MotoGP Assen: Fernandez fires up the Moto2 title fight

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Augusto Fernandez claimed his second Moto2 win in as many weeks at the TT Circuit Assen on Sunday.

The Spaniard intensifying the championship fight as he joined Celestino Vietti on equal points with Ai Ogura just one behind as they head into the five-week summer break. The Honda Team Asia rider took second at the flag after a fightback from outside the points, with pole-man Jake Dixon completing the celebrations in third.

Cloud cover intensified ahead of the intermediate class race as Dixon headed the grid for the second time in 2022. His Inde Aspar teammate Albert Arenas alongside in second with Elf Marc VDS’ Sam Lowes completing the front row in third.

As the lights went out, Dixon held the holeshot as Lowes ran wide at the first corner, the Brit regrouping in 27th as Alonso Lopez took charge, from fifth. Marcel Schrotter storming from tenth to fifth on the opening lap before bettering Ogura to hassle just off the podium fight.

Fernandez was the next to make moves on the KTM, from ninth to fifth as Ogura dropped to tenth after a major moment at turn ten. The Honda rider miraculously saving a near highside before the next lap dropped him further to 17th.

American Racing’s Cameron Beaubier was the fastest man on track as he made his way to tenth on lap three. Ogura regrouping on the back of his teammate Somkiat Chantra in the final points positions.

Lopez held a four-tenth advantage as the fourth lap began, Dixon and Arenas completing the podium before Schrotter made a move for third and Lowes crashed out.

Local rider Bo Bendsneyder set the fastest lap as he advanced to sixth while Dixon lost second to Schrotter. An all-American battle beginning for eighth as Beaubier bettered Joe Roberts with Marc VDS’ Tony Arbolino the next in his sights. Championship leader Celestino Vietti making his way into the top ten as he too improved to ninth.

Arenas dispatched his team-mate for third as lap seven completed, Bendsneyder battling hard with Fernandez for fifth as Schrotter struck for the lead next time around.

Fermin Aldeguer and Marcos Ramirez found themselves with long lap penalties for track limits on lap nine. Dixon’s day fading fast as Fernandez then Bendsneyder looked to challenge in the top four fight. The Brit returning to fifth but with the Dutchman firmly on his wheels.

Lopez was under threat from Fernandez next time around as the pair repeatedly swapped positions on lap ten. Six of the current top eight riders chasing their first Moto2 victory with less than a second covering the battle.

Schrotter’s chance was over on lap 12 as he tipped off at turn five. Arenas taking charge with Fernandez and Lopez battling hard behind, Dixon now in fourth from Bendsneyder, Arbolino, Beaubier and Vietti.

Beaubier ran sixth as the second half began before Arbolino struck back. Ogura regrouped onto the back of his title rival in ninth with Roberts completing the top ten despite a track limits warning.

Lopez dropped to sixth as Dixon regained podium contention with nine laps to go. Ogura and Vietti locked in a fierce battle for position at the back of the leading pack as the Italian picked up a track limits warning in the process.

Dixon suffered contract from Bendsneyder as the Dutchman barged through to third, Dixon recovering in fourth with Beaubier and Ogura on his tail before the American too found a way through to claim third.

It was a brief appearance in podium contention, however, as Dixon struck back. Fernandez taking the lead out front as the Aspar pair circulated together once again in second and third.

Ogura and Vietti were through on the Pertamina SAG rider for fifth and sixth with five to go before the Honda rider took fourth. Beaubier stuck in a title-challenge sandwich as the final laps counted down.

Dixon was up to second as the lap concluded, the American spinning out at turn one from a career-best result with four to go as Ogura made his way onto the podium.

Ogura’s charge continued as he scalped the Brit for second down the home straight. Dixon heard on his wheels as he looked for a way back through before his teammate briefly denied the move with his own shot for third.

Arenas’ race was over with two to go as the Spaniard crashed out turn nine. Vietti released on the back of the podium as he dug deep across the final lap with the Brit holding on for third at the flag.

Vietti secured fourth to extend his championship lead by just a point from second-placed Ogura. Fernandez celebrating his second victory in a row by matching the Mooney VR46’s overall points tally with local rider Bendsneyder delighting the home fans from fifth.

Lopez rescued sixth from Arbolino, Roberts, VR46’s Master Camp Manuel Gonzalez and Gresini’s Filip Salac with Aldeguer, Jorge Navarro, Chantra, Jeremy Alcoba and Barry Baltus collecting the final points on offer.

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