The riders took to the grid and some reported that the lights flashed causing them to react, however many stopped and launched again when the lights went out.
A race with plenty of controversy
It was 2015 Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco who reacted first and other riders reacted to his false start. Immediately some riders were penalised with a ride through penalty including Zarco, Sam Lowes, Alex Rins and Marcel Schrotter. Later on in the race Takaaki Nakagami and Robin Mulhauser were given ride-through penalties.
It was German rider Jonas Folger who made a great start and looked to be riding away with it during the first lap as he was able to create a gap. Dynavolt Intact GP Racing Team decided to expand their team this season and got Folger to join Sandro Cortese. He had increased the gap to 1.5 seconds and then fell off during lap two ending his chances to make the perfect start with his team.
This meant that Garage Plus Interwetten rider Thomas Luthi could take the lead as he had previously overtaken British Federal Oil Gresini rider Lowes. Franco Morbidelli soon overtook Lowes on his EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex and continued to battle with Luthi throughout the rest of the race. They were followed by Nagami on his IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex and Speed Up Racing Team rider Simone Corsi and Folger’s teammate, Cortese.
Then the penalties came, forcing Lowes, Zarco, Rins and Schrotter to complete a ride-through penalty leaving them at the back of the pack. Mid-way through the race Nakagami and Mulhauser received their penalties.
Sam Lowes impresses despite penalty
This did not stop the riders from starting to make their way through the grid. Lowes had a fantastic ride despite his penalty and he managed to make his way to ninth overall. He almost came off at one point, but this result proves he had the chance to win the race had he not been penalised at the start where a red flag and restart should have been reconsidered. The lap record of 1:59.421 is now held by Lowes which he achieved during lap 20.
The 2015 Moto2 Champion Zarco also managed to make his way up the grid to finish 12th, whilst Nakagami finished 14th overall, Cortese 15th, Schrotter 17th and Mulhauser 20th.
Injured Alex Marquez (E,G 0,0 Marc VDS), Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team), Axel Pons (AGR Team) all crashed out of the first round of the 2016 season, they all were fortunately unhurt.
Battle for the lead
The battle continued at the front between Morbidelli and Luthi who both led at some point. They led the second group by seven seconds that consisted of Cortese and Corsi. As we approached the last few laps it came through from the officials that Morbidelli and Cortese were under investigation for the false start. They later received a 20 second penalty and so although they finished near the front this left them further down the field in the overall results.
Luthi took the win follows by SAG Team rider Luis Salom, Speed Up Racing Team rider Corsi, Petronas Raceline Malaysia Hafizh Syahrin, and Car Xpert Interwetten Team rider Dominique Aegerter. They finished above the 2015 Moto2 Champion Danny Kent; he is still riding for the Leopard Racing Team who decided to expand their team and take on Moto2 as well as Moto3 this year.
There was a lot of confusion to who finished where at the end of the race due to the penalties that occurred during different stages in the race. The fact that some received a ride-through penalty early on and some on received only a time penalty will have caused some controversy and it will not surprise me to hear that appeals will have been sent to officials about this.