At the Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya it was Andrea Iannone who took his first victory of the season in a thrilling Moto2™ race in front of Tom Lüthi and Marc Márquez.
Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Márquez took the holeshot, as an almighty scrap for second place ensued behind. Turn one already saw S/Master Speed Up’s Mike di Meglio, Blusens Avintia’s Julián Simón, Federal Oil Gresini’s Gino Rea and Italtrans Racing’s Claudio Corti involved in a crash, with only Corti making it back out on track. None of the riders were hurt.
Márquez’s good jump from the line was short lived as Speed Master’s Iannone took advantage of the Spaniard running wide. He led the initial stages from Technomag-CIP’s Dominique Aegerter and Mapfre Aspar Team’s Toni Elías, in front of Márquez and Interwetten-Paddock’s Lüthi. Elías soon took second with a bold move, though was immediately taken by Márquez, who hunted down Iannone.
With 18 laps to go, Lüthi had made it into third, and a group with Iannone, Márquez and the Swiss rider soon started pulling out a led. On the same lap, Technomag-CIP’s Roberto Rolfo received a ride through penalty after a jump-start.
The scrap at the front was getting fierce with 18 laps left as Márquez passed Iannone down the straight, though the Italian stuck to the Spaniards rear wheel and took him back two laps later. Lüthi took advantage of this and put in a brave move on Márquez to take second. The scrap did however let Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s championship leader Pol Espargaró catch up to the back, making it a four way battle 11 laps from the end.
One lap later, Márquez retook Lüthi on the home straight to hunt down the Italian at the front. The pursuing group was being led by Espargaró’s teammate Esteve Rabat ahead of Aegerter, Elías, Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi and the Marc VDS Racing Team pair of Scott Redding and Mika Kallio.
Back at the front with nine laps to go Márquez got past Iannone on the straight, yet the Italian fought straight back and re-took him three corners later. Yet with seven laps to go Iannone ran wide, letting the Spaniard through once more. This was again short lived as the Italian fought back and re-took the lead. On the same lap, Elías crashed out of sixth place, yet walked away unscathed.
With five laps left, Espargaró started his charge through the pack, as he went past Lüthi to take third. However, with three laps remaining Lüthi overtook the local down the strait, as the four at the front were involved in an engrossing battle at the front.
With three laps left there was huge drama for the home crowd, as Lüthi went past Márquez, who subsequently almost lost the front of his bike. As he saved a near crash, he pulled back in front of Espargaró who was thrown off his bike in a violent fashion. He fortunately escaped any serious injury, though was visibly upset at loosing out in front of his home fans.
The last lap was equally as tense, as Lüthi, who had passed Iannone for the lead, was re-taken by the Italian in a brave move into turn one. The pair tussled fairing-to-fairing in the last lap, yet it was Iannone who held his nerve to take the win ahead of the Swiss rider and Marc Márquez. The top ten were completed by Esteve Rabat, Simone Corsi, Italtrans’ Takaaki Nakagami, Dominique Aegerter, GP Team Switzerland’s Randy Krummenacher, Mika Kallio and Scott Redding.
The crash involving Espargaró and Márquez was subsequently investigated by Race Direction, which issued Márquez with 60-second penalty, relegating him to 23th spot. His team however appealed the penalty with the FIM Stewards, who did not confirm the decision, meaning it was consequently overturned. This leaves Márquez in second place in the championship, two points behind Lüthi. Protocol dictates that an appeal may be lodged with the FIM CDI.