MotoE: Di Meglio escapes a fierce battle for the podium to win in Austria
Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took an impressive victory in Round 2 of the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup, with the grid going racing in wet conditions for the first time ever and the Frenchman perfectly composed to come home for 25 points and the Championship lead. Xavier Simeon (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) took second after a big squabble to decide the podium, with Bradley Smith (One Energy Racing) crossing the line in third.
The race was reduced to five laps due to rain falling at the Red Bull Ring, with no practice time in the conditions meaning the grid were given two sighting laps and the race distance was reduced. After that extra lap to judge the conditions before lights out, the scene was set and Round 2 got underway.
As the grid thundered into Turn 1 it was Simeon who braved it out to take the holeshot from second on the grid, but the Belgian was forced to cede the lead soon after as Di Meglio retaliated into Turn 3. The fight for third just behind them was immediately heating up as well, with a gaggle of riders all blasting towards Turn 3 in tandem and Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) coming out on top.
That’s when the first bit of drama hit as previous points leader Niki Tuuli (Ajo MotoE) ran wide into Turn 4, the Finn managing to keep it upright in the gravel trap and rejoin but right at the back, facing an almighty uphill struggle to take points. Smith also had a moment into Turn 4, but the Brit only slipped down to ninth and stayed on.
Ninth was where Granado started, but he’d quickly shot through into the fight at the front and momentarily took second away from teammate Simeon, but a big moment for the Brazilian then saw the Belgian strike back. Granado, of course, repaid the favour once again, and this time the number 51 was able to keep it and start to home in on Di Meglio for the lead.
Once through and at the front, Granado seemed to have an edge in the tough conditions and set about starting to break away from the pack…but then disaster struck. On lap three and on the brakes into Turn 3, the Brazilian suddenly lost the front and slid out of contention, leaving Di Meglio back in the driving seat with a little breathing space included.
However, as comfortable as it looked initially, Tech 3 E-Racing’s Hector Garzo was on a charge. He’d managed to out-duel Simeon after going quite literally elbow to elbow in the fight for second, the Spaniard rolling around the outside into Turn 9, and with just two laps left, Garzo set his sights on Di Meglio a second ahead of him.
The Spaniard was gaining seemingly corner by corner and had cut the gap in half by the final lap, but that’s when disaster struck. After getting so close, Garzo suddenly crashed out at Turn 4as Di Meglio started to turn the screw again, leaving the Frenchman in clear air to take a composed win – his first in this paddock for just over ten years.
That put Simeon in second place for a first MotoE™ podium, whilst Smith had fought his way through to fourth after his early error, ultimately crossing the line third after the drama ahead of him. That keeps him only five points off the lead with his podium – the same gap he arrived with, just behind a different rider.
Alex De Angelis (Octo Pramac MotoE) took fourth, a tenth clear of compatriot Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE). A best ride of the season from Sete Gibernau (Join Contracts Pons 40) saw the former MotoGP™ star battle his way through from twelfth on the grid to sixth. Josh Hook (Octo Pramac MotoE) took seventh, ahead of Niccolo Canepa (LCR E-Team). Jesko Raffin (Dynavolt Intact GP) was given a penalty for passing under yellow flags and was demoted a place to ninth, ahead of Lorenzo Savadori (Trentino Gresini MotoE), who completed the top ten.
Round 1 winner Niki Tuuli managed to fight his way back to score a point, and every point is crucial in a six-race series. The FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup is next in action at the San Marino Grand Prix in Misano, with a double header sure to shake up the fight even further – and 50 points on the table.