KTM Ajo takes a one-two as the World Championship battle tightens right up

Augusto Fernandez has dominated the Moto2™ Race at the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland while Pedro Costa made it a Red Bull KTM Ajo one-two after a thrilling, four-rider battle for the minor placings. Fernandez hit the front on Lap 6 at the Sachsenring and led by as much as nine seconds before he eased off on the 28th and final lap. Pole-sitter Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) passed Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) on the penultimate tour to snare the final podium place while World Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) failed to score points after crashing out of 11th position.

Lowes converts pole into the lead

Lowes was looking to end a run of five straight zeroes outs after he qualified on pole, and the Briton duly converted that starting berth into the early lead. German Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) came from fifth on the grid to emerge in second position in the opening corners of his home race, ahead of Fernandez, Albert Arenas (GASGAS Aspar Team), and Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team). Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40), however, had dropped from sixth to 12th and Vietti from eighth to 10th.

Acosta moved into the top five when he got by Roberts on Lap 3 at Turn 1 and, after it looked like Lowes and Schrötter might break away from the pack, Fernandez took matters into his own hands. For three laps in a row, he seized a position by taking the tight line through Turn 3, getting Arenas on Lap 4, Schrötter on Lap 5, and then Lowes for the lead on Lap 6.

Near the end of that sixth lap, Acosta went underneath Arenas for fourth spot at Turn 12, and he was into the podium places at the end of Lap 7 after Schrötter had a big rear end moment as he opened the throttle exiting Turn 13. The German briefly dropped to fifth due to the near-crash but he reclaimed one of those positions when he outbraked Arenas as they arrived at Turn 1 again, and kept himself in contention for a rostrum finish.

Fernandez, who had been quickest in Friday Free Practice, was wasting no time in pressing home his advantage at the front of the field. He galloped to a one-second lead on Lap 8, and had doubled that in just three laps more. Lowes continued to run in second spot and Acosta in third, as Schrötter came under pressure from Arenas. By then, Canet had recovered as far as sixth position, but Vietti was having a much tougher task of it as he fought to try and get back into the top 10.

In fact, Vietti had slumped as far back as 14th when he was passed by Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team) on Lap 14, before Lowes handed over second position to Acosta when he had a rear moment on Lap 15 at Turn 3. Meanwhile, Fernandez was not letting up and his gap over second place had grown to four seconds.

Still, the rest of the top 10 positions were hotly contested under the baking sun at the Sachsenring and Canet, who started the weekend far from full fitness after a recent road car accident, ceded sixth position to Fermin Aldeguer on Lap 16. Three laps later, he had lost seventh position to Aldeguer’s MB Conveyors Speed Up team-mate, Alonso Lopez, a sign he might have been beginning to struggle with the physical toll.

Vietti folds as the battle for the podium lights up

Then, it was one of Canet’s key rivals in the World Championship who relegated him another spot. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), who only qualified 14th, had passed Vietti for 12th in a key move in the context of the title fight on Lap 5, was into the top 10 on Lap 12, and then overtook Canet for eighth on Lap 20 at Turn 1.

Aldeguer got into the top five by passing Arenas, but the next really big moment was Vietti dropping his VR46 entry at Turn 1. The Italian looked to have completed a pass on Gonzalez for 11th position at the start of Lap 22 but folded his front tyre and hit the deck. The World Championship had just got even tighter due to a zero for Vietti.

Fernandez was a thumping seven seconds to the good at that point, but Lowes and Schrötter were coming back into the reckoning for second position, which was still being held by Acosta but under a track limits warning. Lowes passed the Spaniard on Lap 25 at Turn 12, but Acosta hit back on the next lap at Turn 2. That was not the end of the story, with the pole-sitter going through again at Turn 11, only for the rookie to respond once more with a pass at the very next corner.

All of that dicing turned a duel into a four-rider battle as Schrötter and Aldeguer closed in. The German got by Lowes at the start of the penultimate lap but the Marc VDS rider returned the favour at the end of it. It seemed like it could hardly get any closer but then it did get as close as possible – literally – when Lowes and Acosta had a touch as they ran from Turn 12 to the 13th and final corner on the 28th and final lap of the race.

Acosta hung on to claim second position around the bend at the chequered flag, 7.704 seconds behind team-mate Fernandez but 0.140 seconds up on Lowes. Schrötter was only another 0.115 seconds behind again, and Aldeguer crossed the stripe 0.210 seconds further in arrears. He would then have three seconds added to his race time for failure to observe a Long Lap penalty, but it made no difference to the final outcome as the Boscoscuro pilot was classified fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Arenas, Lopez, Ogura, Canet, and Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team). The rest of the points finishers were Jake Dixon (GASGAS Aspar Team), Gonzalez, Roberts, Cameron Beaubier (American Racing), and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia).

In the World Championship, Vietti is still on top, but his gap over Ogura has been cut to just eight points. Fernandez’s win puts him into third at only 12 points back from the Italian, and Canet also chipped away to sit 17 points off the pace at the halfway mark of the season.

It makes the last round before the summer break all the more important, so make sure you don’t miss the Motul TT Assen on June 24-26!

1. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – 28 laps
2. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 7.704
3. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 7.844
4. Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 7.959
5. Fermín Aldeguer (MB Conveyors Speed Up) + 11.169
6. Albert Arenas (GASGAS Aspar Team) + 11.635
7. Alonso Lopez (MB Conveyors Speed Up) + 12.805
8. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 13.639
9. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) + 13.764
10. Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 13.800

VideoPass allows you to watch every single second of every single sector LIVE and OnDemand

By admin