South African claimed his second win of the season as the Championship takes another twist
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder produced a flawless ride at the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon to secure his second win of 2019. Jorge Navarro (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) claimed his fourth second of the season to get the better of Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), as there was first lap drama for Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40).
After a magnificent getaway, Binder grabbed the holeshot ahead of Marquez and Fernandez to lead the way, with Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) also getting a great start to launch himself into P2. Binder wasn’t hanging about on the opening lap as he started to stretch away, but a huge twist in the title race then unfolded at Turn 9. Tucked in behind main Championship rival Marquez, Fernandez lost the front and slid out of contention on Lap 1. The Spaniard remounted but his hopes of a third win on the spin had ended.
At the end of Lap 1, Binder held a 0.7 advantage over Marini and Marquez, with Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Navarro also in hot pursuit as the top five made a break at the front. Marquez and Marini were embroiled in a great scrap for second, with Navarro setting two consecutive fastest laps to get past Lüthi and onto the tailpipes of the riders in P2 and P3, with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) now starting to close in on the top quintet. With Marquez and Marini swapping paint, Binder was racing clear as his lead reached the two second mark on Lap 11. That lap saw slight contact between Marini and Marquez at Turn 5, with an eager Navarro running wide at Turn 12.
On Lap 12, Marquez went for a pass on Marini at Turn 1 once more. The two were deep but with Turn 2 being a right-hander, the Italian held position but the Championship leader then put a daring move up the inside at Turn 4 – and executed it to perfection. The Spaniard was now in the driving seat to close the leading KTM down, with Navarro then following Marquez through a lap later at Turn 12. Then, Binder’s lead started to deteriorate. Two seconds became 1.5 seconds and with five laps remaining, the gap was down to just over a second. Marquez had Navarro nipping at his heels like a Jack Russell as the pair were showing better pace than Binder, but the South African was keeping his cool out front.
With three to go, Navarro pounced at Turn 1. A super-tidy move into the hard braking zone now saw Navarro with the bit between his teeth as he set his sights on a first Moto2™ victory. At this point, with Fernandez scoring zero points, Marquez was seemingly happy to take third – and rightly so. However, Navarro wasn’t happy with P2. There was no way the Spaniard was going to let Binder have the win without a fight and the Speed Up was closing. With two to go the gap dipped below a second and with Binder running wide at Turn 16 on the penultimate lap, Binder had just a 0.4 cushion over Navarro heading onto the last lap. However, Binder wasn’t fazed and when Navarro was slightly deep at Turn 8, it looked like it was done and dusted. And it was when Navarro got the rear lit up on the exit of Turn 15 – down the straight they came and it was Binder who rounded the final corner to take a sensational victory. Navarro climbed above Fernandez into second in the Championship, but Marquez was the biggest winner. 38 points is now the Spaniard’s advantage over Navarro heading to Thailand.
Marini held onto P4 despite late pressure from Lowes who takes his second consecutive P5. Lüthi couldn’t keep tabs on the top five in the latter stages as the Swiss rider takes P6 away from Aragon, he now sits just two points behind Fernandez and six off Navarro in the overall standings. American Racing KTM’s Iker Lecuona takes a P7 at his home Grand Prix, this the Spaniard’s best finish since his P4 at Round 2 in Argentina. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) finished just under a second from Lecuona in P8, with Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completing the top 10 at their home race.
After a superb Aragon GP, it’s advantage Marquez heading into the final five races of the season. Navarro now takes over as his main rival from Fernandez, as Thailand awaits. Will we witness more drama in Buriram? Binder will be hoping to notch up victory number three…