Red Bull KTM’s home hero Raul Fernandez took his first Moto2 win on Spanish soil at Aragón just days after undergoing surgery on his broken right hand.
The Ajo team’s celebrations continued as Remy Gardner secured second at a track he far from favours, Sam Lowes crashing out of the position at mid-race with his Marc VDS teammate, Augusto Fernandez collecting the final podium spot on the final lap.
Lowes launched from his fourth pole at the MotorLand venue ahead of the 21-lap race. The Brit facing the imposing company of both KTM title challengers alongside him on in the front row.
As the lights released the 32-strong field, Lowes retained his advantage with the holeshot. Gardner led Fernandez through the opening sector with Ai Ogura getting the better of Hector Garzo for fourth before the KTM’s switched positions.
Lowes had a sixth-tenth lead by the start of lap two as the teammates battled behind. Albert Arenas sitting sixth until Jorge Navarro arrived, Fabio Di Giannantonio, Aron Canet and Xavi Vierge completing the early top 10. A good start saw Joe Roberts up to 13th as the third lap got going, Augusto Fernandez facing opposing fortunes as he dropped to 15th.
Arenas hit back for position next time around, the fight allowing the riders ahead to break free as the Boscoscuro battle played out. Ogura was the next to challenge, as Gardner ran wide, the Australian regrouping and regaining the position moments later.
Out front Fernandez stole the lead from Lowes, as Piotr Biesiekirski crashed out from the back. Vierge, Tom Luthi and Garzo the next to succumb to the Spanish circuit.
Fernandez had a dominant seventh-tenth lead as lap five reached its conclusion, Gardner a further two-seconds back from the Marc VDS in second. Ogura sat firmly on the wheels of the second KTM with Navarro likewise in fifth.
Arenas’ strong start came to an abrupt end at turn eight after running eighth while his Aspar teammate bettered Ogura for fifth. Marco Bezzecchi was the next to pick off the Team Asia rider, Di Giannantonio and Fernandez waiting patiently behind. Lorenzo Dalla Porta suffering another early fall with 14 laps to go.
Cameron Beaubier was in touch of his countryman as lap nine began, the Americans circulating on the edge of the points in 15th and 16th with Fermín Aldeguer ahead.
Disaster struck Bezzecchi at turn eight with 12 to go, the Italian’s championship hopes sliding through the gravel as the Sky VR46 rider fell down the hill.
The leading pair were split by a second, but four ahead of the rest of the pack two laps later. Gardner himself, breaking almost two-seconds free in third.
The drama, however, was far from over as Lowes crashed out at turn seven after losing the front with nine to go. Hopes of continuing his dominance at the mountain circuit gone.
The gap out front was now seven-seconds as Gardner looked to reign in his rookie, and injured, teammate. The second Marc VDS man turning his race around as he advanced to fourth, having run 15th at the start of the race.
It was briefly a double Fernandez podium as Augusto looked for a move round Navarro, the Speed Up fighting back one corner later with five laps left to run and the Spanish battle continuing as the race counted down.
Nicolò Bulega and Somkiat Chantra were the next to fall as lap 18 played out, Beaubier and Roberts bickering for points in 13th.
The final lap found Fernandez back in third as the race neared its peak, just two-seconds adrift of Gardner. Navarro seeming to settle for fourth from Canet, Di Giannantonio and Ogura. Marcel Schrotter sat eighth ahead of the impressive new talent of Aldeguer with Tony Arbolino on the edge of the top 10. The second Speed Up was on a charge as he scalped both Schrotter and Ogura for seventh moments later, Arbolino also denying the German in the dying seconds.
Fernandez claimed the victory one week after surgery on his right hand to become the first rookie to take five wins in his debut season since Marc Marquez, his namesake coming home behind Gardner to complete the podium celebrations.
Simone Corsi claimed 11th at the flag - before being promoted by a post-race penalty for Schrotter for exceeding track limits - with Marcos Ramirez in 12th, Roberts beating Beaubier and Celestino Vietti in the final points positions. John McPhee completing his Moto2 debut in 20th after beating Xavi Cardelus in the closing seconds.