Iannone Denies Espargaro On Final Lap At Mugello

2 Mins read

Andrea Iannone chased down Pol Espargaro before overtaking him on the very last lap to claim victory at his home Grand Prix at Mugello. The Speed Master rider has moved level with the Spaniard in second in the title chase and with Marc Marquez only managing fifth, they are now just 34 points off the lead.

Espargaro, riding despite a badly swollen ankle sustained in the practice crash with Johann Zarco, made a decent getaway from pole position with only the fast-starting Marquez beating him to San Donato. Bradley Smith also got away superbly to take third ahead of Thomas Luthi with Takaaki Nakagami gaining four places off the line to lie fifth.

Luthi would soon fight his way to the front but Nakagami was the man on the move. The Japanese rider was in inspired form in the early laps and sensationally overtook both Marquez and Luthi within the space of half a lap to lead a Grand Prix for the first time on lap six. The Italtrans Kalex stayed in front for three laps before Luthi regained control while Espargaro loomed large on the tail of Nakagami. Marquez was keeping quiet in fourth with Iannone lurking in fifth but Bradley Smith was emerging as the fastest man of the leading group in sixth.

With eight laps remaining, Espargaro upped the pace and dived up the inside of Luthi into the Luco corner, making contact on his way through. Luthi's loss of momentum enabled the Spaniard to pull a second clear of his pursuers with Iannone moving into second ahead of the Swiss.

As the race moved into the closing stages, the big surprise was the lack of progress being made by Marc Marquez who was actually falling backwards. Bradley Smith had taken advantage of a near-crash at Luco to grab snatch fourth and the championship leader was now coming under pressure from Scott Redding for fifth.

The man making major progress was Iannone and the home favourite chipped away at the 1.5 second lead of Espargaro, reducing it to nothing by the start of the last lap. After lining up the Kalex down the main straight, Iannone was latest on the brakes and scythed past Espargaro at San Donato, decisively as it turned out.

Thomas Luthi claimed the final place on the podium although Bradley Smith chased him all the way to the line, picking up his best result of the season. Marc Marquez was a disappointing fifth with Scott Redding only 0.115s behind in sixth while Takaaki Nakagami's early promise could only deliver seventh at the finish.

Dominique Aegerter was eighth ahead of Claudio Corti on the second Italtrans machine, an impressive achievement considering he'd fallen to the tail of the field on lap one with a mistake at turn two. Johann Zarco salvaged tenth after his grid penalty but Gino Rea couldn't add to his points tally, coming home in nineteenth.

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