Moto2: Baldassarri extends title lead with Jerez win

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Lorenzo Baldassarri has laid further serious groundwork for his assault on the 2019 Moto2 crown in Jerez, winning a shortened race ahead of COTA podium finisher and form man Jorge Navarro. Baldassarri’s teammate Augusto Fernandez, who returned from injury at his home Grand Prix, put in a stunning ride to his first ever podium as he took third.

The race was cut to 15 laps after a first start saw a chaotic first two corners with multiple-rider incidents, and first faller Remy Gardner was unable to make the restart, as was Dimas Ekky Pratama . In addition, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), who couldn’t avoid contact with Gardner’s bike, was forced to restart from pitlane at his home Grand Prix – but was unable to do better than 24th despite a heroic effort.

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However, it was a disappointing Sunday for Brit Sam Lowes, with the Federal Oil Gresini rider crashing out of the battle for the top ten. He said afterwards: “It has been a very difficult weekend because this is a track I really like and where I’m normally very competitive. I was expecting to be quick this time too, but it was all ups and downs. We were quick in one session but then not so much in the following one. Things didn’t go well at all during warm up, but then the situation improved during the race. We were still missing some grip, but the crash was my mistake – nothing wrong with the bike. I was too fast entering turn nine and then I crashed. We didn’t have the pace to win but surely to be in the top six. We now have to focus on the test in order to better understand the new tyres and be 100% ready for Le Mans.”

Navarro backs up Friday pace with pole position

Jorge Navarro has continued his strong form on the Speed Up machine at Jerez into qualifying for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix, taking the top spot for tomorrow’s race in the middleweight class. He’ll start alongside Alex Marquez and Augusto Fernandez on an all-Spanish front row at the southern circuit.

The second row is headed by an Australian, however, with Remy Gardner leading a duo of Italians in the shape of Nicolo Bulega and Lorenzo Baldassarri. The top ten was rounded out by Fabio Di Giannantonio, Tom Luthi, Tetsuta Nakashima and Brad Binder on the first of the KTM machines.

Sole Brit Sam Lowes was 11th, disappointed with his result but quick to stress it’s not as bad as it looks, saying: “I’m disappointed with qualifying because this morning we made a good step and I was fast both on new and used tyres. Track temperature was a little bit hotter this afternoon – but not as hot as yesterday – but we struggled a lot and that was quite surprising.

“Eleventh place is not the end of the world and it’s still possible to fight for a good race result, but we need to understand why we lost a little bit of grip. I’m still positive for the race because it’s a track I really like. Race pace is good also with used tyres, but we need a good feeling from the beginning otherwise late-race speed would be useless. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”

Navarro continues strong form in Jerez

Jorge Navarrro has continued his strong run of form in Moto2 to end the first day of action at the Spanish Grand Prix fastest overall, just holding off a rapidly improved Red Bull KTM package with Brad Binder onboard, just ahead of rookie teammate Jorge Martin in third.

However, it was a more difficult day for the class’ sole Brit Sam Lowes, with 18th the best he could manage despite being one of only four riders able to improve as the temperatures skyrocketed in the afternoon. Speaking afterwards, though, he says he’s not too worried about what’s to come.

“We are using bigger tyres now, new for everybody, so like 50% of the information from testing is lost. Anyway, it wasn’t a bad day; we finished ninth in the afternoon session and I feel that if we log a good lap-time in the morning we can be much closer to the front. I’ll look through the data because we need to find a better feeling on corner entry. I’m struggling in the second split and in turns 10, 11 and 12 and that’s strange, because normally those are very good points for me. I’ll look through the information available and we’ll find a way to be faster tomorrow”.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer