Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport Kalex) completed a remarkable two seasons of domination of the Honda-powered Moto2 series with a hard-fought final victory in the intermediate category. He will commence his MotoGP during testing here on Tuesday.
The Frenchman fought back and forth with up-and-coming Italian Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS Kalex) for the first half of the race, with the pair overtaking each other several times each lap. Finally, Zarco’s experience told as Morbidelli had asked too much of his rear tire. After retaking the lead from Morbidelli at turn six on lap 16, Zarco upped his pace and broke away from his pursuers to win his seventh victory of 2016 by more than three seconds.
Meanwhile Morbidelli fell back into the clutches of class veteran Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex), who took second place on the final lap. Moments later Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex) pounced at the final corner to take fourth place from Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex). Less than one second separated Morbidelli from Rins in a typically hard-fought race in which all riders use identically prepared Honda CBR600 engines.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) was the best of the rest, establishing himself in a strong sixth place, well clear of Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex), Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex), Danny Kent (Leopard Racing Kalex) and Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team Kalex) who completed the top ten.
Preparations for the 2017 MotoGP season commence here with a two-day test on Tuesday and Wednesday for the premier-class only.
“It’s fantastic - I’m really happy to win my final race in Moto2. I was happy to be on pole yesterday, even though I knew Franco and Thomas had a better race pace. I told myself, hey man, just go and enjoy yourself. I didn’t let them go. Franco is a young guy - he’s very aggressive and never gives up, so my congratulations to him for his race. I also want to say thanks to my team who gave me a bike that made me confident to attack. After 15 laps I felt better than ever.”
“It’s great to finish second in the last race and in the championship. I could see Franco had some grip problems towards the end of the race, so I knew that maybe I could catch him. But it wasn’t easy because he was very strong. Anyway, I’m very happy and more motivated than ever for the 2017 season.”
“I had a bit of bad luck this afternoon - I destroyed the rear tire so it wasn’t at its best during the last few laps. The main thing is that I had a lot of fun fighting for second place all the way to the finish. This is my fifth podium in a row which is great and gives me a lot of motivation for next year. I could chase Zarco at first but as always be was faster in the second half of the race and I could not stay with him.”