The intermediate class race got underway under a spotless sky in Valencia and the victor proved perhaps harder to predict than in the lightweight class this time out. Jorge Martin had a rollercoaster ride to victory, the Spaniard leading into turn 1, then dropping out of podium contention before striking back and claiming a second victory of the season on the very last lap. An equally impressive performance came from compatriot Hector Garzo, who turned a first front row start into a well-deserved first podium on home soil. After his European GP victory, Marco Bezzecchi looked like the fastest man for much of the race once more, but had to surrender to the Spaniards on the final lap.
Bezzecchi had made a great start off the line but Martin’s was even better and the Spaniard went from the second row of the grid to first into turn one, ahead of poleman Stefano Manzi and Fabio Di Giannantonio, while Bezzecchi was pushed to fourth by Martin’s move for the lead. Championship leader Enea Bastianini was quick to join the top 10, while rival Sam Lowes made a cautious start and was out of the top 20 early on.
By lap 3, a lead group including Martin, Di Giannantonio, Manzi and Bezzecchi was a few tenths ahead of the sizeable next group led by Marcel Schrotter, Garzo and Luca Marini and notably including Bastianini. The gap between the groups hovered around the eight tenths mark for the next few laps and the man on the move was Bezzecchi, who got past his compatriots to challenge Martin for the lead by lap six. The Italian got past at turn 14 and Di Giannantonio further demoted Martin soon after. Manzi was still in touch with the leaders but not close enough to attack, while Schrotter and Garzo were pushing to reduce the gap to half a second by lap 7. Title rivals Marini and Bastianini were engaged in direct battle for 7th place another half a second back.
The top three men held station for the next few laps, Bezzecchi ahead of Di Giannantonio and Martin, but their main challenger at that stage was Garzo, who tagged along to the podium battle by lap 10. The Spaniard’s pace dropped Manzi one second back and the Italian came under threat from Schrotter, Marini, Bastianini and Jorge Navarro. However, Manzi’s fairytale did not end at the hands of his rivals but in the gravel trap at turn 2 on the very next lap, which left Schrotter with the task of reeling in the leaders.
Back ahead, Bezzecchi continued to lead from Di Giannantonio, with Garzo becoming their main challenger, the Spaniard dropping compatriot Martin at the halfway mark of proceedings. Martin’s day seemed to be getting worse as the strong group led by Schrotter quickly caught up with him. With 10 laps to go, it looked like only Di Giannantonio had the speed to challenge leader Bezzecchi, as Garzo dropped one second back, with Martin under attack another second back. That particular battle reduced in numbers for final 8 laps as Navarro crashed out after going wide into turn 1, promoting Bastianini into 7th place, but the Italian did not look like progressing further as his gap to Marini kept growing.
Bezzecchi wasn’t shown a wheel until six laps were left on the board, Di Giannantonio briefly getting past at turn 11 but Bezzecchi breezed back past at turn 14 after his compatriot ran wide. The action at the front allowed the chasers to come within half a second of the victory battle and Martin seemed to have found some late race pace, getting past Garzo to claim third. Schrotter and Marini weren’t too far back, but Bastianini dropped over a second behind, into a safe 7th position as the next group led by Bo Bendsneyder was nearly 6 seconds down the road. Lowes made slow but steady progress into the top 20 and joined point scoring positions with 4 laps left, aided by a late crash from Aron Canet.
The final handful of laps were the calm before the storm, until Di Giannantonio attacked once again at turn 11 with 2 laps remaining and this time he made it stick, starting the final lap in the lead. However, that was not the end of the story for the Italian, as he crashed from the lead once more at turn 6. The left Bezzecchi at the front but vulnerable to an attack from Martin, who forced his way past at turn 12 and a moment from Bezzecchi at turn 13 also encouraged Garzo to sneak past. The class rookie then challenged his leading compatriot until the finish line, which Martin reached first by only seven hundredths of a second. Garzo still secured a sensational podium, with Bezzecchi having to settle for third. Schrotter was best of the rest, a solid fourth ahead of Marini. Bastianini secured sixth, with Gardner, Bendsneyder, Nicolo Bulega and Lorenzo Baldassarri rounding out the top 10. Lowes set a good pace despite his injury and bravely finished the race in 14th, grabbing 2 crucial points.
Bastianini’s consistency keeps him 14 points ahead of Lowes in the championship standings, with Marini 18 points down and Bezzecchi’s last lap costing him in the title battle as well, where he is 23 points behind going into the season finale.
|17||24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||+26.947|
|19||55||Hafizh Syahrin||Speed Up||+42.068|
|21||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Speed Up||1 Lap|
|57||Edgar Pons||Kalex||2 Laps|
|44||Aron Canet||Speed Up||4 Laps|
|9||Jorge Navarro||Speed Up||8 Laps|
|19||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Kalex||11 Laps|
|62||Stefano Manzi||MV Agusta||15 Laps|
|27||Andi Farid Izdihar||Kalex||17 Laps|
|42||Marcos Ramirez||Kalex||19 Laps|