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Thomas Luthi takes wet Le Mans Moto2 win as pursuer Johann Zarco crashes

Tom Luthi, Le Mans 2012Thomas Luthi scored his first win of the 2012 Moto2 championship with a masterful ride in wet conditions at Le Mans, moving to within three points of the championship lead in the process.

Erstwhile points leader Marc Marquez suffered his first retirement since Silverstone last year, crashing out while running fifth 10 laps into the race. A spate of late incidents allowed Pol Espargaro to finish sixth and move one point clear of Marquez.

Starting from second, Luthi (Paddock Suter) stayed near the front during the early chaos and then moved into the lead seven laps in.

The chasing pack initially stayed with him, but as the race progressed so did Luthi's gap, extending past the three-second mark at the halfway stage.

Last year's 125cc runner-up Johann Zarco had threatened to turn the race into a grandstand finish, closing steadily on Luthi in the final laps, but with just four to run the JIR Motobi rider high-sided out at Turn 10.

The weather kept things tense, worsening in the final laps, but with Zarco's exit Luthi was able to come home untroubled and collect his third victory across all categories at Le Mans.

Claudio Corti (Italtrans Kalex) claimed his first grand prix podium in second, while Marc VDS's Scott Redding claimed his first of the year in third.

Difficult conditions did not translate into the multitude of crashes seen in Moto3's earlier race, but incidents nonetheless played their part in determining the outcome of the race - not least in Marquez's early exit.

Tech 3's Bradley Smith was another to suffer. Up to fourth in the opening stages, he ran wide and lost huge ground on lap eight. He fought his way back and was set to finish sixth, but lost the bike on the final turn and eventually dragged it to 10th.

His woe was Espargaro's gain, as the Pons Kalex rider - who had been running near the front early on - claimed sixth, and with it the points lead, in his stead.

Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) and Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Kalex) finished ahead of Espargaro in fourth and fifth.

Anthony West (QMMF Moriwaki), Max Neukirchner (Kiefer Kalex) and Gresini's Ratthapark Wilairot occupied seventh through to ninth, ahead of the returning Smith.

Results - 26 laps:

Pos  Rider                Team/Bike                 Time/Gap
 1.  Thomas Luthi         Paddock Suter           50m02.816s
 2.  Claudio Corti        Italtrans Kalex           + 6.354s
 3.  Scott Redding        Marc VDS Kalex           + 12.162s
 4.  Andrea Iannone       Speed Master Speed Up    + 16.338s
 5.  Mika Kallio          Marc VDS Kalex           + 19.278s
 6.  Pol Espargaro        Pons Kalex               + 20.874s
 7.  Anthony West         QMMF Moriwaki            + 21.705s
 8.  Max Neukirchner      Kiefer Kalex             + 28.117s
 9.  Ratthapark Wilairot  Gresini Suter            + 38.317s
10.  Bradley Smith        Tech 3                   + 40.940s
11.  Esteve Rabat         Pons Kalex               + 44.077s
12.  Toni Elias           Aspar Suter              + 59.583s
13.  Julian Simon         Avintia Suter          + 1m01.785s
14.  Nico Terol           Aspar Suter            + 1m03.430s
15.  Dominique Aegerter   Technomag-CIP Suter    + 1m10.341s
16.  Roberto Rolfo        Technomag-CIP Suter    + 1m22.145s
17.  Axel Pons            Pons Kalex             + 1m46.994s
18.  Yuki Takahashi       Forward Suter              + 1 lap
19.  Marco Colandrea      SAG FTR                    + 1 lap


     Johann Zarco         JIR Motobi                 21 laps
     Elena Rosell         QMMF Moriwaki              18 laps
     Takaaki Nakagami     Italtrans Kalex            17 laps
     Mike di Meglio       Speed Master Speed Up      16 laps
     Ricard Cardus        Arguinano AJR              13 laps
     Marc Marquez         Monlau Suter               11 laps
     Gino Rea             Gresini Suter               7 laps
     Alexander Lundh      MZ                          7 laps
     Alex de Angelis      Forward Suter               3 laps
     Angel Rodriguez      SAG Bimota                  2 laps
     Simone Corsi         Ioda FTR                    2 laps
     Randy Krummenacher   Switzerland Kalex            1 lap
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