Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) secured what’s likely the most important victory of his career at the Grande Prémio Brembo do Algarve and now takes a 23-point lead into the final round in Valencia. The Australian got the better of rival and teammate Raul Fernandez as the Spaniard had to settle for P2 despite an early lead. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) completed the podium, ultimately less than a second away from Fernandez.
As the lights went out, Raul Fernandez and Gardner both made good starts and they launched into Turn 1 as they lined up on the grid – P1 and P2. Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) made a lightning start from seventhto push his way up into P3 in the opening exchanges too, and the Italian was soon ahead of Gardner to boot. The top three – Raul Fernandez, Bezzecchi and Gardner – were split by just over a second in the early stages, with Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) in an impressive fourth, two seconds down on the podium fight.
After shadowing Bezzecchi for a few laps, Gardner was back up into P2 on Lap 9, with Raul Fernandez’ lead standing at just over a second. As things were, the gap between the Red Bull KTM Ajo pair would have been 13 points heading to Valencia, but Gardner was starting to reel his teammate in…
Turn 1, Lap 13. Gardner, with more grip, was truly on the scene and passed Raul Fernandez down the hill. Bezzecchi was three seconds further behind, so it looked set to send in a duel, but Gardner wasn’t pulling away. The number 25 of his teammate was latched onto his rear tyre, with Lowes the new threat in P3 as the Brit caught and passed Bezzecchi.
Heading into the final five laps, Raul Fernandez was still hanging in there but couldn’t get close enough to make a move. But with three to go, the gap went up over a second, and it only increased from there…
By the last lap, Lowes was lapping nearly a second a lap quicker than Raul Fernandez too, and if the number 22 overtook the number 25, that would hand the title to Gardner. And the Brit got close but not quite close enough, with Gardner taking 25 points under extreme pressure and in a fair bit of pain after his crash on Friday. Fernandez hung on in second, and Lowes completed the podium after another good ride at the front, pulling a little more clear in fourth overall heading to Valencia.
Aron Canet (QuieroCorredor Aspar Team) ultimately pipped Beaubier to P4 but the duo crossed the line just 0.005 apart, and the American equalled his best Moto2 result. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) claimed P6 as the Italian once again impresses, the rookie beating Jorge Navarro (Termozeta Speed Up) by eight tenths. Bezzecchi slipped from P2 to P8 at the chequered flag. Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) rounded out the top 10.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) couldn’t covert a front row start into a podium attack, the Italian finishing P11, with Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP40), Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP40), Marcos Ramirez (American Racing) and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) picked up the final points.
Gardner’s victory sees him have one hand and four fingers on the 2021 Moto2 World title, but it’s not over until it’s over. A phenomenal season finale is coming up in Valencia between the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo… so who comes out on top after a thrilling season?
The Australian has gathered 12 podiums through a consistent term that included wins in Italy, Catalunya, Germany, Great Britain and now Portugal. Fernandez has 11 rostrum appearances. Gardner and Fernandez’s will end their gripping dispute at next week’s season-closing Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana on Sunday November 14th.
“One of the hardest races and one of my best. Especially with all that pressure. I was pretty clear that we’d go with the hard tyre and it worked out. I had to really push in the first stage of race to stay with Raul. My ribs were hurting, and it was really tough. I don’t know how I did it to be honest.”
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