The Moto2 class is the most evenly matched out of all of the World Championship classes. It comes down to the chassis and race setup of the 600cc machines. All have the same sealed Honda engine, and the same tyres… when it comes down to the race it exposes skill and experience at the various tracks.
At the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon, where the Moto2 class visited for the 14th round of the season, it was British rider Sam Lowes who dominated aboard his Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex, fending off the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS duo of Alex Marquez and Franco Morbidelli.
Lowes started the 14th round from pole on the grid
Having claiming pole position ahead of the race, Lowes felt confident that he would be one of the only riders who would be able to maintain the pace throughout the race. Marquez had looked strong all weekend also; however he had made several mistakes and was seen vsiting the run-off areas and gravel traps on several occasions.
The two shot away from the starting grid when the lights went out and it was Marquez who led into the first corner and initially in the first few corners of the race. Lowes was determined not to let him get away and he pursued him closely as the two broke away from the rest of the pack immediately.
Lowes takes the lead from Marquez
After several corners Lowes made his first attempt. He was desperate to take the lead but Marquez fought him off. However, when they came to the corkscrew he tried again and this time was successful. Lowes now led ahead of Marquez; the British rider went wide on the last turn of the first lap which allowed Marquez to close up to him but not overtake.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) who won the last round in Misano was third behind the duo, ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP), Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten),Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport), Morbidelli, Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) and Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40).
Mini battles among the front group
There were some changes behind the leaders during the second lap. Rins (whose mother prayed throughout the race in the pit garage) overtook Corsi to take ninth as Luthi passed Folger to claim fifth. Two groups had formed, the leaders followed by a group of four. Rins progressed further on the final corner of the second lap and carved through the riders ahead of him taking seventh ahead of Zarco and Moridelli.
Morbidelli then lost another position to Corsi as the Italian overtook him on turn one of lap three. Luthi made his way past Nakagami placing him in fourth leaving Nakagami to battle with Folger behind him. It was not long before he stole another place from Baldassarri taking him to third within the same lap. He began to catch the lead duo bringing Baldassarri, Nakagami and Folger with him. Rins was also gaining on Folger and as Luthi set the fastest lao, Rins began his move on the start finish straight and overtook Folger at turn one of lap five.
Zarco under pressure down in 10th
Zarco found himself under pressure from Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) for tenth position. Losing positions as Rins gained them was not what Zarco championship hopes needed with their being just four rounds that remain after this one. He and Rins are battling for the top spot as Lowes and Luthi try to close the gap as they battle for third.
Rear tyre issues for Britain’s Danny Kent
Towards the end of lap five Folger ran wide which resulted to him losing a place to Morbidelli who was now in eighth position. Meanwhile British Leopard Team rider Danny Kent, who was at the very back of the field, retired to the pits. He had issues with his rear tyre which he felt was overinflated. His team worked quickly to reduce the tyres (but keeping them within the tight constraints as recommended by the manufacturer) and he returned to the track to continue with the race.
Lowes extends his lead as the race for the championship lead becomes more intense
At the start of lap six, Nakagami overtook Baldassarri heading into turn one to take fourth. Folger lost another place. Baldassarri then became victim to Rins who passed him midway through the lap, and then Morbidelli shortly following pushing him further down the field. At the front Lowes had extended a lead to one second ahead of Marquez, as Morbidelli began a battle with Baldassarri for sixth.; he won and then overtook Rins bringing him up to fourth.
On the 10th lap, Baldassarri lined himself up to overtake Rins at the main straight to claim sixth. It didn't work out for the Italian, but a few corners later, he managed to pass the Spanish rider. This shook Rins, who completed a quicker lap, by 0.3 seconds, and was able to again pass Baldassarri. Zarco managed to overtake Folger eventually which prevented Rins from gaining more points than him. Morbidelli then overtook Nakagami and began his pursuit of Luthi.
Morbidelli on the move
By lap 14, Morbidelli was on Luthi’s tail. The Italian planned to use the slipstream to gain a tow and save him power for his move at the end of the street which he succeeded at. Luthi stayed tucked in behind Morbidelli hoping to retaliate soon. As he entered turn one of the next lap he went to overtake on the inside on entry of turn one but had to retreat.
Every time Rins made a move, Zarco managed to also. Having lost the position he previously took from Baldassarri, Rins again overtook him towards the end of the race as they battled for sixth. Zarco made his way past Corsi. He was soon able to catch Rins and Baldassarri who continued to battle up until the end of the race; he sat behind them waiting to strike should one of them make a mistake that proved detrimental to the either of them.
Morbidelli began pursuit of his teammate
Having being left alone throughout the race, Morbidelli who was third, was catching Marquez and was about to make things much harder for him. Morbidelli smashed the final laps as was on the tail of his teammate as they went about completing the last lap. Morbidelli attacked and momentarily took second, but Marquez retaliated. It was extremely close as they approached the finish line.
Lowes wins the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon Moto2 race
Lowes won the 2016 Moto2 race; having qualified on pole, he practically led from (almost) start to finish and won with a comfortable lead of over three seconds. It was Marquez who crossed the line in second behind him just 0.032 seconds ahead of his teammate Morbidelli who claimed the last spot on the podium when he crossed the line in third, making it a double podium for the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Team.
Fourth was Luthi ahead of Nakagami, and then Rins won the battle against Baldassarri to take sixth ahead of the Italian in seventh and Zarco finished up behind them in eighth. Corsi was the fastest Speed Up rider in ninth ahead of Folger who completed the top ten. In the closing stages Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) passed Pasini to take 11th, Pasini was 12th and Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact gp), Hafitzh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) and Marcel Schortter (AGR Team) collected the remainder of the championship points available.
Pons just misses out on the points
Just outside the points was Schrotter’s teammate Axel Pons in 16th ahead of Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) as the fastest Tech 3 rider, and wildcard rider Steven Odendall making an appearance also for the AGR Team. He finished ahead of Remy Gardner (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) and Jesko Raffin (Sports-Millions-EWME-SAG) who completed the top 20.
Julian Simon (QMMF Racing) was 21st ahead of Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) who returned from injury to finish 22nd. Wildcard rider Tetsuta Nagashima (Ajo Motorsport Academy) was 23rd ahead of Edgar Pons (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), Luca Marini (Forward Team) and Ratthapart Wilairot (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) in 26th. Robin Mulhauser (CarXpert Interwetten), Isaac Vinales (Tech 3 Racing) and Kent completed the grid as the other wildcard rider Alan Techer (NTS T Pro Project) did not classify retiring after 14 laps.
How the championship looks…
The results from the Aragon round of the Moto2 means that Zarco clings on to his championship lead by just one point. He is top with 202 points, where Rins is on 201. Lowes closed the gap on the two with 3his win and is third with 62 points. Luthi remains in fourth on 154 points and Morbidelli is fifth on 141 points.