Marco Bezzecchi scorched to a first Moto2 win of 2021 as he held off Aron Canet to win the Syrian Grand Prix as the title contenders struggled.
The Italian made a rapid start to take the lead from third on the grid, passing pole-man and series leader Remy Gardner at Turn 1.
Bezzecchi continued to hold the lead across the first half-a-dozen tours before making an error at the first bend while under pressure from the recovering Gardner, though a poor exit from the Aussie saw Aspar’s Canet zoom past the pair into the top spot.
Gardner soon rebounded to re-take the leadership though by the end of the lap, quickly working to extend his advantage out in front.
Bezzecchi meanwhile began to mount a comeback as the race entered its second half, moving clear once again of Canet before chasing down Gardner-passing the Ajo pilot at Turn 1 with only six laps left to run.
His job was made all the more easier after Gardner made a huge error into Turn 4 as he locked the rear of his Triumph-powered machine, running off into the gravel and re-joining a distant fifth as a result.
This left Honda Team Asia rookie Ai Ogura to take up the mantle of challenging Bezzecchi, the Japanese star posting strong times as he edged ever closer.
His charge was soon ended by a long-lap punishment for multiple track limits transgressions though, dropping him to fifth as a result.
This left Bezzecchi to control proceedings out in front over the final few circulations to take the chequered flag 1.1 seconds clear of Canet, while Marc VDS Racing’s Augusto Fernandez took advantage of the problems of his fellow riders to complete the rostrum.
Gardner fended off Ogura over the final couple of tours to salvage fourth, while Celestino Vietti mounted as strong recovery in the closing stages to bag sixth having circulated way outside the top ten early on.
Raul Fernandez struggled for speed throughout and could only manage seventh ahead of the second Honda Team Asia entry of Somkiat Chantra, with Petronas SRT’s Xavi Vierge and Dynavolt’s Marcel Schrotter rounding out the top ten.
Sam Lowes saw a promising early opportunity for a good result amount to nothing as he slumped back to 14th in the closing tours, crossing the line just behind Gresini’s Fabio Di Gianantonio who also had a tough day at the office.
Gardner’s points lead is now 35 over team-mate Fernandez, although Bezzecchi’s win means he gains solid ground over the KTM Ajo pair heading to next weekend’s Austrian GP at the same Red Bull Ring venue, the VR46 man now 44 in-arrears of Gardner and just nine down on Fernandez.