Motegi Moto2: Quartararo beats Bagnaia in straight fight
Fabio Quartararo came on top in a tense duel with championship leader Francesco Bagnaia to win the Motegi Moto2 round on Sunday.
MotoGP-bound Quartararo was quick off the line from the middle of the front row but ran wide at Turn 1, handing the lead back to polesitter Bagnaia.
But Quartararo quickly recouped to put himself on the rear of Bagnaia and swiftly passed him towards the end of lap 3 as the two pulled away from rest of the field.
The Speed Up rider managed to build a half-a-second buffer early on while Bagnaia fell into the clutches of Lorenzo Baldassarri, but Bagnaia upped his pace to resume the two-way fight for victory.
Quartararo appeared to have the measure of Bagnaia until about four laps to go, when the championship leader tried a desperate move at the S curve.
From there on the two ran in close formation to the chequered flag, with Quartararo hanging on to score his second win of the season following his Barcelona triumph earlier in the year.
Pons rider Baldassarri had a lonely race en route to third as he finished over six seconds behind the leading duo.
Bagnaia’s closest championship challenger Miguel Oliveira (KTM) jumped up from ninth to sixth on the opening lap and then reeled in Alex Marquez on lap two.
However, his early charge didn’t last long as he finished a a distant fourth after overtaking Xavi Vierge in the second half of the race, 12 seconds behind Quartararo.
Marquez - who escaped injury after a dramatic crash in Friday practice - dropped to the lower regions of the top 10, but the Marc VDS rider staged an impressive recovery to finish fifth, just two tenths ahead of Brad Binder (KTM).
Augusto Fernandez (Pons) finished seventh ahead of Vierge (Intact GP), while front-row starter Iker Lecuona finished no higher than ninth.
The CGBM Evolution rider made a decent getaway off the line but ran over a kerb in the opening sequence of corners, dropping down the order.
He managed to return to the group comprising Oliveira, Marquez, Binder and others but then made an unforced error, slipping back again.
Bagnaia’s VR46 teammate Luca Marini completed the top 10, while future Suzuki MotoGP rider Joan Mir was an anonymous 12th on the second Marc VDS bike.
|1||20||Fabio Quartararo||Speed Up||41'03.849|
|16||87||Remy Gardner||Tech 3||24.913|
|23||89||Khairul Idham Pawi||Kalex||38.366|
|24||57||Edgar Pons||Speed Up||43.015|
|Ret||64||Bo Bendsneyder||Tech 3||1 Lap|
|Ret||9||Jorge Navarro||Kalex||9 Laps|
|Ret||21||Federico Fuligni||Kalex||13 Laps|
|Ret||24||Simone Corsi||Kalex||19 Laps|
Aegerter facing Moto2 exit at the end of 2018
Quartararo stripped of Motegi Moto2 victory