Moto2

Stefan Bradl wins thrilling, topsy-turvy Moto2 race at Estoril

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A thrilling, topsy-turvy Moto2 race opened proceedings at Estoril with the track still damp in places following some morning rainfall, though dry enough to make slick tyres the unanimous choice.

The race was won by first-timer Moto2 winner Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Suter) who beat Alex Baldolini (Caretta Technology Race Dept, I.C.P.) by just seven hundredths of a second.

Bradl, former 125 GP winner and son of former GP rider Helmut Bradl (who won five 250 GPs for Honda in 1991) rode a perfectly judged race, pushing hardest where the track was at its most grippy and taking care in the less grippy final part of the lap. Baldolini did get in front a few laps from the flag but Bradl had a better pace and eventually Baldolini settled for second and his first-ever podium finish.

The battle for the final podium featured plenty of rough and tumble, with a group of nine riders going for third place in the final laps. Phillip Island winner Alex De Angelis (JIR Moto2, Motobi) won the fight in the final seconds, outpacing Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team, Suter) and impressive Moto2 first-timer Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP, Suter) in the run to the chequered flag. Both de Angelis and Redding had charged through the pack after a steady first few laps when the track was still quite damp in places. The pair were 12th and 21st at the end of lap one.

Sofuoglo was the star performer in the early stages, breaking away from the pack at a terrific rate to build a seven second advantage in the first 11 laps, despite the treacherous conditions. But he was struggling with a loose left handlebar, the legacy of a crash during morning warm-up. His mechanics had still been fixing the damaged bike on the grid, hence the oversight.

With the handlebar causing him problems, the double World Supersport Champion's lead dwindled rapidly and he was caught by Bradl and Baldolini with seven laps remaining. While the 20-year-old German and the 25-year-old Italian continued their battle for the lead, Sofuoglo fell back into the clutches of the pack, where he did his best to hold onto that final podium place. At the finish line there was just 1.7 seconds between third-place De Angelis and 11th-placed Hector Faubel (Marc VDS Racing Team, Suter).

Sofuoglo joined the Moto2 grid at Estoril just a few weeks after clinching his second World Supersport crown with Ten Kate Honda, riding a Honda CBR600RR. The 26-year-old takes the place of Technomag-CIP rider Shoya Tomizawa who lost his life in a high-speed accident during last month's San Marino Moto2 race.

"The race was very difficult because we didn't have any dry practice, so we just fitted slick tyres for the race and hoped that we would have a good dry set-up for this track," Bradl explained.

"I could see the track was still a bit damp in places, so I was careful where the track was wet, like the last corner, and I pushed hard everywhere else. The bike worked well. I tried my best to keep my concentration during the last five laps when I always saw 'plus zero' on my pit-board. I really needed this win because it's been a long time ‰ÛÒ my last GP win was in 2008, with the 125. The first part of this season was difficult because it took time for us to learn the bike and for me to get used to the four-stroke riding style. At the last races things have been getting better and better. We have learned a lot and we hope to carry this into 2011," the Viessmann Kiefer Racing rider concluded.

Caretta Technology Race Dept, I.C.P's Alex Baldolini said, "It's a very good sensation to stand on the podium! During the race I tried not to think about it ‰ÛÒ I kept telling myself to relax, that this is just another race, just ride your best and see where you are at the flag. I tried very hard to keep my focus during the last laps. I attacked Stefan with two laps to go, then he overtook me again and I decided, okay, second place is good enough. I want to say thanks to my team and my family. The team has done a great job in the last part of the season ‰ÛÒ the bike is now very good."

For Alex De Angelis it was the third time the JIR Moto2 rider has mounted the podium. "This is another very important podium, my third in a row. The end of the race was incredible. After the start I tried to stay calm and told myself that this was a long race and that the track would improve. But it was very difficult riding slick tyres on a track that was still damp in some corners. Towards the end of the race the track was much more dry and grippy, so I was able to fight a lot with the other riders and risk this podium."

Andrea Iannone put in an amazing ride to charge from the back of the pack to fifth before crashing out in the closing laps, championship winner Toni Elias was another to fall foul of the slippery first corner.

The MotoGP circus now drives across the Iberian peninsula to Valencia, where the last of this year's 18 World Championship events will take place next weekend at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, just inland from the Mediterranean city of Valencia.

Main Photo: Stefan Bradl on the podium with Baldolini and Alex De Angelis
Credit: HRC


Estoril results
1 Stefan Bradl 46m59.723s
2 Alex Baldolini +0.068s
3 Alex De Angelis +2.830s
4 Scott Redding +2.842s
5 Kenan Sofuoglu +2.947s
6 Raffaele De Rosa +3.311s
7 Anthony West +3.385s
8 Gabor Talmacsi +3.952s
9 Dominique Aegerter +4.284s
10 Karel Abraham +4.311s

Round 16 - Standings
1 Toni Elias 271
2 Julian Simon 185
3 Andrea Iannone 179
4 Thomas Luthi 143
5 Simone Corsi 129
6 Gabor Talmacsi 103
7 Jules Cluzel 101
8 Stefan Bradl 97
9 Scott Redding 91
10 Yuki Takahashi 86

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