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Jonas Folger flew in Free Practice 2 but it was Takaaki Nakagami who led the intermediate class on combined times.
The second Moto2™ World Championship session of the Gran Premio Red Bull de España began with a number of small slides and big wobbles. Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) started Free Practice 2 with an incredible save, the side of his bike touching the track before the Swiss rider pushed the bike up on his elbow. A number of other wobbles and saves followed soon after but none were quite as impressive as Luthi’s.
Luthi also impressed with his early pace as the Swiss rider dropped into the low 1’43s almost straight away. All the Moto2™ riders were pushing hard in order to close in on Takaaki Nakagami’s (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) record breaking 1’42.642 from Free Practice 1.
With an incredibly loose and wild lap, Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) roared around the Jerez circuit to set 1’42.667 and demonstrate the track was still capable of producing quick times. The German tried to improve his time later in the session but suffered a fall at Turn 6 on his final lap. No other rider was able to go faster than the German in the second session, allowing him to slot into second overall and 0.025s behind Nakagami and just off a new record.
Nakagami remained as the fastest rider of the opening day thanks to his morning time. For several rounds it has appeared that the Japanese rider is on the cusp of something great, a podium return or perhaps his first win in the Moto2™ class. But at each round he has been unable to combine all the elements come race day and has so far had a best finish of ninth in 2016. Twice Nakagami has finished inside the top five in Jerez so certainly has the initial pace and historical record to do well.
Third overall was Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) thanks to his time in Free Practice 1. Baldassarri joined Nakagami and Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) in being the only three riders inside the top ten to not improve their times in FP2. This is no fluke for the Italian, hard work during multiple private tests at the Jerez circuit paying off on race weekend. All of the top three were under 0.2s from each other. Practice times are already reaching near breakneck speed, being able to keep the pace over race distance will be a deciding factor on Sunday. This is often what separates championship challengers from podium challengers, the championship contenders able to stay fast throughout the race.
On lap 18 of the second session, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) improved to a 1’43.126 to end the day in fourth place. The Championship leader was able to get within half a second of Nakagami’s time and, like Baldassarri, is benefiting from a number of private tests at the Spanish circuit.
Luthi’s 1’43.132 would eventually see him conclude the day in fifth position.
Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team), Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport), Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten), Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) and Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) filled out the remaining positions of the top ten. Inside the top ten there were seven different nationalities.
Once more Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) struggled to match the pace of the leading riders and ended Friday way down the field in 13th. With all of the top 16 inside a second of the best time, starting high on the grid will be important for Sunday’s race, Rins needing to up his pace overnight or risk getting trapped outside the top five.
Aside from Folger there were a number of falls including Simone Corsi at Turn 6, Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) at Turn 10 and Xavi Vierge (Tech 3) at Turn 2. Both Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) and Dominique Aegerter joined Vierge is falling at Turn 2 but fortunately all riders were unhurt and able to return to their teams straight away.
Free Practice 3 for the intermediate class will begin at 10:55 Local Time on Saturday before Qualifying at 15:05 Local Time.
Times and results from Free Practice 2 are displayed here.
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