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Moto2™ riders were on lap record pace from the word go, Lowes taking his second pole of 2016 ahead of Folger and Cortese.
Qualifying started with fiery intensity for the intermediate class, the likes of Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) immediately under the pole record. Folger set the first benchmark with a 1’42.589, already 0.06s faster Takaaki Nakagami’s (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) record lap from Free Practice 1. A number of riders soon went under the German’s time, Folger eventually dropping to a 1’42.436 after an incredible first ten minutes.
It was clear that at 30.6°C the Circuito de Jerez was in its best condition of the weekend. The fast times and ideal conditions lured several riders into a false sense of security, Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) falling at Turn 13 early in the session with fellow Speed Up rider Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) following suit soon after at Turn 3. Both riders were unharmed and returned to the pits for repairs.
Everything seemed calm until late in the session when Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) unleashed himself upon the Jerez circuit, setting two pole position stealing laps in a row. His wild style was not only thrilling to watch, but also produced a best time of 1’42.408 and subsequently set yet another new record lap. A number of riders down the order were putting in personal best laps but none were able to hold a candle to the British rider. For the fifth time in his career, and the second time in 2016, Lowes will start from pole position, his fourth straight front row start of the season. With none of his title rivals starting on the front row, Lowes has the potential to open up a healthy lead on Sunday.
Also under Nakagami’s old lap record, early session leader Jonas Folger was unable to improve his early time and ended 0.028s behind Lowes. Folger has always gone exceedingly well in Jerez, having won the 2015 Spanish GP and taken three additional podiums. For the third time in 2016, Folger will line up on the front row of the grid as he looks to replicate his Argentina GP podium.
Folger’s teammate, Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) finished the session in third, 0.003s back on his fellow German and will start on the front row of a Moto2™ World Championship race for the first time since 2014. Since Folger has joined him at the Dynavolt Intact GP team, Cortese has been overshadowed and Sunday presents him with the perfect chance to prove he’s still in contention.
The top four were nail bitingly close, Franco Morbidelli missing out on third by 0.041s and missing pole position by 0.072s. Any of the front four could easily win the race and after three disappointing rounds, Morbidelli is ready to turn his season around. Somewhat surprisingly, this is Morbidelli’s best Qualifying result of 2016, the Italian strong during the start of the races.
Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) will line up in fifth and as Lowes’ highest placed title rival. Since winning in Qatar, Luthi has failed to finish inside the top five.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) achieved his best grid position of the year with sixth, capping off the second row. The Italian’s 1’42.571 put him ahead of Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) who is yet to turn his troublesome weekend around. Seventh place is decent result, but not what one would expect from a rider as highly praised as Rins. He has spent the weekend working on his race pace, so should be strong come Sunday if he can stay with his great rival Lowes.
Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Luis Salom (SAG Team) completed the top ten. It was a disaster of a day for Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) as the French rider hardly featured and qualified down in 16th position.
Warm Up for the intermediate class commences at 09:10 Local Time before their race starts at 12:20 Local Time on Sunday.
Times, positions and gaps from the session can be viewed here.
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