ASSEN. FlexBox HP40’s Augusto Fernandez claimed a maiden Grand Prix win in the most dramatic of circumstances at the Motul TT Assen after teammate Lorenzo Baldassarri took out Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) with two laps remaining in the fight for the lead. The Spaniard managed to escape the chaos and take the chequered flag in what was one of the best Moto2™ races of the season.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder took the holeshot and fought off interest from behind, meaning KTM had finally led a lap in Moto2™ for the first time in 2019. Poleman Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) didn’t get the greatest start but set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 2 to move into second. Then, the Australian would have a huge moment on the exit of Turn 5 and as a result would slip down the order to fifth. Meanwhile, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini) and Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) were moving into contention behind Binder. On lap seven, Lowes would dive through on Binder for the lead, but a slight mistake allowed Binder and Vierge to dive for a gap with the trio making contact. That allowed Fernandez to burst into the fight at the front by claiming third.
The race was beginning to resemble a Moto3™ scrap with no fewer than nine riders forming a lead group, with moves being made at every possible opportunity. Ten laps ticked by and the poleman Gardner made a big mistake at Turn 4 to slip down to twelfth before his race would come to a sudden end, on the same lap at the Geert Timmer Chicane, when the front end folded on him. Just two laps later, another contender went down after Lowes got tangled up with Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin, cutting short the Brit’s charge. After a disappointing weekend, title protagonist Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) then also crashed out on the same lap. Then, Martin would crash out as well, in what was turning into a race of attrition.
Nine frantic laps were left and Binder would start to break clear, taking full advantage of some bumping and barging out of the final chicane. The South African was over a second clear but Championship leader Marquez wasn’t going to let him escape. In just two laps Marquez closed him in and was looking favourite to make it a fantastic fourth win on the bounce. However, the EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider brought the FlexBox HP40 pair of Baldassarri and Fernandez along with him, meaning we were treated to an eight-wheel scrap for the win as we moved into the closing stages. Behind, Vierge would go down on the exit of Turn 5 and took Italtrans Racing Team’s Enea Bastianini with him in a scary incident.
Then, with two laps remaining, the race-defining moment would unfold. With Binder already having been usurped as the race leader by Marquez, fellow Championship contender Baldassarri tried to squeeze past into Turn 4 but the front end folded, and the pair would go down. A livid Marquez would berate the Italian in the gravel trap, meanwhile, Fernandez fortuitously accepted the lead. The 21-year-old would take the chequered flag and a debut victory. He was joined on the podium by the battling Binder, for the first time this season, and SKY Racing Team VR46’s Luca Marini.
Dynavolt Intact GP’s Thomas Lüthi came across the line in fourth and, following the nil points for Marquez, Baldassarri and Navarro, the Swiss rider will head to the Sachsenring as the new Moto2™ World Championship leader; now six points clear of Marquez.
ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Tetsuta Nagashima claimed a career-best finish in fifth, ahead of Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) and Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward), who moved through from dead last on the grid to take MV Agusta's best result on their return to Grand Prix racing. Rounding out the top ten were Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP), Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3).
Augusto Fernandez: P1
"Today has been incredible. Going from so far back is always more complicated but it’s a more interesting race. In the morning in the warm up we already knew that we had rhythm to be ahead. The key has been the first laps and try to overcome the maximum positions. Once I reached the front group I saw that I could not break the group so I knew it would be a fun endgame. Finally I got the victory and it's amazing, I'm very happy. A year ago we worked together with the team and being in front is already the result of the good work we are doing and we must continue. Thanks to the team again and the sponsors. "
Xavi Vierge: N.C.
"It’s a pity! But we have to take the positive things. We did a great job all weekend. I did a great race and was fighting for the victory until the last five laps when I crashed. Baldassarri overtook me and I was preparing a move on him when Fernandez pushed me out. I lost the front wheel and I couldn’t save the crash. It was a shame. But anyway I’m really, really happy. We made a big step. I enjoyed the race a lot until the incident but it’s like that. We need to take the positives and stay in the same rhythm for the next races. I want to say thanks to my team because they believe in me and they did an amazing job."
Simone Corsi: N.C.
"It was a difficult weekend, even though I started from a backward position but I wanted to try to reach the points zone in the race. Unfortunately on the second lap, after passing Bendsneyder, I felt a blow from behind and found myself on the ground. I am determined to do better at the Sachsenring circuit historically favorable for me!"