Tom Luthi has stormed to victory in the Australian Grand Prix at the Phillip Island Circuit after the Swiss rider used a perfectly timed slipstream to out-drag Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli to the finish line. This win means Luthi has taken his first ever back-to-back victories in the world championship after his triumph last weekend at the Twin Ring Motegi. Sandro Cortese bounced back from a poor start, to slice his way through the field and claim his first rostrum in over a year.
The Interwetten rider got the holeshot from pole with Mattia Pasini slotting in second as Jonas Folger kept third. Championship leader and reigning Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco produced yet another poor start, tumbling down the order and by the end of lap one found himself in P16 with a lot of work to do.
A rare error saw Luthi lose the lead momentarily to Morbidelli but the Swiss rider composed himself and hit back as the front three began to stretch the field.
Further down, Championship contender Alex Rins made use of his difficult starting position to make his way up to tenth early on with Zarco back in P13. Things were looking good for the Spaniard as he was slowly chipping away through the field, making big dents into the Frenchman’s 21 point lead. Disaster struck however for Rins as a missed gear change at turn 2 resulted in the Paginas Amarillas HP40 rider sliding into the gravel and into retirement. He was out of the race and his championship aspirations have taken a huge knock, his disadvantage to Zarco 24 points.
The front group continuously traded places throughout the remaining laps, however it became evident that the top three were losing time to Lorenzo Baldassarri and Sandro Cortese behind, and a five way battle was looking to be on the cards.
A cruel late fall for Pasini meant it came down to Luthi and Morbidelli, with the Italian chasing his first championship victory. The two regularly traded positions in the final three laps with a last lap move from Morbidelli looking like it had sealed the Italians maiden victory, but the Marc VDS rider was denied as the cunning Luthi utilized the start/finish line slipstream to his advantage to steal victory from Morbidelli by only a hundredth of a second.
The pair were joined on the podium by Cortese, who fought his way impressively back to the leaders to claim his best result in over a year. Baldassarri had been leading the chasing group for a short while, eventually losing touch and having to settle for fourth. Takaaki Nakagami completed a solid weekend it fifth position.
After a strong turn of pace at the start, Jonas Folger finished a lonely sixth ahead of Simone Corsi who crossed the line in seventh. The Spanish duo of Axel Pons and Xavi Vierge scored valuable points in eight and ninth position with Pons’s teammate Marcel Schrotter rounding out the top ten.
Meanwhile, championship leader Johann Zarco completed a difficult race in P12, keeping his lead in the standing as both Alex Rins and Sam Lowes crashed out of the race.
As the Moto2 grid head to the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, Zarco’s lead in the championship has now been reduced to 22 points and with Luthi being the inform rider, there could be another twist in this Moto2 tale.
Image Via: Motorsport.com