The rookie continues his sensational form as he tops Friday in Doha by over half a second.
Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) continues to take the Moto2™ class by storm as the rookie ended Friday at the TISSOT Grand Prix of Doha over half a second clear of his rivals, a sensational 1:58.541 seeing the Spaniard pull clear of second-placed Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2). Fernandez’s teammate and Qatar GP podium finisher Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completed the top three.
It didn’t take long for the times to immediately be quicker than a very warm FP1, and leading the way in the early stages were two rookies: Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Raul Fernandez. It didn’t last long though, as FP1 pacesetter Di Giannantonio stuck in a 1:59.058, with Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) and Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) joining the Italian in the top three.
The session was then fairly quiet in terms of improvements, with plenty of riders figuring out race settings rather than searching for a quick lap time. The ever-impressive Raul Fernandez then went two tenths quicker than Sam Lowes’ (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) pole time from last weekend with just under four minutes to go though, a lap that put him over half a second clear of the pack. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) made it two rookies inside the top five too as there were a few movers down the bottom end of the top 14, but no one was troubling Raul Fernandez at the top.
The young Spaniard remained over half a second clear of Di Giannantonio to head into qualifying day as the rider to beat and by some distance, with Qatar GP podium finisher Diggia enjoying a good day at the office to take P2. Gardner beat fourth place Bezzecchi by just 0.020s, and then it’s only 0.005s back to fifth place Roberts as the timesheets got incredibly tight. Two more rookies impressed next up, with sixth-placed Ogura and eighth-placed Vietti sandwiching World Championship leader Lowes as the Qatar GP winner ended the day in seventh.
Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) – despite an early crash at Turn 6 – were able to comfortably grab places in the all-important top 14 as they complete the top ten, with those provisionally on for a place in Q2 concluded by Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP 40), Aron Canet (Solunion Aspar Team), Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and rookie Cameron Beaubier (American Racing), who recovered from a small tumble in FP1.
That means some big name riders may miss out on an automatic place in Q2, with conditions likely to be more difficult for a time attack in FP3. Petronas Sprinta Racing pair Xavi Vierge and Jake Dixon are two of those, with Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up), Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) and his teammate Bo Bendsneyder also having tricky Friday evenings.
Can they turn it around on Saturday? Make sure to tune into Moto2™ FP3 at 14:20 local time (GMT+3) to see if any improvements are made, ahead of qualifying at 18:25.
Moto2™ Friday top ten:
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