If the rain didn’t cause enough headaches for their premier class colleagues, the intermediate class had a nightmare decision to make, the race being declared wet, with dark clouds gathering above, but with a drying line persuading riders to swap to slicks. As if that drama wasn’t enough, poleman Joe Roberts got into trouble swapping tyres on the grid and was forced to start from the back of the grid – or would have started there, had the lights not gone off before the American made it into position. With one favourite out of contention before the race even started, it was a bittersweet race for Britain, Sam Lowes taking a long awaited victory after a heartbroken Jake Dixon abandoned the fight from the lead. Remy Gardner snatched second at the last possible moment from Marco Bezzecchi, after the Italian kept ahead for most of proceedings.
After Roberts’ mishap, Lowes was de facto pole but the Marc VDS rider could not take advantage off the line and Gardner made it to turn 1 first, ahead of Xavi Vierge, Jorge Martin and Lowes. Luca Marini made a steady start from the second row to only lose one position, while rival Enea Bastianini lost some more ground at the start, dropping down to 14th.
Gardner did not get much of a breather at the front, with attacks coming from Vierge and Lowes early on, the British rider starting the third lap in the lead. However, the lead group seemed to have already reduced to five names, Gardner, Dixon and Bezzecchi also in the mix, while Martin missed the boat by going wide, dropping over a second back and crashing out at turn 10 as he was pushing to catch up. That left Augusto Fernandez as the main pursuer, but over three seconds down and the same gap keeping him ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio. Quite a distance down the road, Marini and Bastianini were engaged in direct battle by lap five, the Italtrans rider progressing while the championship leader was going backwards.
Lowes did not have an easy time in the lead, getting Petronas branded headaches from Dixon and Vierge, but the latter simplified things as he highsided on the exit of turn 10. With Vierge out of contention, Lowes and Dixon were running away at the front, while Bezzecchi and Gardner struggled to keep up and dropped over three seconds back by lap seven. Things then got a bit hairy at the front for Lowes, his front locking going into turn 8 and allowing Dixon to grab the lead on lap seven, also handing him a three seconds advantage. With the battle for third comfortably behind him, Lowes pushed to reduce the gap to the leader but it looked like a tough ask. Meanwhile, Bezzecchi was fending off Gardner and Fernandez for the final podium spot, with Tom Luthi over 13 seconds back. Despite the confusing situation at the start, Roberts was knocking on the doors of the top ten for the final half of the race.
Lowes finally broke the one second barrier to Dixon with 13 long laps remaining, but Dixon responded beautifully with red hot laps that kept Lowes one second away until the closing stages. With Bezzecchi still holding off Gardner and Fernandez in the battle for third, the main action was coming from Roberts, who was sailing through the pack and climbed as high as seventh with five laps remaining.
Dixon looked in control for so long but disaster struck with four laps remaining, the Petronas rider sliding out at turn 14, handing compatriot Lowes the lead. Lowes brought it home safely to secure a long awaited victory, while Gardner sniffed around Bezzecchi on the final lap and it paid off at turn 13, the Australian taking second place away from the Italian. Fernandez and Luthi completed the top five, with Roberts a brilliant sixth given the circumstances, ahead of the Italian duo of Di Giannantonio and Lorenzo Baldassarri. Bastianini crossed the line ninth but got a three seconds penalty for taking the shortcut at turn 3, which dropped him to 11th, behind Somkiat Chantra and Marcel Schrotter.
Marini was out of point scoring positions by halfway stage and had a lonely ride to 17th place, but the Italian keeps the championship lead by 15 points from Bastianini, with teammate Bezzecchi 20 points behind. Lowes’s victory reduces his deficit significantly, 22 points down on Marini.
|7||21||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Speed Up||+32.249|
|14||62||Stefano Manzi||MV Agusta||+43.464|
|15||55||Hafizh Syahrin||Speed Up||+44.036|
|16||24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||+44.217|
|18||19||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Kalex||+1’09.735|
|22||74||Piotr Biesiekirski||NTS||1 Lap|
|99||Kasma Daniel||Kalex||0 Lap|
|96||Jake Dixon||Kalex||5 Laps|
|9||Jorge Navarro||Speed Up||7 Laps|
|11||Nicolò Bulega||Kalex||10 Laps|
|27||Andi Farid Izdihar||Kalex||20 Laps|
|97||Xavi Vierge||Kalex||21 Laps|
|88||Jorge Martin||Kalex||23 Laps|