Sandro Cortese further extended his championship lead over Maverick Vinales with a superbly judged victory at Misano. The KTM rider challenged for the lead throughout while his title rival came through from eleventh on the grid, only to see his charge unravel on the last lap.
Romano Fenati grabbed the early lead from Cortese to the delight of the home fans but the German stayed close behind the FTR-Honda with the two leading a ten man group at the front. The pack included recent winners Luis Salom and Jonas Folger but Maverick Vinales was languishing at the tail of it, making heavy weather of his recovery.
At half distance, Fenati led the way from Cortese and Salom with the Estrella Galicia teammates Alex Rins and Miguel Oliveira close behind. Vinales had gradually clawed his way up to seventh behind Efren Vazquez and picked off the JHK Laglisse rider at Quercia on lap fifteen with Oliveira quickly falling victim to him as well. The other Suter Honda of Rins was heading in the other direction though and was busy overtaking Salom for third.
Salom was now firmly in the sights of Vinales and the Avintia Blusens rider dived through into fourth with six laps to go, putting just a single rider between himself and Cortese. Sandro had clearly seen him coming and went on the offensive, challenging Fenati for the lead at Quercia on lap 21. Cortese dived for the inside but while this was going on, Alex Rins was charging around the outside of both of them. The optimistic move didn’t quite come off with Salom and Vinales sneaking past but Fenati was the big loser, dropping to fifth.
The aggressive Salom was in no mood to surrender second to Vinales despite seeing the 17 year old scythe past him four corners into the last lap. The RW Racing GP rider lined up his compatriot down the back straight and muscled past at turn twelve, not only denying Vinales second place but virtually assuring Cortese of an unchallenged victory.
The German had eased away from the mayhem to claim his third win of the season with Salom holding onto second but Vinales wasn’t out of the woods yet with Rins charging up the inside of him into the final corner. Rins made it to the apex first but only succeeded in pushing them both wide. The big winner would be Fenati who ghosted past to grab the final podium position with Rins fourth and Vinales a demoralising fifth. Upon returning to his garage, Maverick appeared to be in tears with the realisation that the title may be slipping away, he now trails Cortese by 46 points.
It actually could’ve been worse with Jonas Folger missing out on fifth by 0.035s. Efren Vazquez was a competitive seventh with Niccolo Antonelli, Miguel Oliveira and Arthur Sissis completing the top ten despite failing to keep up with the leaders in the closing stages. Danny Kent was dropped early on before salvaging twelfth but Danny Webb was part of a four-man pile-up at turn one, ending his race before it had begun.