Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin continued his fine form on Day 1 at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, ending the opening day of Moto2™ action fastest for the second time in a row and that following two podiums in a row. The 2018 Moto3™ World Champion was two tenths clear of FP1’s fastest man Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), with World Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in third and the quickest of the four remaining contenders.
The day was a dry one for Moto2™ and Martin was the only man to get into the 2:06s, which he did in the afternoon – with FP1 pacesetter Nagashima showing top pace in both sessions and second fastest in FP2. Marquez also improved in the afternoon despite a couple of wobbles, putting himself nearly a tenth clear of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to lead a gaggle of contenders all stacked up in the top six.
Binder didn’t improve in the afternoon but the South African was only hundredths off doing so, with his quickest effort from FP2 still fast enough to have headed off the charge of Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) if needed. Navarro completed the top five overall and was just 0.051 ahead of fellow contender Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP); the Swiss rider the last in the queue of contenders on Friday by a tiny margin as everything tightened up in mid-top ten.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) was the fastest rookie in P7 and back nearer the front afetr a tougher Phillip Island, that making for a good springboard as he aims to wrap up the title of Rookie of the Year this season. Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was eighth quickest, ahead of Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) and Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40).
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) beat Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) to 11th by a single thousandth, with Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) in P13 on Friday. Last year’s winner Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), meanwhile, was down in 14th and the last of the provisional entrants to Q1, the Italian crashing on Day 1 – rider ok.
The intermediate class are back on track on Saturday morning 09:55 local time (GMT+8), with one of the most pivotal qualifying sessions of the season getting underway at 13:30. Can Martin keep the top spot on Saturday? Which of the title contenders will start furthest forward? Tune in to fout how the grid will look for a pivotal Moto2™ race at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix.
1 – Jorge Martin (SPA – KTM) 2’05.968
2 – Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN – Kalex) +0.229
3 – Alex Marquez (SPA – Kalex) +0.360
4 – Brad Binder (RSA – KTM) +0.442
5 – Jorge Navarro (SPA – Speed Up) +0.535
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