Raul Fernandez finished P2 in Portimao as the title contenders go head-to-head, 23 points split the duo ahead of the final round
Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) secured the most important victory of his career at the Grande Prémio Brembo do Algarve and will take a 23-point title lead into the final round in Valencia. The Australian got the better of rival and teammate Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo), as the Spaniard has to settle for P2. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) completed the podium less than a second away from Fernandez.
Huge win for Gardner, Raul Fernandez suffers with grip
As the lights went out, Raul Fernandez and Gardner both made good starts and they launched into Turn 1 as they lined up on the grid – P1 and P2. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) made a lightning start from 7th to push his way up into P3 in the opening exchanges, and the Italian was soon ahead of Gardner. The top three – Raul Fernandez, Bezzecchi, Gardner – were split by 1.1s, with Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) P4, two seconds down the on the podium fight.
After shadowing Bezzecchi for a few laps, Gardner was back up into P2 on Lap 9, with Raul Fernandez’ lead standing at 1.1s. As things stood, the gap between the Red Bull KTM Ajo pair was 13 points heading to Valencia, but Gardner was starting to reel in Raul Fernandez – the latter on the soft rear tyre.
Turn 1, Lap 13. Gardner, visibly riding with more grip, passed Raul Fernandez down the hill. Bezzecchi was three seconds behind Raul Fernandez, so was his second place safe? Well, Gardner wasn’t pulling away. Fernandez was latched onto the back of his teammate and title rival, knowing how much was on the line. Meanwhile, Bezzecchi had slipped into the clutches of fourth place Lowes, the British rider was into P3 with seven to go.
Heading into the final five laps, Raul Fernandez was still hanging in there but couldn’t get close enough to make a move on Gardner. But with three to go, Raul Fernandez fell to a second behind his teammate, and baring any mistakes, Gardner was going to claim a monumental 25 points.
Last lap time, and it’s a good job Raul Fernandez’ gap over a hard charging Lowes was as big as it was. The Brit was lapping nearly a second a lap quicker than the Spaniard, and if the number 22 overtook the number 25, that would hand the title to Gardner. As it happens, Fernandez held onto P2 that takes the title to the final race of the season, but Gardner’s victory sees him take a healthy 23-point lead into next Sunday’s race.
Lowes’ podium was his second on the bounce, another lap and it could have been some unbelievable title drama. Lowes can’t catch third place Bezzecchi in the Championship, but looks set to claim P4 in the overall standings.
The points scorers in Portimao
Aron Canet (QuieroCorredor Aspar Team) pipped Beaubier to P4 as the duo cross the line 0.005s apart, the American equalling his best Moto2™ result. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) claimed P6 as the Italian once again impresses, the rookie beat Jorge Navarro (Termozeta Speed Up) by eight tenths, with Bezzecchi slipping from P2 to P8 at the chequered flag. Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) rounded out the top 10.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) couldn’t covert a front row start into a podium attack, the Italian finished P11, with Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP40), Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP40), Marcos Ramirez (American Racing) and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) picked up the final points.
Get ready for a Moto2™ title decider in Valencia
Gardner’s victory sees him have one hand and four fingers on the 2021 Moto2™ World title, but it’s not over until it’s over. A phenomenal season finale is coming up in Valencia between Gardner and Raul Fernandez, who comes out on top after a thrilling season?
1. Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
2. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 3.014
3. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 3.899
4. Aron Canet (QuieroCorredor Aspar Team) + 7.616
5. Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) + 7.621
6. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 10.021
7. Jorge Navarro (Termozeta Speed Up) + 10.908
8. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 11.586
9. Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 13.121
10. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 13.286