Championship leader extends the gap as Cluzel follows in second place.
Andrea Locatelli started the race from pole position ahead of Kawasaki riders Philipp Oettl and Lucas Mahias, while Odendaal, Gonzalez and Hendra-Pratama faced placement penalties. Title rival Jules Cluzel started from 4th on the grid. Rookie Can Oncü began in 10th position, hopeful to beat his best result so far of 10th place.
The start of the race proved most eye-catching in the 600 class, as Locatelli lost the lead within turn 1 to front-runners Mahias and Oettl. With Loka facing off between the Kawasakis from the get-go, Cluzel was able to make his way to the front group with ease, beginning what would look to be an important fight between title rivals. Although, as exciting as the Oettl-Mahias fight was, it was only a matter of time before the inevitable Locatelli-lead would make its appearance. However, the Italian would have to take the position from Cluzel first; as the pair broke away at the front, it was Cluzel’s to lose with a 1 second gap already formed. Despite the gap, however, it proved to not be enough when it came to slipstreams, as Locatelli was able to overtake with ease. On the same sector, heading into turn 1, Isaac Viñales spoiled his P5 efforts in an incident which lead to both him and Mahias to run wide, resulting in Viñales falling back numerous positions – whereas Mahias was able to recover.
With the opening laps over and the race well away, it proved once again to be Locatelli’s race to lose. The gap back to Cluzel continued to increase, and with Oettl riding comfortably in third place, the most prominent action of the race was the battle between Danny Webb, Manuel Gonzalez, Isaac Viñales and Steven Odendaal – who each were battling for P6. The quartet fought together throughout the race, with Perolari rounding out the top 10.
The final lap split the group into an Odendaal-Viñales, Webb-Gonzalez fight, as the Brit looked to take his best result of the season no matter his result in the group. While Viñales looked set to take sixth position, defending each of Odendaal’s advances, the South African managed to pip Viñales to the finish line on the final straight. Making the sixth-place result equivolent to Odendaal’s current championship position also.
Locatelli continues his championship surge with 150 points, 40 points ahead of Cluzel, while podium-place Philipp Oettl now sits in 4th place in the title fight.
Race 2 begins at 12:30pm Local Time tomorrow.
Feature Image: Václav Duška Jr.