Algarve Moto2: Gardner beats Fernandez to close in on title

Remy Gardner closed in on the Moto2 world title after seeing off championship rival Raul Fernandez to win the Algarve Grand Prix.

The Australian dropped as low as third in the early stages of the race before making the most of his hard tyre pace advantage to pick off Marco Bezzecchi and Fernandez to claim the lead with 10 of the 23 laps contest remaining.

Gardner, the son of 1987 500cc motorcycle world champion Wayne, was unable to shake off his soft tyre shod teammate until the closing laps to claim a comfortable fifth win of the season.

Fernandez came home in second some 3.014s adrift, while Britain's Sam Lowes secured the final spot on the podium after significantly closing the gap to Fernandez in the final laps.

The victory extends Gardner's championship lead to 23 points over Fernandez heading into next weekend's title decider in Valencia.

Fernandez made no mistakes from pole and converted his grid slot into a lead as the field streamed into Turn 1 followed by rival Gardner.

Fabio di Giannantonio was the big loser from the start dropping from third to eighth on the opening lap, while Marco Bezzecchi stormed from seventh to third.

The opening lap was not without drama as Somkiat Chantra crashed out at Turn 4.

Leader Fernandez quickly found a strong rhythm to move six tenths clear of the chasing Gardner, who came under pressure from Bezzecchi. The Italian would take the second spot from the Australian on lap 3.

Behind, American Cameron Beaubier managed to pass Aron Canet for fourth but his time in the position was short-lived as he began to drop down the order.

Gardner, on the hard tyre, slowly began to haul Bezzecchi in over the following laps before eventually re-taking second on lap 9.

Lowes took over fourth followed by Canet, with di Giannantonio locked in a battle with Beaubier in the battle for sixth.

At the front, the soft tyre shod Fernandez soon saw his advantage evaporate as Gardner charged back up to the leader. The Aussie followed his teammate before diving underneath the Spaniard at Turn 1 at the halfway point.

Fernandez was unable to respond but was able to keep within half a second of his title rival despite a tyre grip disadvantage.

While the top two were locked in a battle for the win, third-placed Bezzecchi dropped into the clutches of Lowes and it didn't take long for the Brit to surge into the final podium spot.

Bezzecchi, now a sitting duck with his rubber, fell behind Beuabier and Canet falling to sixth with five laps remaining.

As the race moved into the final laps, Fernandez fell away from Gardner and had to keep an eye on the charging Lowes behind, but held onto second at the chequered flag.

Canet managed to snatch fourth from Beaubier after a great scrap, while Calestino Vietti was sixth. Bezzecchi dropped to eighth behind Jorge Navarro.

After starting third, di Giannantonio struggled and eventually finished in 11th position.

The race was not without incident as Albert Arenas, Ai Ogura, Jake Dixon and Xavi Vierge all suffered high-speed crashes.

The Moto2 season will conclude at Spain's Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia on 14 November.

Cla Rider Bike Gap
1 Australia Remy Gardner
2 Spain Raúl Fernández
Kalex 3.014
3 United Kingdom Sam Lowes
Kalex 3.899
4 Spain Arón Canet
Boscoscuro B-21 7.616
5 United States Cameron Beaubier
Kalex 7.621
6 Italy Celestino Vietti Ramus
Kalex 10.021
7 Spain Jorge Navarro
Boscoscuro B-21 10.908
8 Italy Marco Bezzecchi
Kalex 11.586
9 Spain Augusto Fernandez
Kalex 13.121
10 Germany Marcel Schrotter
Kalex 13.286
11 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio
Kalex 14.614
12 Spain Hector Garzo
Kalex 25.538
13 Italy Stefano Manzi
Kalex 26.511
14 Spain Marcos Ramirez
Kalex 27.225
15 Netherlands Bo Bendsneyder
Kalex 28.345
16 Fermín Aldeguer
Boscoscuro B-21 28.412
17 Italy Simone Corsi
MV Agusta 32.282
18 Malaysia Hafizh Syahrin
NTS 35.387
19 Switzerland Thomas Luthi
Kalex 39.184
20 Japan Tetsuta Nagashima
Kalex 43.432
21 Italy Nicolo Bulega
Kalex 43.491
22 Italy Tony Arbolino
Kalex 43.803
23 Belgium Barry Baltus
NTS 45.847
24 United States Joe Roberts
Kalex 54.350
25 Piotr Biesiekirski
Kalex 1'08.619
Italy Lorenzo Baldassarri
MV Agusta
Spain Xavi Vierge
United Kingdom Jake Dixon
Japan Ai Ogura
Spain Albert Arenas
Boscoscuro B-21
Thailand Somkiat Chantra
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