MotoGP Assen: Fernandez fights back for fourth KTM Moto2 one-two

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Red Bull KTM’s Raul Fernandez fought back from an early mistake to claim the third victory of his rookie Moto2 season at the Dutch GP this afternoon.

Remy Gardner completed the set once again for the Ajo squad with Augusto Fernandez denying his Marc VDS teammate in the closing stages for the final podium position. Sam Lowes settling for fourth after leading at mid-race distance.

Joe Roberts and Jake Dixon lined up for the 24-lap race with two issues to solve. Poor qualifying left the pair 19th and 22nd on the grid respectively with the further complication of a long lap penalty each - Roberts for crashing under yellow flags last time out in Germany, and Dixon for his part in Augusto Fernandez’s crash in the same race. Hector Garzo unfortunately declared unfit to race due to a positive covid test after qualifying sixth.

Raul Fernandez headed the pack, and his teammate, from pole position with Lowes completing the front row as the battle approached. Lights out igniting the action as Aron Canet bettered the KTMs to take the lead. Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Tony Arbolino crashing out on the opening lap at turns five and seven respectively.

Lowes was challenging the Aspar man out front but Canet retained the lead as the second lap got underway, Gardner finding his way through on the Brit as Ai Ogura advanced to fourth, Augusto Fernandez up to fifth as the pole-man ran off track and dropped to ninth.

There was frustration for home-hero Bo Bendsneyder as the Dutchman was issued a double long lap penalty after a jump start with Roberts sliding out at turn nine before he’d even had a chance to take his long lap.

Gardner was in charge as lap four began, pursued by a pair of Marc VDS machines as Lowes headed Fernandez, with Canet and Ogura battling half a second behind. The second KTM was recovering fast as Fernandez improved to fifth by the end of lap six, Gardner dropping to third as he came together with Lowes on the exit of the final chicane, and the second VDS machine picked up the spoils.

Fernandez had a mere one-tenth lead over Lowes as lap seven developed, the Australian dropping half a second back as his own teammate advanced again to fourth.

Lowes took charge at the final chicane next time around, immediately pulling clear of Fernandez as Gardner too, took his advantage on the Spaniard to claim second at turn five. Fabio Di Giannantonio sat fifth from Ogura, Canet, Marco Bezzecchi and Marcel Schrotter with Jorge Navarro completing the top-10 with 16 laps to go.

Lowes continued to lead as Gardner began to hunt him down, the Fernandez pair running equally hot pace as they looked to join the fight, with Di Giannantonio fading almost two-seconds back.

It was another Marc VDS one-two at the halfway stage as Gardner ran wide into turn four, the Australian dispatched into the clutches of the rookie as Fernandez pushed hard. Bezzecchi improving to sixth as Dixon did likewise further back in 19th. Simone Corsi and Marcos Ramirez hit with a long lap after cutting the final chicane.

Fernandez took the lead as he advanced on Lowes, his namesake doing likewise for third as the inter-team battles mirrored each other into the first corner of lap 14. Bezzecchi taking fifth two laps later.

The younger Fernandez attacked Lowes at turn one with nine laps remaining, claiming second as Di Giannantonio crashed out of contention eight corners later. The namesakes building a half-second gap out front before Lowes pushed hard to regroup, Gardner looking to bridge a similar gap from fourth.

Raul was in charge two-laps later as Lowes took a look at his teammate, Dixon receiving his second penalty of the day after taking a shortcut through the chicane.

The leading Brit got the better of his teammate as lap 19 wound down, with Fernandez increasing his lead to near on a second as he aimed to break free of the charging trio.

Canet became the latest victim at turn three with five to go as the battle for second intensified out front. Lowes losing out as the next lap completed and he was dropped to fourth as they powered down the straight.

Cameron Beaubier was stuck in a Pertamina Mandalika battle for the final points, Tom Luthi ahead and Bendsneyder behind as the American circulated in 15th, from 25th on the grid.

The last lap saw KTM replicate their recent run of one-two form, maintaining the positions as the chequered flag came out. Fernandez claimed the win from teammate Gardner as the pattern continued for Marc VDS with Lowes settling for fourth across the line.

Bezzecchi took fifth from Ogura and Navarro as a strong late run from Xavi Vierge saw the Spaniard up to eighth. Schrotter headed Celestino Vietti in the top-10 with Somkiat Chantra, Albert Arenas and Stefano Manzi leading the SAG pair of Luthi and Bendsneyder for the final points. Beaubier disappointed to miss out by just 0.061s at the flag as Dixon came home in 18th.