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GP Week : Issue 154
Conditions were streaming for Moto2, but surprisingly there was only one faller at the first tight chicane – Simone Corsi, although another three crashed into each other by the end of the first lap. Pol Espargaro (Pons Kalex) led away and took a second’s gap on the first lap, with Scott Redding (Marc VDS Kalex) heading the pursuit. The Spaniard stayed up front as they shuffled behind him, but Thomas Luthi (Inter wetten Suter) had passed Redding on the third lap, and now he took over and immediately started to pull clear. He was 1.4 seconds ahead after just one lap, and kept stretching as Espargaro dropped to the back of an eight-strong chase group after running wide. He would continue to lose places to the end. At half distance a real challenge emerged, as class rookie Johann Zarco (JIR Motobi) again cheered the French fans by emerging from the pack, shaking off Claudio Corti (Italtrans Kalex) and closing fast on the leader. On lap 18 the gap was more than three seconds; two laps later it was down to one. Luthi responded, gaining a couple of tenths next time round ... then it was all over for his French challenger, as he joined the growing crash list. Luthi’s first win of the year was in the end by better than six seconds from Corti, with Redding surviving in third, after seeing off a late challenge from Andrea Iannone (Speedmaster). Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Kalex) came through to head a frantic pursuit pack, five-strong ... until they reached the last corner. There Bradley Smith (Tech 3) and Julian Simon (Suter) both crashed out, leaving sixth to Espargaro and seventh to erstwhile group leader Anthony West (Moriwaki). Smith remounted to take tenth behind Neukirchner (Kalex) and Wilairot (Suter); Simon pushed from there to the line, to save 13th place. Marc Marquez (Suter) had been biding his time in the big front pack in the early stages, and was up to fourth on lap ten when he became another casualty. Espargaro took a single point lead in the championship, 71 points to Marquez’s 70; Luthi (68) is closing; then Iannone (46) and Redding (44). Four-strokes leak oil. Or they can do. Combine that with steady rain and a maelstrom of manic youngsters and you have the recipe for a wild race, with six different leaders ... five of whom crashed out. Sole survivor was first-time winner Louis Rossi (FTR Honda). And by the end he was not just alone, but almost half a minute clear. There were more than 20 crashes, some riders more than once, as the 33-strong field battled worsening conditions. The first leader was Malaysia’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin (KTM), but he was soon fading as veteran Hector Faubel (Kalex KTM) took over on lap three, handing over briefly to Luis Salom (Kalex KTM) before heading a seven- strong pack until half distance. Jakub Kornfeil (FTR Honda) was in third when he slipped off at almost the same time s Faubel, handing the lead to Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira (Suter Honda) . . . but he lasted only three laps before he also fell out on a track growing increasingly slippery. Now it was the turn of pole starter Maverick Vinales (FTR Honda), but only for one lap before he also hit the deck. The only one left was Rossi, better than 22 seconds ahead. For eight laps the crowd enjoyed the tension of waiting to see if he could manage to be the one to stay upright. He did so, to win by a yawning 27 seconds, from Alberto Moncayo (Kalex KTM) and Alex Rins (Suter Honda), who had a big last-lap battle with Italian rookie Niccolo Antonelli (FTR Honda). Australian rookie Arthur Sissis (KTM) was an impressive fifth; Sandro Cortese (KTM) also fell but managed to keep the engine running, remounting for sixth. Top rookie Romano Fenati (FTR Honda) was an early casualty; there were only 15 finishers. Cortese extended is points lead, 67 to Vinales 55 and Salom’s 49. Fenati and Rins are next on 45 and 44. MOTO2 LUTHI STRETCHES MARQUEZ TO BREAKING POINT MOTO3 FRENCH DELIGHT MOTOGP >>> LE MANS 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: