The two reign the first Friday of the season, with Roberts third and some seriously small gaps throughout the field
Two familiar names ended the opening Moto2™ Free Practice Friday at the top of the timesheets: Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46). Thanks to a 1:58.959, Lowes takes charge of proceedings at the Barwa Grand Prix of Qatar, his FP2 best beating 2020 title rival Bezzecchi to the honour by 0.104s. New Italtrans Racing Team recruit Joe Roberts claims P3 at the end of Day 1, the American 0.313s shy of Lowes’ time.
As the sun fell below the horizon and the floodlights lit up Losail International Circuit, every rider was immediately able to better their morning times. Lowes was lapping extremely consistently and with 20 minutes to go, 2020’s third place finisher was over half a second clear of his nearest rivals. Roberts, last year’s polesitter, did then cut the gap to 0.4s as we started to see some riders push for quick times, with plenty of eyes turning towards the top 14 places and automatic Q2 promotion.
Bezzecchi then slotted into P2 with just under 10 minutes to go, the difference down to little over a tenth, but the Italian remained the only rider to get near to Lowes’ effort. Plenty of chopping and changing occurred inside the top 10, but the fastest duo from FP1 would lead the way again – this time the opposite way around.
Roberts finished P14 in FP1 but strung together a good run at the end of the day to finish third, with Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) rounding out a very strong fastest five at the end of the first day of Moto2™ action in 2021.
After a P4 in the opening Free Practice session, Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) continued to impress on the Kalex chassis and finished Day 1 in P6, just under half a second from Lowes. Seventh fastest Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) rose up from P18 to safely cement a place in the top ten as Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) claimed quickest rookie honours on Day 1 once again in eighth. Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) finished P9 and P10, with the leading 10 competitors are split by 0.597s heading into qualifying day.
Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), his rookie teammate Tony Arbolino, veteran Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) and Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) completed the fastest 14 on Friday.
Ai Ogura and Idemitsu Honda Team Asia teammate Somkiat Chantra crashed in FP1 and FP2 respectively, both riders were unhurt.
Will the current top 14 stay as they are for qualifying? You’ll find out by tuning into Moto2™ FP3 at 14:20 local time (GMT+3), before qualifying from 18:25.
Moto2™ Friday top ten:
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