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The Gran Premio d’Italia TIM will see Britain’s Sam Lowes start from pole position in Moto2™ on his Italian built Speed Up bike.
Before the weekend the Mugello track record for Moto2™ stood at 1’52.369 from Pol Espargaro in 2012, this record would not last long however. Already in FP3 Tito Rabat dropped into the 1’51s to set a new best lap around Mugello. All of the top four riders on the grid would set laps in the 1’51s come Qualifying.
Qualifying got off to a difficult start for Britain’s Sam Lowes as he suffered a crash with half an hour left in the session. Luckily, neither he nor the bike sustained any major damage, and after brief repairs by his Speed Up Racing team Lowes was back on track. The Austin race winner then set a stunning 1’51.514, a new pole position record and the fastest ever Moto2™ lap around the Mugello circuit. Mugello is also where Lowes took his first Moto2™ front row in 2014. “I understand why I crashed, so it’s not a big issue. We had a small problem at the end but it shouldn’t affect us tomorrow. We’ve worked so hard on race pace and I’ve spent a lot of time with the same rear tyre,” said pole setter Lowes.
It was a welcome return to the front row for Dominique Aegerter who has struggled to score points in the opening five rounds. The Swiss rider was a front-runner on the Suter frame last year, but has swapped over to the Kalex chassis and limited dry testing has made the transition difficult for him and the team. A breakthrough in rear grip gave Aegerter a large confidence boost and a helpful slipstream from teammate Luthi has Aegerter starting from the front row for the first time since Indianapolis last year. “My team found a good setting and we had a lot of rear grip. The teamwork with Luthi for the slipstream was also very helpful. We don’t know how the setting will be over race distance,” said the Swiss rider.
Luthi himself was able to manage fourth on the grid. A private test prior to Le Mans has drastically improved Luthi’s understanding of the Kalex package. Throughout the weekend Luthi has shown a steady pace and will no doubt be a rider in contention for the podium, if not the win come race day. 2012 saw Luthi finish third in the Moto2™ race at Mugello, having also had podiums here in the 250cc and 125cc class.
Completing the front row is Tito Rabat who continues to improve his season after a somewhat difficult start. Rabat was 0.360s off pole, but has been able to lap in the mid to low 1.57s throughout the weekend as he and the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team once again focus primarily on race pace. Traffic during the session hindered several of Rabat’s laps, but the front row puts him in a strong position to battle for the win on Sunday. Rabat’s last win came at Misano last year. “I had to push so hard. In the middle of the session there was a lot of traffic, but it’s good practice for the race. We have to improve the front setting a bit but overall I’m happy with the lap and the bike,” commented Rabat.
Championship leader Johann Zarco had a fairly quiet Qualifying session, never posing a real threat to the front row. The Frenchman will start from sixth on the grid for the Italian GP; he heads into the race with a 21-point lead over Thomas Luthi.
Aside from Lowes there were crashes for Axel Pons, Robin Mulhauser and Sandro Cortese. All riders were unhurt. Interestingly, Lowes’ 1’51.514 is just 0.123s slower than Marco Melandri’s Qualifying time in the MotoGP™ class.
Check out the full Moto2™ Qualifying results, the 21-lap race is due to start at 12:20am local time in Mugello on Sunday.
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@marcmarquez93 speaking to the media about his lack of rear grip in Q1 leaving him 13th on the grid for tomorrow.