Portimao Moto2: Rookie Fernandez scores maiden win as Lowes crashes

A late charge from Raul Fernandez earned the rookie a maiden Moto2 win at the Portuguese Grand Prix as championship leader Sam Lowes retired after a scary high-side.

Portimao Moto2: Rookie Fernandez scores maiden win as Lowes crashes

After Lowes’ early retirement, the race looked to be a fight between Joe Roberts, Aron Canet and Remy Gardner for the victory, but all three were overhauled by a charging Fernandez in the closing stages.

A stunning final few laps allowed Fernandez to score a comfortable win, as Canet went on to claim second, while a robust move from Gardner on the final laps meant the Australian took third and the championship lead.

It was Gardner that had the best getaway from the front row as polesitter Lowes was slow off the line.

Lowes dropped back to third on the run to Turn 1 before drama struck as the championship leader tried to avoid running into the back of Gardner and was subsequently launched into a high-side.

The Briton was flung from his Marc VDS Racing bike and landed heavily on his back before then being collected by his sliding Kalex. Lowes managed to walk away from the incident relatively unscathed.

Gardner emerged in the lead after the opening lap, followed by Marco Bezzecchi, who leapt from fifth on the grid to second.

Another rider that surged his way through the pack was Roberts as he occupied third from eighth on the grid, while Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Xavi Vierge sat fourth.

Marco Bezzecchi, Sky Racing Team VR46

Marco Bezzecchi, Sky Racing Team VR46

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bezzecchi was soon applying pressure on Gardner for the lead before taking the position on lap 3 as the battle at the front intensified.

The pair swapped positions but, once Bezzecchi regained the spot, he attempted to break away from the field.

Behind, Canet emerged as a contender for the race having risen from ninth to fifth in the opening laps.

The race was then punctuated by two separate crashes on lap five. The IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia pair of Ai Ogura and Somkiat Chantra took themselves out of the race while fighting for ninth and 10th spot. The latter initially made contact with American Cameron Beaubier, which triggered a low side that wiped out the innocent Ogura.

Further round the lap, Yari Montella and Stefano Manzi collided, resulting in a big high-side for Montella. His bike then burst into flames before marshals extinguished the blaze. Both riders walked away from the incident.

At the front, Bezzecchi had opened up a 1.4-second lead over Gardner with Roberts and Canet in pursuit.

Gardner’s victory hopes were dealt a blow when he ran wide shortly before the halfway mark, which left Bezzecchi to lead Canet with Roberts and Fernandez behind.

The lead changed shortly after as Bezzecchi tried to defend from Canet into Turn 1, which allowed Roberts to shoot into the lead at Turn 1.

Joe Roberts, Italtrans Racing Team

Joe Roberts, Italtrans Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Roberts held firm for a number of laps before succumbing to pressure from Canet as the pair looked to fight over the probable victory, while Gardner looked to recover lost ground and challenge for a podium.

However, nobody was watching the progress of rookie Fernandez, who made a late charge in the closing laps, passing Gardner, Roberts and Canet in quick succession, taking the lead with four laps remaining.

Once ahead, he never looked back as he took the chequered flag with a comfortable 1.6s margin over Canet.

Canet, Roberts and Gardner were involved in a thrilling scrap for the minor podium places.

Gardner dived underneath Roberts for third and the pair touched on the final lap, which allowed Canet to surge to second as Gardner took third from Roberts.

Marc VDS Racing’s Augusto Fernandez managed to come home in fifth ahead of early race leader Bezzecchi in sixth.

Gardner has now claimed the lead in the championship standings on 56 points with a four-point advantage over race winner Fernandez, while Lowes sits third.

Result - 23 laps

Cla Rider Bike Gap
1 Spain Raúl Fernández Kalex Moto2  
2 Spain Arón Canet Boscoscuro B-21 1.600
3 Australia Remy Gardner Kalex Moto2 1.968
4 United States Joe Roberts Kalex Moto2 2.397
5 Spain Augusto Fernandez Kalex Moto2 5.622
6 Italy Marco Bezzecchi Kalex Moto2 6.344
7 Spain Xavi Vierge Kalex Moto2 7.360
8 Spain Hector Garzo Kalex Moto2 12.540
9 United States Cameron Beaubier Kalex Moto2 14.989
10 Germany Marcel Schrotter Kalex Moto2 15.240
11 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio Kalex Moto2 15.521
12 Italy Lorenzo Dalla Porta Kalex Moto2 15.667
13 Spain Albert Arenas Boscoscuro B-21 19.513
14 Italy Lorenzo Baldassarri MV Agusta F2 23.147
15 Spain Marcos Ramirez Kalex Moto2 23.494
16 Italy Tony Arbolino Kalex Moto2 23.639
17 Switzerland Thomas Luthi Kalex Moto2 27.470
18 Malaysia Hafizh Syahrin NTS NH7 56.999
19 Miquel Pons MV Agusta F2 1'00.417
20 United Kingdom Fraser Rogers NTS NH7 1'21.966
21 Thailand Somkiat Chantra Kalex Moto2 1'25.160
22 Spain Jorge Navarro Boscoscuro B-21 3 Laps
  United Kingdom Jake Dixon Kalex Moto2 9 Laps
  Italy Celestino Vietti Ramus Kalex Moto2 12 Laps
  Italy Nicolo Bulega Kalex Moto2 12 Laps
  Netherlands Bo Bendsneyder Kalex Moto2 16 Laps
  Japan Ai Ogura Kalex Moto2 19 Laps
  Italy Yari Montella Boscoscuro B-21 20 Laps
  Italy Stefano Manzi Kalex Moto2 20 Laps
  United Kingdom Sam Lowes Kalex Moto2  
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