The wait is over and Moto3™ are officially back in action at the QNB Grand Prix of Qatar, with Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) the man opening his 2020 account on top. The pace was pretty hot on Day 1 as the Spaniard ended Friday just 0.019 shy of Aron Canet’s lap record at Losail International Circuit, with Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) in second but a tenth back. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0), our most recent race winner until the grid have a chance to try and change the fact on Sunday, completed the top three after also having gone fastest in FP1.
Friday saw sun blaze throughout the day and a little less wind than had plagued the venue at times during the recent test, and it was largely a drama-free affair with most of the field improving their laptimes in a duskier FP2. The timesheets promise plenty from the race, however, with the speed already there on Day 1 as Fernandez homed in on that lap record – and only a tenth and a half separating the top three. In addition, the previous top speed in Moto3™ fell by the wayside as Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) upped it from 240.3km/h to 245.4.
Fourth went the way of Honda Team Asia’s Ai Ogura, who was second fastest in testing in Qatar, as he moved up the timesheets on his final attempt and got ahead of compatriot Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – last year’s race winner. He was the last man in the 2:04s, with Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) putting in a 2’05.227 for sixth.
Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) was seventh and improved a whopping 1.7 seconds from his FP1 time, with Masia in P8 and over a second quicker in FP2 than his previous best. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) was only 0.016 back from the Spaniard as he leapt up the timesheets and put his Husqvarna in ninth on the manufacturer’s return to the class, with Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) completing the top ten – a familiar sight so far – as fastest rookie. The Turkish rider was only 0.007 off Fenati, too.
John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was close too as the Scot took P11, with Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) slotting into 12th. Rookies Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) and Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Racing) provisionally claimed the final Q2 spots in 13th and 14th place, but anything can change again in FP3…
Migno and Albert Arenas (Aspar Team) were both crashers in FP1, but nobody slipped off during the second session of the day for the lightweight class. Now all focus switches to Saturday’s FP3 session and the fight to earn a place directly in Q2, which in Moto3™ is reserved for the fastest 14. via the top 14. Tune in as that begins at 12:55 (GMT+3) local time before qualifying starts at 17:05.
1 – Raul Fernandez – (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – KTM – 2’04.577
2 – Darryn Binder – (CIP Green Power) – KTM – +0.121
3 – Sergio Garcia – (Estrella Galicia 0,0) – Honda – +0.146
4 – Ai Ogura – (Honda Team Asia) – Honda – +0.345
5 – Kaito Toba – (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – KTM – +0.411