Johann Zarco tightened his grip on the 2016 Moto2 championship race with victory in the Austrian Grand Prix, his fourth in five races. The Frenchman eased away from early leader Franco Morbidelli in the closing stages and although Alex Rins salvaged third on the final lap, Zarco now leads the Spaniard by 34 points.
Zarco had claimed a comfortable pole position on Saturday but his route to victory was made slightly tougher by a poor start which dropped him to fifth behind Morbidelli, Marcel Schrotter, Thomas Luthi and Alex Marquez. The 2014 Moto3 champion was quickly shuffled back to fifth but the reigning Moto2 champion didn’t make any further progress until lap eleven when he deprived Luthi of third.
Up ahead, Morbidelli and Schrotter were enjoying an entertaining scrap for the lead but the German’s unlikely challenge faded on lap fourteen when Zarco dived through at turn four. Morbidelli had managed to edge a second ahead while the battle raged behind him but the Ajo rider was ruthless, closing back in at half-a-second per lap and scything past on lap seventeen.
Luthi had followed Zarco past Schrotter and with seven laps to go, snatched second from Morbidelli but the battle for the two remaining rostrum spots would go down to the final lap. Under braking for the penultimate corner, Morbidelli dived back through and with both riders slowed by the squabbling, a fast-finishing Rins took advantage to deprive the Swiss rider of third.
Schrotter stayed in touch to finish fifth ahead of Marquez while Takaaki Nakagami won the battle in the chase group to finish seventh ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri and Axel Pons. Sam Lowes would have been in the thick of that action but a crash on lap four took him out of contention, not just in the race, but possibly the championship too.
Moto2 NeroGiardini Motorrad Grand Prix von Osterreich (Race Result)
|1||5. Johann Zarco||Kalex||Ajo Motorsport||37:34.180||25|
|2||21. Franco Morbidelli||Kalex||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||+3.058||20|
|3||40. Alex Rins||Kalex||Paginas Amarillas HP 40||+3.376||16|
|4||12. Thomas Luthi||Kalex||Garage Plus Interwetten||+3.467||13|
|5||23. Marcel Schrotter||Kalex||AGR Team||+4.740||11|
|6||73. Alex Marquez||Kalex||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||+9.416||10|
|7||30. Takaaki Nakagami||Kalex||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||+10.178||9|
|8||7. Lorenzo Baldassarri||Kalex||Forward Team||+11.951||8|
|9||49. Axel Pons||Kalex||AGR Team||+12.801||7|
|10||77. Dominique Aegerter||Kalex||CarXpert Interwetten||+13.977||6|
|11||11. Sandro Cortese||Kalex||Dynavolt Intact GP||+18.046||5|
|12||52. Danny Kent||Kalex||Leopard Racing||+18.284||4|
|13||54. Mattia Pasini||Kalex||Italtrans Racing Team||+18.424||3|
|14||44. Miguel Oliveira||Kalex||Leopard Racing||+18.830||2|
|15||60. Julian Simon||Speed Up||QMMF Racing Team||+20.022||1|
|16||97. Xavi Vierge||Tech 3||Tech 3 Racing||+28.885|
|17||10. Luca Marini||Kalex||Forward Team||+28.970|
|18||32. Isaac Vinales||Tech 3||Tech 3 Racing||+29.032|
|19||87. Remy Gardner||Kalex||Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2||+29.115|
|20||57. Edgar Pons||Kalex||Paginas Amarillas HP 40||+29.424|
|21||55. Hafizh Syahrin||Kalex||Petronas Raceline Malaysia||+29.977|
|22||14. Ratthapark Wilairot||Kalex||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||+37.935|
|23||19. Xavier Simeon||Speed Up||QMMF Racing Team||+43.276|
|24||2. Jesko Raffin||Kalex||sports-millions-EMWE-SAG||+44.206|
|25||70. Robin Mulhauser||Kalex||CarXpert Interwetten||+48.835|
|26||94. Jonas Folger||Kalex||Dynavolt Intact GP||+1:12.148|
|NC||24. Simone Corsi||Speed Up||Speed Up||+13 Laps|
|NC||22. Sam Lowes||Kalex||Federal Oil Gresini Moto2||+16 Laps|