Austria Moto2: Morbidelli comes out on top in tense battle

Franco Morbidelli scored his seventh victory of the Moto2 season at the Red Bull Ring, coming out on top against teammate Alex Marquez and title rival Thomas Luthi in a closely-fought battle.

From second on the grid, Morbidelli grabbed the advantage on the opening lap, as Marquez, Luthi and poleman Mattia Pasini formed up in a tight group that would run together for the first part of the race.

Points leader Morbidelli was able to stay just clear of the battle for second between Marquez and Luthi, who made a number of attempts to pass at Turn 3 but consistently ran wide.

As Pasini faded, the order of the top three remained the same until the 18th lap of 25, when Marquez launched an attack on his Marc VDS stablemate Morbidelli at Turn 3 - only to himself run wide and surrender the position to Luthi.

The Swiss veteran tried to force his way by Morbidelli for the lead at the same corner the next lap, but couldn't get the move done, and fell back behind Marquez two laps later.

By now, Morbidelli had the margin out front he needed to win, the MotoGP-bound Italian crossing the line 1.312s ahead of second-placed man Marquez.

Luthi completed the podium in third after running wide with three laps to go, Morbidelli stretching his points lead to 26 with seven rounds left.

KTM's Miguel Oliveira had threatened to get among the leading group in the latter stages after charging up to fourth, but the Portuguese suffered a violent crash at Turn 8 with five laps left.

That left Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing VR46) to claim fourth, ahead of Pasini (Italtrans), Takaaki Nakagami (Team Asia) and the surviving Ajo-run KTM of reigning Moto3 champion Brad Binder.

Gresini's Jorge Navarro, Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer) and Hafiz Syahrin (Petronas) completed the top 10.

Fabio Quartararo (Pons) had qualified a commendable sixth, only to be taken out of the race at the very first turn by Xavi Vierge (Tech 3) in an incident that also removed Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward) from contention. Issac Vinales (SAG) was also running inside the top 10 early on before crashing.

Danny Kent, standing in for Marcel Schrotter at Intact GP, didn't take the start after suffering a back injury in practice.

Race results:

Pos.#RiderBikeTime/Gap
1 21 italy Franco Morbidelli  Kalex 37'39.370 
2 73 spain Alex Marquez  Kalex 1.312
3 12 switzerland Thomas Luthi  Kalex 2.544
4 42 italy Francesco Bagnaia  Kalex 3.070
5 54 italy Mattia Pasini  Kalex 3.745
6 30 japan Takaaki Nakagami  Kalex 8.827
7 41 south_africa Brad Binder  KTM 9.018
8 9 spain Jorge Navarro  Kalex 13.692
9 77 switzerland Dominique Aegerter  Suter 14.955
10 55 malaysia Hafizh Syahrin  Kalex 18.997
11 24 italy Simone Corsi  Speed Up 21.887
12 45 japan Tetsuta Nagashima  Kalex 22.028
13 49 spain Axel Pons  Kalex 23.008
14 57 spain Edgar Pons  Kalex 23.290
15 87 australia Remy Gardner  Tech 3 25.128
16 37 spain Augusto Fernandez  Speed Up 33.460
17 89 malaysia Khairul Idham Pawi  Kalex 33.931
18 2 switzerland Jesko Raffin  Kalex 40.110
19 20 united_states Joe Roberts  Kalex 43.888
20 6 united_kingdom Tarran Mackenzie  Suter 46.097
21 27 spain Iker Lecuona  Kalex 2 laps
Ret 44 portugal Miguel Oliveira  KTM 5 laps
Ret  62 italy Stefano Manzi  Kalex 12 laps
Ret  5 italy Andrea Locatelli  Kalex 13 laps
Ret  32 spain Isaac Viñales  Kalex 14 laps
Ret  97 spain Xavi Vierge  Tech 3 24 laps
Ret  19 belgium Xavier Simeon  Kalex 24 laps
Ret  40 france Fabio Quartararo  Kalex -
Ret  11 germany Sandro Cortese  Suter -
Ret  7 italy Lorenzo Baldassarri  Kalex -
Ret  10 italy Luca Marini  Kalex -
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About this article
Series Moto2
Event Spielberg
Track Red Bull Ring
Drivers Franco Morbidelli
Teams Marc VDS Racing
Article type Race report