Bike Racing

Moto2: Italian GP race report.

Miguel Olivera won at a crazy Mugello, dashing hopes of an Italian win in a typical action packed race in the Tuscan hills.

Marcel Schrotter took the holeshot from his second place qualifying position, pulling several bike lengths before crashing at turn 2. This meant Alex Marquez led from Francesco Bagnaia, who was decked out in his special Mugello colours, followed by Olivera and Romano Fenati. Then came the typical turn 1 chaos after the straight, and positions changed left and right. Bagnaia emerged as the leader and looked to break away instantly. Joan Mir was making good progress, working his way up to sixth, as Olivera decided he wasn’t going to let Bagnaia escape and duly passed him. Mir passed Fenati to become top rookie, and he was the man on the move. Sam Lowes was very unfortunate to get tangled up with the Schrotter incident, and would be dead last, giving himself an awful lot to do. It became a train of seven at the front with Lorenzo Baldassarri joining the fun with 18 laps to go, as Bo Bendsneyder retired his Tech 3 machine.

With 17 laps to go, Marquez blinked first and made a mistake, allowing Mir and Baldassarri to pass him. This promoted the magical Mir to fourth place, as the sole Gresini Kalex of Jorge Navarro crashed at turn 5. Passing would then take the lead through Casanova and Sevelli, he seemed to be able to pass at those corners at will, as evidenced last year when he passed Marquez to win. It had soon become a front four, as Marquez, Baldassarri and Fenati were quickly losing touch. Lowes’ weekend would get much worse when he crashed at turn 2 with 15 laps remaining. Stefano Manzi and Fenati would both give Italian hopes a hit when Manzi crashed out and Fenati broke his Kalex on the same lap. Bagnaia would put a very hard move on Olivera at Casanova to go second, as Baldassarri stamped his authority on Mir to take fourth place at turn 1. Danny Kent would crash at turn 1, losing the front as he had to take evasive action to avoid Iker Lecuona.

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With only 10 laps remaining, Pasini seemed to want to check out, and pulled the pin. He was aided even further by both Olivera and Baldassarri deciding Bagnaia’s pace wasn’t good enough and passing him, shuffling him down to fourth. With eight to go, the first big mistake came, as Pasini dropped it at turn 1. It seemed like the heat had gotten to the tyres, as the pace seemed to be dropping by over a second. The man with the pace at this point was Baldassarri, and he attempted to pass Olivera at Casanova\Sevelli but went wide and allowed the KTM back through at Arribbiata 1. He would then make the pass one lap later into turn 1. There was other Italian interest in the top ten, as Luca Marini and Andrea Locatelli were both inside the top eight. Hector Barbara would try and make an impossible move on Tetsuta Nagashima and take them both down at turn 5, which would be investigated by the stewards as Olivera would show his hand and re-pass Baldassarri with five laps to go.

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It seemed like the leaders were holding each other up with four laps remaining, as they were trading places almost every corner and allowing Bagnaia to close in, bringing Mir and Marquez with him. The gap would come down from 1.6s to 0.6, then to nothing as Bagnaia latched onto the rear wheel of the KTM. Mir would be clinging on by his fingertips, but did not seem to have the pace sat there in fourth. He would close in however, at the trio at the front would hold each other up.

On the final lap, Mir would shuffle Bagnaia down to fourth at turn 1, as Olivera passed Baldassarri for the lead at Casanova after a mistake from the Pons rider, which saw his bike buck and weave like a disgruntled bull. Olivera would then hold the lead to the line, clearing off despite extreme pressure from the following three riders. Bagnaia attempted to put himself on the podium at Bucine, the final corner but could not find a gap to get through. Baldassarri and Mir would therefore complete the podium, moving Bagnaia off the podium but still keeping his championship lead very healthy.

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It seemed like the top four riders were establishing themselves as the class of the 2018 Moto2 field, as Mir got his second consecutive podium finish in a row, and Baldassarri moved up to third in the championship. Does this mean Marquez has missed his boat for a MotoGP seat? This was considered to be his best chance to win the title, but he is being shown up by his far more inexperienced team mate at present.

With the paddock going on to Spanish turf next at Catalunya, will we see the first win for Mir? Or will the Portuguese and Italian riders not let him get there? Find out here on Overtake Motorsport!

Full results here.

Championship standings here.

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