track; but remains the Moto2 championship leader. Oliveira was fifth, ahead of Marini in sixth. Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) worked hard to tag on the back of the battling group, and passed Corsi in the closing stages taking seventh and leaving the Italian in eighth.
Rookie, Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was ninth ahead of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in 10th returning to the Moto2 after an old injury came back and left him out for a few rounds. Marcel Schrotter (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia), Isaac Vinales (BE-A-VIP Team), Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) and Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) collected the remainder of the championship points.
Morbidelli remains on top of the championship
Despite missing out on the podium, Morbidelli remains the championship leader with 113 points, but his lead is now down to 13 points over Luthi in second on 100. Marquez is third with 78 ahead of Oliveira, on 70 and Bagnaia is the highest placed rookie in fifth with 53 points. Pasinis’s win means he is sixth ahead of Aegerter, Nakagami, Marini and Corsi.