Remy Gardner ran a patient race behind Raul Fernandez to allow his harder option tyre to come into play and power away and win the Moto2 Algarve Grand Prix, round 17 of an 18 race season.
That tyre choice by the Australian and intelligent riding saw the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider increase his title lead after being able to pounce and take over at the front, starting his move by attacking at the start of lap thirteen of the race through turn one before blocking any chance of a reply.
With the tables turned in the race, the number 87 went on to pull out a lead which he managed over the line to win by over three seconds. It is Gardner's fifth victory of the season, achieved after topping warm-up despite pain in his ribs following a fall earlier in the weekend.
On the softer option at the advice of the team, Fernandez, who started from pole, pushed his team-mate to the limit. A seventh team 1-2 ensuring that the championship goes all the way to the final race of the season in Valencia, with Gardner taking a 23 point lead to Spain.
Sam Lowes also gambled on the harder option tyre, which brought him through the field to third to pick up his fifth podium of the season. The Elf Marc VDS rider had Fernandez in his sights but needed about another lap distance to be able to have sent the title Gardner’s way in Portugal.
Aron Canet got a rapid start off the line for Aspar and remained in the mix behind the Ajo duo for the podium, following in Lowes’s footsteps by taking Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) in the closing stages for fourth place. The Spaniard was also the highest placing Boscoscuro rider.
Though shuffled back, fifth still equals the American’s best result of the season, achieving the same placing on home soil in the Americas race.
Celestino Vietti managed his tyres better than his Sky Racing VR46 team-mate Marco Bezzecchi to claim sixth, with Termozeta Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro also passing the Italian for seventh. Bezzecchi, who had been in contention for a podium for much of the race had to settle for eighth.
Augusto Fernandez was ninth on the second Marc VDS entry, just holding off Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) who completed the top ten.
Federal Oil Gresini's Fabio Di Giannantonio took eleventh. Hector Garzo lead the Flexbox HP40 pair over the line in twelfth, with Stefano Manzi thirteenth.
Marcos Ramirez (American Racing) in 14th and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) in 15th collected the remaining points on offer.
Tetsuta Nagashima, in for Lorenzo Dalla Porta at Iltaltrans, had a long lap penalty to comply with, which contributed to his 21st place finish.
Somkiat Chantra exited the race on the first lap. Albert Arenas was next to fall with his crash at turn fifteen seeing him needing a trip to the medical centre after being sent barrel-rolling from his sparking bike.
Jake Dixon slipped away at turn one, a lap before his Petronas Sprinta team-mate Xavi Vierge had a near identical off at the same corner one lap later.
Lorenzo Baldassarri also failed to finish.