Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) won a tense Moto2 race, his first-ever Grand Prix victory, two places ahead of team-mate Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex), who secured the 2018 Honda CBR600-powered Moto2 World Championship with the Valencia season finale still to go. Bagnaia’s first crown is well deserved: he has won eight races to the two wins achieved by title runner-up Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM).
Twenty-year-old Marini – half-brother of Valentino Rossi – led the race from start to finish, resisting relentless pressure from Oliveira, who was the only rider with any chance of keeping Bagnaia from winning the championship.
Marini, who only scored his first Grand Prix podium at Assen in July, had to keep pushing all the way, especially after Oliveira had taken second place from Bagnaia just before half-distance. Twenty-three-year-old Oliveira dearly wanted to win today’s race, because he knew Bagnaia was likely to secure the title. However, although he closed the gap to Marini to just three tenths of a second, he was never able to get closer as his younger rival responded superbly to the pressure.
At the chequered flag Marini was 1.194 seconds ahead of Oliveira, with Bagnaia three seconds behind his team-mate, for a double team celebration on the podium. During the closing stages Bagnaia was chased by Argentine GP winner Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex).
Fifth-place went to the hard-fighting Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up Racing Speed Up), who came back from ninth place in the early stages. His last victim was Spanish GP winner Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex).
Pole-position man Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) had a horrible first lap, which left him down in ninth place, and with a lot of work to do. He crossed the line in seventh, comfortably clear of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM), who won last Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix and today made sure of third place in the World Championship. Binder just beat Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter) past the chequered flag. Top rookie Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) completed the top ten.