Remy Gardner passed Ajo team-mate Raul Fernandez late on to claim victory in the Catalan Moto2 Grand Prix to extend his championship lead.
Gardner converted pole into the lead at Turn 1 as the contest got underway, the recently-signed 2022 Tech 3 MotoGP man leading Fernandez and SAG’s Bo Bensneyder as the top three qualifiers all held position at the start.
The Aussie serenely led the way for the opening half of the race unchallenged ahead of Fernandez, the duo keeping around a seconds worth of advantage over Bensneyder, the Dutch racer working to keep Petronas SRT’s Xavi Vierge behind.
Fernandez though reckoned he had a little more pace in his pocket than Gardner, the two-time ’21 victor moving his Ajo machine into the lead just past half-way before trying to build up a gap over his title rival.
Gardner remained well within range of his rookie team-mate though across the subsequent half-a-dozen laps, and having saved his tyres more effectively re-took the lead from Fernandez with a bold move at Turn 1 just a few laps from the end.
He then stretched away over the final couple of tours as Fernandez began to struggle for grip, coming home for his second straight intermediate class win 1.8 seconds clear to extend his points lead to 11 ahead of Fernandez.
Vierge ended up completing the rostrum positions after dispatching a fading Bensneyder late on, the Petronas SRT pilot having his hands full with a chasing Marco Bezzecchi in the closing laps, though the VR46 would ultimately have to settle for fourth after finding himself unable to mount a sustained attack.
Augusto Fernandez was the lead Marc VDS racer to take the chequered flag in fifth ahead of Bensneyder, while Sam Lowes was seventh after falling back early on with a poor start.
The Brit dropped to 12th before staging a semi-decent recovery across the rest of the encounter, though with chief rivals Gardner and Fernandez finishing up front his points deficit has now swelled to 64 adrift of Gardner.
Marcel Schrotter grabbed eighth for the Dynavolt squad ahead of Somkiat Chantra, while Joe Roberts battled back after a tough weekend to complete the top ten on his Italtrans machine.
Spanish GP winner Fabio Di Gianantonio crashed out late on with Hector Garzo, the former moving back across in front of the latter in the braking zone for Turn 1 and leaving the Pons man nowhere to go but into the rear of the Gresini-prepared Kalex, taking them both out while battling for eighth.
Honda Team Asia rookie Ai Ogura also failed to finish after crashing out from seventh with just a few circulations left, while Aron Canet also crashed from the position at around a thirds-distance.