Raul Fernandez was back on form with his fourth win of 2021 at his KTM team’s home race, Ai Ogura further showcasing the might of the Moto2 rookies with a stunning second at Spielberg.
Augusto Fernandez completed the set in the second race of the AustrianGP weekend with team-mate Sam Lowes settling for fourth. Fellow Brit Jake Dixon completed his final Red Bull Ring outing in 11th.
The Moto2 grid prepared with one less rider than expected after Lorenzo Baldassarri was withdrawn from competition on Sunday morning. The Italian discovering that he has an internal hematoma in the second metacarpal of his left hand, after continuing to suffer with the injury from his Sachsenring crash back in mid-June.
Lowes was back in charge as the lights went out, the Brit launching from pole with a pair of confident rookies, in the form of Fernandez and Ogura, hard on his wheels. Lowes and Marco Bezzecchi two of just a handful of riders opting to stay on the hard rear tyre option with the majority choosing Dunlop’s new soft allocation.
The top-four maintained position as the first lap fired out of the blocks, Augusto Fernandez looking to challenge Ogura for third before settling into his original position. Contact further back scattered the pack after a lunge from Cameron Beaubier, with Stefano Manzi and Jorge Navarro crashing out - the Flexbox rider remounting and regrouping at the back. Remy Gardner finding himself in 10th after the opening chaos with Albert Arenas forced to retire.
It was a KTM in control on home soil as Fernandez made his move on Lowes out front, Ogura and the second Marc VDS maintaining their hold on the leading group with Marcel Schrotter seven-tenths back at the head of group two. Somkiat Chantra, Aron Canet sat sixth and seventh and a pair of Sky VR46 machines, in the hands of Celestino Vietti and Bezzecchi, circulated together one-second behind.
Lowes was in third as lap five completed, Ogura moving through to second moments before with Fernandez dropping his teammate to fourth as the lap unfolded. There was limited progress from championship leader Gardner in the opening stages, the Australian running ninth after getting the better of Bezzecchi with almost two-seconds now the gap to bridge to the group ahead.
Lap eight saw the pack spread out into pairs as multiple battles developed, Vietti making a move on Canet for sixth as Schrotter crashed out at turn one with 17 laps to go.
The Sky rider was on a mission as he continued to progress, finding fifth on lap 10 to trail the inter-team battle of Lowes and Fernandez by two-seconds and dispatching front-running pace.
Turn one claimed another victim as Barry Baltus crashed out at the start of lap 11, Dixon running 12th and just three-tenths behind Fabio Di Giannantonio as he set his sights on the top-10.
Gardner was up to seventh with 11 to go having successfully dispatched Canet after a mid-race-battle. Chantra seemingly comfortable with 3.5s in hand for sixth before the Thai rider got the better of Vietti and improved to fifth.
Fernandez held a half-second gap with eighth to go as the leading group spread out. Ogura himself keeping the Marc VDS pair in check by seventh-tenths with Lowes trailing his teammate by another second. The top-four riders running near-identical 1’29.4 pace as the race wound down.
Four to go and Ogura was in the hunt, two-tenths now the gap to the leading KTM with the Honda rider having broken the Elf machines behind.
The battle of the rookies continued through the closing laps with the pendulum swinging in favour of each player as they navigated the Styrian layout. Fernandez pushed the pace in the penultimate lap as he regrouped with a seventh-tenth advantage, the Japanese rider seeming to settle for a sensational second as the chequered flag prepared to fly.
Fernandez claimed his fourth victory of 2021 with Ogura on the podium for the first time in the Moto2 class. The celebrations completed by the second Fernandez as Lowes settled for fourth with a determined ride on hard rubber.
Vietti took in fifth as the VR46 rider crossed the line 0.068s ahead of Chantra, before the Italian was found to have exceeded track limits during the final lap battle and denied the position. Gardner sat seventh as Canet, Luthi and Bezzecchi completed the top-10. Dixon finished 11th from Di Giannantonio, Tony Arbolino and Xavi Vierge with Hector Garzo claiming the final point.