Stunning first win for the Austrian factory, and a first win for Portugal in the intermediate class
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was in a class of his own in the Australian GP, taking victory by three seconds – the gap having been as high as six – and crossing the line to take KTM’s first win in Moto2. The history making continued in second, as teammate Brad Binder took his first ever podium in the intermediate class as his rookie year gains traction following a tough, injury-hit start to the season. Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took third and protected his title hopes, making good gains in the standings on key rival Tom Lüthi, who had a tough day to come home tenth.
Off the line it was Oliveira who took the holeshot, with polesitter Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) losing out and Binder moving up into second. Morbidelli slotted into third, with Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) moving into fourth. Lüthi got a good start and shot up into sixth, moving around the outside as he attempted to get in the fight at the front.
The pack then started to shuffle, and a crash for Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) collected Pasini and sent Aegerter wide – as Oliveira started pulling away at the front. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) suffered a big moment, and Lüthi began to struggle – as the top trio of Oliveira, Binder and Morbidelli found themselves in clear air. Oliveira had an advantage of six seconds with seven laps to go.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was the rider on the charge mid-race, moving up and then into podium contention before passing both Binder and Morbidelli. The South African and the Italian exchanged some tough passes and spectacular moves, before then the rain flag came out near the end of the race and Nakagami slid out ahead of the duo. Oliveira crossed the line almost three seconds clear, with Binder setting the fastest lap on the penultimate lap to take second and Morbidelli a safe third.
Jesko Raffin (Garage Plus Interwetten) put in an impressive performance for fourth, ahead of another top ride from Motegi podium finisher Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing). Alex Marquez recovered from his moment early in the race to pull clear of a number of riders and take sixth, ahead of Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), Aegerter, a solid ride from Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Lüthi.
Axel Pons (RW Racing GP), Francesco Bagnaia and teammate Stefano Manzi (Sky Racing Team VR46), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) – despite dislocating his shoulder on Saturday – and home hero Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) completed the points.
The advantage is now 29 points for Morbidelli at the top, giving him his first shot at the title at Sepang International Circuit, which is up next.