Lorenzo Baldassarri – The King of Spain in Moto2

by Ryan Lilly

Lorenzo Baldassarri bounced back from a non-finish in America in perfect fashion at the Spanish Grand Prix after pulling off yet another superb victory, his third in four races.

Free Practice

The European stint of the Moto2 World Championship kicked off on Friday morning as the 765cc Triumphs rolled down pitlane under the Spanish sun.

The opening practice didn’t go quite to plan for the Petronas Sprinta Racing rider Khairul Idham Pawi who suffered a heavy crash, seriously injuring his little finger which forced him out of this weekend, and also the next race in Le Mans.

After the opening three Free Practice sessions, it was the ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team rider of Remy Gardner who lead the way into Q2 ahead of Alex Marquez and Sam Lowes, who looked to repeat his 2016 success at Jerez.

Countryman Jorge Navarro finished the combined practice sessions in fourth ahead of SKY VR46 rider Nicolo Bulega. Further down the order, both Red Bull KTM’s narrowly missed out on a spot directly into Q2, meaning they would be joined by the likes of BendsneyderVierge and Lecuona for a spot in the top four in Q1.

Credit: MotoGP.com

Qualifying

Qualifying for the fourth round of the Moto2 season kicked off with Qualifying one, where the top four riders would go on to join the top fourteen from the combined Free Practice times in the shootout for pole position.

Leading the charge into Q2 was Iker Lecuona who topped the first fifteen-minute session ahead of Andrea Locatelli, Brad Binder and Xavi Vierge.

In the fight for pole position during the final fifteen-minute session of the day, saw the HDR Heidrun Speed Up of Jorge Navarro put it on pole position for the race on Sunday. Navarro would be joined by Alex Marquez and Augusto Fernandez on the front row whilst Remy Gardner lead the charge on the second row of the grid ahead of Bulega and Baldassarri.

Credit: MotoGP.com

Race

At 12:20 pm local time, the Moto2 race kicked off at Jerez with millions of fans watching worldwide, Fernandez got the perfect start grabbing the lead on the run up into turn one with Thomas Luthi and Remy Garnder slotting in behind.

As the riders exited the first corner Remy Gardner got himself into a big slide before the bike regained grip sending Remy over the top and into a highside.

Sadly, the bike landed in the middle of the pack leaving Alex Marquez nowhere to go but over the top of Remy’s stricken bike.

This then also left Marquez’s Estrella Galicia Marc VDS Kalex abandoned in the middle of the circuit as riders dodged the number 73 Kalex, all successfully doing so apart from Dimas Ekky Pratama who clipped Marquez’s machine.

Dimas Ekky then slid across the racing line into turn two and took out the Tech 3 KTM of Marco Bezzecchi. The race was red-flagged and later restarted with a shortened race distance of 15 laps.

Credit: MotoGP.com

Alex Marquez’s crew was left with little time to repair the badly damaged Kalex before the start of the restart, amazingly the team managed to get Marquez to the end of pitlane in time for him to make a pitlane start, whilst Bezzecchi was able to take up his grid spot.

Once again Fernandez got the perfect launch to lead the way up into turn one ahead of his teammate Lorenzo Baldassarri.

The Flexbox Pons Racing pair lead the way all race long but it wasn’t until lap 9 when Balda made the move on his teammate to take the lead. Baldassarri looked slightly more comfortable over his teammate and started to slowly escape Fernandez who was becoming under pressure from Jorge Navarro who pinched second place from the returning Spanish rider.

Baldassarri crossed the line to win his third race of the season, proving that he is the man to beat for the 2019 Moto2 World title, Navarro came home in second with Fernandez rounding off the podium.

Luthi came home in fourth ahead of Binder and Vierge whilst Tetsuta Nagashima came home with a top ten finish in seventh, he was ahead of the two Sky VR46 riders of Luca Marini and Nicolo Bulega with Iker Lecuona completing the top 10.

With three wins to ‘IronBalda’s’ name, the Italian now sits on top of the standings with a seventeen point lead over Swiss rider Thomas Luthi with his Dynavolt teammate Marcel Schrotter in third.

Moto2 returns to action on the 17-19th May at the French classic of Le Mans, where the Moto2 field will be hoping to reign in Lorenzo Baldassarri.

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