Maverick Vinales took his first Moto2 victory on just his second appearance in the class with a supreme performance in the closing stages at the Circuit of the Americas. The Moto3 champion grew in stature as the race unfolded and after taking the lead from Dominique Aegerter six laps from the finish, the rookie unleashed a level of performance that no other rider could live with.
Aegerter launched into an early lead from the outside of the front row and it was fortunate from the Swiss rider’s point of view as chaos ensued behind. Josh Herrin, the only home rider in the field, tagged Mattia Pasini in his eagerness to impress and scooped up the helpless Sam Lowes at turn one. Franco Morbidelli was also held up while both Mapfre Aspar riders also came to grief but Gino Rea was one of those to profit, climbing from last on the grid all the way into a points position.
The drama continued with Johann Zarco attempting to make up ground after a poor start but instead succeeding in wiping out third placed Julian Simon, along with himself. Aegerter was clear of the Mika Kallio and Esteve Rabat. Simeon wasn’t in the mood to follow though and charged past Dominique at turn twelve on the third lap but with seven remaining, all his hard work was undone after going straight on at the uphill first corner.
Aegerter regained the lead but his second spell at the front was even shorter than his first with Vinales scything around the outside of turn two, giving him the inside line into three. What followed was a stunning succession of fastest laps which not only earned him the lap record, but also the fastest ever lap of COTA, quicker even than yesterday’s pole position.
Rabat had his hands full with his teammate Kallio in the fight for third but after a feisty battle through the esses of sector one, the Spaniard pushed through. Aegerter couldn’t hold back the championship leader either when he set his sights on second but that was the limit of Esteve’s progress with Vinales well into the distance, eventually winning by four seconds.
Aegerter took third with a second error from Simeon ensuring fourth place would go to Kallio. Simone Corsi couldn’t keep up with the leading group and faded to fifth while Thomas Luthi won a four way fight for sixth ahead of Anthony West, Alex de Angelis and Marcel Schrotter. Sam Lowes remounted after his turn one spill but the chequered flag came just too soon for the Briton who missed out on the last point by two seconds while Gino Rea’s hopes of a top fifteen finish were dashed when his Suter slowed in the latter stages.