Only one of last year’s Austrian Moto2 podium finishers remains in the class – Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) was second at the Red Bull Ring between Morbidelli and Luthi – and the 22-year-old Spaniard will be hoping to better that this Sunday, after crashing out at Brno last weekend.
Marquez’s second no-score of the year did a lot of damage to his world-title hopes, dropping him to 53 points behind new series leader Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM). The 23-year-old Portuguese won a thrilling race at Brno to move into the lead of the Honda CBR600-powered championship, taking over from Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) who finished the race a close third, just behind team-mate Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex).
Bagnaia finished fourth at the Red Bull Ring last year, while Oliveira crashed out fighting for the podium, so will the pendulum swing once again this weekend? Currently the Italian trails the Portuguese by just two points, so anything could happen over the remaining nine races. But unless Marquez manages a miracle, the battle for the 2018 Moto2 crown looks likely to be a two-way duel. So far Oliveira has won two races – Mugello and Brno – to Bagnaia’s four – Losail, COTA, Le Mans and Assen.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex) closed to within seven points of Marquez with a fine ride to fourth at Brno and will be looking to advance further in the championship this weekend. The young Italian has been on the podium three times so far this year – including a win at May’s Spanish Grand Prix – and knows he needs to up his game during the second half of the season.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) holds fifth overall, just ahead of top rookie Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) and Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter). The current Moto2 top ten is completed by Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter), Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up Racing Speed Up) and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex).