Luca Marini domiantes Thai Moto2 contest to secure first win of the season
Luca Marini scored his and VR46’s first victory of the season in the Thai Moto2 contest at the Chang International circuit in dominant fashion.
Marini made a strong start to jump front-row starter Jorge Martin into third, before passing Tetsuta Nagashima for second on lap two.
The Italian then set his sights on leader Alex Marquez, quickly closing down the championship leader’s slender advantage.
The pair had built a handy lead over the rest when Marini made a brave move to dive past at Turn five to take the lead, immediately looking to build a gap.
He duly did so, never being headed across the remaining 21 laps to take the chequered flag 3.3 seconds clear of Brad Binder’s Ajo-run KTM.
Binder capped off an impressive recovery ride after only managing the 12th quickest time in qualifying to snatch second from Iker Lecuona on the final lap, diving past into the final corner with a bold move.
He just about got his bike stopped to prevent Lecuona from getting back ahead on the run to the line, forcing him to have to settle for third.
It was however the Spaniard’s first podium of the season, defeating title contenders Augusto Fernandez and Marquez to the final rostrum position.
Fernandez moved ahead of Marquez late on, the pair swapping places several times before the Pons man finally made the move stick into the final turn with only a handful of laps remaining.
Jorge Martin meanwhile backed up his third place in qualifying with his best ever intermediate class result in sixth, the Ajo rider just a few seconds away from the podium battle throughout the whole race.
Thomas Luthi came home a distant seventh ahead of Niccolo Bulega, while home hero Somkiat Chantra secured his best finish of the season for Honda Team Asia in ninth.
Marco Bezzechhi also matched his best result of the season to round out the top ten for Tech 3 KTM.
A promising day for the SAG Racing squad turned to misery as both Remy Gardner and Nagashima-who even took the lead into Turn 1 on the first lap- dropped down the order as the race went on, eventually crossing the line just 12th and 15th respectively.
Speed Up also had a tough day, with both Jorge Navarro and Fabio Di Gianantonio failing to score-meaning Navarro drops from second to fifth in the riders standings as a result.
Sam Lowes also struggled significantly, the Gresini man running 18th for most of the race before crashing out at Turn 8 with just a few laps to go.
Marquez’s title lead increases to 40 points over Fernandez with just four races remaining, meaning he could potentially seal the title in Australia should he extend his lead enough at Motegi in Japan in a couple of weeks time.