Philipp Oettl takes his first Grand Prix win after avoiding the drama further down the pack.
The action hit fever pitch in Jerez with scrappy fighting, horrendous falls and a grid reshuffle before the race even began. Andrea Migno, Adam Norrodin and Jeremy Alcoba were all hit with a 12 place grid penalty for irresponsible riding during yesterday’s qualifying session. This pushed Migno’s impressive sixth place qualifying position back to 18th while Alcoba and Norrodin only moved two places into 28th and 29th.
There was barely time to get comfortable before the action began as during lap one, John McPhee made contact with the rear of Leopard Racing’s Lorenzo Dalla Porta at turn two, collecting Dennis Foggia and Kazuki Masaki as collateral damage. McPhee, Masaki and Dalla Porta were able to rejoin but Foggia’s race was over within a matter of seconds. McPhee and Dalla Porta only managed one additional lap before they both retired, along with wildcard Alcoba who sustained damage during the incident. Foggia is currently under observations by the medical team but no decision about his condition has been released.
Enea Bastianini was lucky to keep his bike upright as he ran wide at turn six, hitting the kerb and almost high siding himself. An unsuspecting Marco Bezzecchi became a leaning post for the Italian as brief contact between the two kept him from going down.
Alonso Lopez was having a stellar race with impressive pace, putting in the fastest lap and running in second until a mistake at turn nine during lap three saw him run wide into the gravel and drop back to 16th position.
Tony Abolino, the pole man for Argentina, finally flexed his muscles and showed his true potential by fighting his way from 20th to an amazing second. Unfortunately, he was unable to keep a hold of the position as a reckless move from Aron Canet saw him lose the front end of the bike, wiping out his championship rival Jorge Martin as well as Bastianini and Arbolino. The incident is currently under investigation but this is the second incident that Canet has been involved in this season after he walked away from his collision with Maker Yurchenko in Argentina without a penalty. Martin and Arbolino have been declared fit to ride by the medical team but Bastianini is still under observations.
The fight for the podium went down to the wire as Kaito Toba looked to be on course to take the last step on the podium until he made contact with Lopez, dropping him back to ninth. Bezzecchi was promoted from sixth to second after the lap 18 incident but he wasn’t going to let Oettl take an easy win, chasing him to the final moment and ended with a gap of just 0.059 between the pair.
Oettl, Bezzecchi and Lopez finished the 22 lap race in first, second and third respectively. However, a one place penalty for continuously exceeding track limits saw Lopez lose his podium finish and Marcos Ramirez promoted onto the final step. The 16-year-old Spaniard was obviously devastated to lose the podium place at his home GP as he was seen looking very emotional in his garage.
Oettl put in a blinding performance to fend off Bezzecchi and put his Sudmetal Schedi GP Racing KTM bike into first and was finally able to grace the top step. The 22-year-old German, who celebrated his birthday on Thursday, was unable to keep the smile off his face and joy out of his voice during the post-race interviews, describing it as ‘the best gift’ and thanking his team for all their hard work.
Bezzecchi’s second place points take him to the top of the championship standings going into the French GP. The Italian described his race as ‘difficult’ but he ‘tried to stay calm but (he) made a small mistake on the last lap’. He then went on to thank his team, KTM and the VR46 academy.
Ramirez put in an outstanding performance to take his Bester Capital Dubai KTM bike from 17th into third. He described his home podium finish as ‘a present’ when interviewed in Parc Ferme. His third-place points move him into 13th in the championship standings.
Full results here.
With a fortnight till the French GP, will Martin be able to regain his composure or will the red mist still be lying? Only four races in, the championship fight can only get hotter.
Aron Canet will start the French GP from last on the grid following the lap 18 incident which saw four riders crash out.