Surgery to victory: Raul Fernandez takes Aragon by storm
The rookie sensation takes a heroic win just seven days after metacarpal surgery and closes teammate Gardner down in the title race
We’re running out of superlatives to describe Raul Fernandez’ (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2021 campaign. Just seven days after undergoing surgery on a fractured metacarpal, the rookie sensation blitzed his way to Moto2™ victory at the Gran Premio TISSOT de Aragon to beat second place Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by 5.4s, as Red Bull KTM Ajo claim the 2021 Team title. Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) produced a fantastic comeback ride to pick up the final podium spot.
Astonishing Raul Fernandez strikes again
The top three on the grid all got away well and polesitter Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was the last of the late brakers to grab the holeshot, as the British rider led from Gardner and Raul Fernandez. Lowes opened up a 0.6s advantage on the opening lap as Raul Fernandez passed title rival Gardner for second at Turn 12, as Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) grabbed P4 from Hector Garzo (FlexBox HP 40). The fastest lap of the race on Lap 2 for Raul Fernandez saw him cut Lowes’ lead to just 0.2s, with Gardner sitting 0.4s down on his teammate in third.
The battered and bruised Fernandez then decided to take the lead at the beginning of Lap 4, with Gardner exchanging P3 with Ogura just behind. Gardner was having a scrapping opening handful of laps in Aragon, the Aussie was wide at Turn 12 and once again conceded P3 to Ogura. Soon after, Garzo was also ahead of Gardner. It was a fascinating scrap that Gardner found himself in, but in getting caught up with the likes of Ogura and Garza – who crashed at Turn 8 on Lap 5 – the gap to Lowes and Fernandez was up to 1.9s.
With 10 laps down, Raul Fernandez was holding Lowes at bay by just over a second. Gardner was over three seconds down on Lowes and had Jorge Navarro (+EGO Speed Up) and Aron Canet (Kipin Energy Aspar Team) in hot pursuit. On Lap 12, Marco Bezzecchi’s (SKY Racing Team VR46) quiet weekend came to a premature end at Turn 8, the Italian slid out of contention unhurt – his title aspirations now hanging by a thread.
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After seeing Raul Fernandez stretch his lead to nearly one and a half seconds, a gift was then handed to both Red Bull KTM Ajo riders. Lowes was in the gravel – uninjured – at Turn 7 with nine laps to go, the British rider’s race was over, as Raul Fernandez now held a 6.3s lead over second place Gardner.
In the end, Raul Fernandez was unstoppable. Fighting the pain, the gap to Gardner in the Championship is down to 39 points, as Fernandez becomes the first Moto2™ rookie to take at least five wins since Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Red Bull KTM Ajo are confirmed as the Team Championship winners in 2021, a fully deserved accolade and just to top it off, Fernandez’ win was Ajo’s 100th in Grand Prix racing. Future Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Augusto Fernandez was as low as 15th at one point, but the Spaniard dug deep to claim a fourth podium in five races.
Raul Fernandez: “It was really difficult race and weekend. In the end I’m happy I did not have to work too much for it. We were very strong today. I could not do more with my hand. I could not brake properly for the last five laps. I’m really happy to be here and I have to thank all the people that helped me to be on the podium. This is my first victory in Spain and in front of my family and the fans.”
The remaining point scorers
Navarro narrowly missed out on a second consecutive podium, with Canet finished three seconds down the rostrum fight in P5. P6 went the way of Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), as newly crowned Moto2™ European Champion Fermin Aldeguer (+EGO Speed Up) claimed a stunning P7 – watch out for his name in years to come. Ogura slipped back and took P8, with fellow rookie Tony Arbolino (Liqui Moly Intact GP) finishing P9.
The experienced Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) rounded out the top 10, the Italian beat Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), Marcos Ramirez (American Racing), Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) in the remaining point scoring positions.
Who’d have thought it? Raul Fernandez, riding with a fractured hand, storms to victory. Gardner said his second feels like a victory, and the Aussie holds a 39-point lead heading to Misano.
- Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
- Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 5.408
- Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 6.824
- Jorge Navarro (+EGO Speed Up) + 7.051
- Aron Canet (Kipin Energy Aspar Team) + 10.695
- Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 15.160
- Fermin Aldeguer (+EGO Speed Up) + 16.730
- Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 17.085
- Tony Arbolino (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 17.704
- Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) + 20.121
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