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Moto2: Bradl wins Estoril thriller, Sofuoglu loses out
31 October 2010
Stefan Bradl won the best race of the Moto2 season at Estoril on Sunday.
The young German took his first Moto2 win after a by just 0.068sec over Alex Baldolini in a thrilling race that saw World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu lose a lead of over seven seconds - and denied a podium on the run to the line.
After a weekend of wet weather the race was held on a dry track, but with occasional damp patches present, meaning slick tyres and a 'best guess' for set-up.
Riding for the Technomag-CIP (Suter) team in place of the late Shoya Tomizawa, Sofuoglu began the race from the outside of the front row - and still sore after a big highside in warm-up - then made an instant impression by outbraking both pole sitter Gabor Talmacsi and new Moto2 champion Toni Elias to lead into turn one!
The Turkish star had been shuffled back to third by the end of his first dry lap at Estoril, and moved back and forth over the next few laps - all while bashing his left handlebar on the straights, to try and correct some kind of problem.
Sofuoglu took the lead for the final time by passing Yonny Hernandez on lap four of 26, and the Colombian grand prix rookie later crashed out while trying to hang on to Sofuoglu.
Thereafter, Sofuoglu looked set to embarrass the established Moto2 riders as he disappeared into the distance - but it wasn't to last.
Talmacsi may have dropped down the order from second, but the riders that replaced him - Bradl and Alex Baldolini - began closing rapidly on Sofuoglu, who was losing rear tyre from the middle stages.
The pair - neither of whom had taken a Moto2 podium - both blasted pass Sofuoglu on lap 19.
Another rider was denied the chance of a memorable victory at almost the same moment when triple Moto2 race winner Andrea Iannone crashed from fourth.
The Italian, Talmacsi's Fimmco Speed-Up team-mate, began the race just 35th on the grid after the cancellation of qualifying, but was lapping almost a second quicker than new leader Bradl - less than three seconds in front of him - at the time of his exit.
Bradl (Suter) and Baldolini (ICP) continued to contest victory to the flag, but just behind them a mighty ten-rider battle was raging for third place. Had they not be chopping and changing at just about every turn, the pack had the speed to catch the leaders, but the fairing bashing behind allowed Bradl and Baldolini breathing room.
It was Bradl's first win since 2008 in the 125cc class, while Baldolini had been without a podium after almost nine full years of grand prix racing! It was also by far the best result for the little known ICP chassis.
Sofuoglu seemed to regroup in the closing stages and was desperately clinging to third on the last lap, only to be passed by both Alex de Angelis and Scott Redding out of the very final turn.
Regardless of the end result, the 17 time WSS winner, who will also race in the Valencia finale, should have no problem finding a competitive ride for the full 2011 season, as is his aim.
By contrast, fellow 2010 world champion Elias, riding at the scene of his epic 2006 MotoGP race win, had a day to forget after crashing from eighth on lap 16. It was Toni's first non-score of the year.Race results - Estoril:
1. Bradl (Suter)
2. Baldolini (ICP) +0.068s
3. de Angelis (MotoBI) +2.830s
4. Redding (Suter) +2.842s
5. Sofuoglu (Suter) +2.947s
6. de Rosa (Tech 3) +3.311s
7. West (MZ) +3.385s
8. Talmacsi (Speed Up) +3.952s
9. Aegerter (Suter) +4.284s
10. Abraham (FTR) +4.311s