Lowes Lays Down The Marker For Pole In AustriaThe Brit hits back to head the grid, ahead Raul Fernandez and another front row stunner from Ogura

Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) reigned the Red Bull Ring on Saturday, the Brit taking pole for the Bitci Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich by just 0.068 from Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo). On the front row last weekend and setting the fastest lap in the race, Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) takes third to start from the front once again.

The fight to head through was headed by an incredibly close duel, with Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP 40) coming out on top by just 0.018 ahead of Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Jake Dixon. It wasn’t much more breathing space back to third either as Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) took the third spot 0.055 further back, with teammate Nicolo Bulega the last man to move through… with just 0.010 in hand, such were the margins.

World Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was fastest out of the blocks in Q2 and set consecutive fastest times, before Aron Canet (Aspar Team Moto2) went P1 with a 1:29.015. The Spaniard’s time at the top didn’t last long though as Ogura and then Lowes, and then Ogura again, took over on provisional pole.

Suddenly, Styrian GP winner Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) then crashed at Turn 9, bringing out the yellow flags while on a personal best. Meanwhile Gardner was 12th with teammate Raul Fernandez 14th, needing to find six tenths to bridge the gap to Ogura in the hotter afternoon conditions. And Gardner did respond, the Australian climbing to provisional P3 before Augusto Fernandez pipped him to it.

On his next lap, Augusto Fernandez then went one better into second, before his teammate Lowes snatched P1. And opposite drama then came for each Red Bull KTM Ajo rider: Gardner crashed for the first time this season – including testing – as Raul Fernandez shot up into second. Just ahead, Lowes held onto a 15th Moto2™ pole position, less than a tenth clear of Raul Fernandez, with Ogura securing third.

The Grid
Behind Lowes, Raul Fernandez and Ogura, Styrian GP podium finisher Augusto Fernandez heads up the second row. He’s joined there by Gardner in fifth and Canet in sixth, the latter another on the rostrum last weekend.

Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) picked up a fantastic P7 with more good speed at the Red Bull Ring, and that was also true of Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) as the Italian makes it three rookies inside the top eight. 2019 Moto3™ World Champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) is ninth, with Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) locking out the top ten.

So where’s Bezzecchi? It was a tough day for the Italian as his crash sees the man third in the Championship – and last week’s race winner – having to start from P16. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), Marcos Ramirez (American Racing), Dixon, Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up) and Di Giannantonio stand between the number 72 and the top ten.

Can Bezzecchi move through? Gardner get back on the box? And Lowes to winning ways? Or will Ogura come out swinging? Find out at 12:20 (GMT +2)!

Moto2™ front row:
1 Sam Lowes – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – Kalex – 1:28.659
2 Raul Fernandez – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – +0.068
3 Ai Ogura – Idemitsu Honda Team Asia – Kalex – +0.143

Sam Lowes: “I like the track, I just don’t seem to go so good here! I’m really happy this weekend, we’ve made some decent changes to the bike. Thanks to the team for making the big effort, and we managed to improve the pace a lot. In qualifying I expected the times to maybe not be that fast because of the hot temperature, but with the soft tyre on the first run I didn’t make a bad laptime but I felt like I was pushing the front a bit, so we came in and changed to the hard, and for me it was a bit easier to ride and we did the laptime. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, we’ll try and have a good race!”

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Lowes Lays Down The Marker For Pole In Austria
Moto2™ front row L-R: Fernandez, Lowes and Ogura

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