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Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) secured a memorable and historic pole position for himself, MV Agusta and Forward Racing in Moto2™ qualifying at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The Italian’s maiden Grand Prix pole was bagged thanks to a 1:34.418 – a new lap record – that saw Manzi edge out Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) by 0.013 seconds, European Grand Prix winner Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) completed the front row. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) starts P12, Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was seemingly feeling some ill effects from his Saturday morning crash to qualify 18th.
After a huge FP3 crash, Lowes was back on track sporting a bandaged right wrist after being declared fit. His opening lap time was nearly four seconds down on Bo Bendsneyder’s (NTS RW Racing GP) 1:35.131 lap time, but that wasn’t the case for long. Garzo then took turn to lead the session before Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) shot to the summit, Q1 graduate Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) was third with eight minutes to go.
Lowes was struggling in the early stages, the British rider was P18 and 2.8 seconds off the pole position time. On the other hand, a rider who wasn’t struggling was another MV Agusta Forward Racing bike: Stefano Manzi. The Italian was now top of the tree by 0.004 over Di Giannantonio, Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) climbed to P3 soon after as three manufacturers sat on the front row in Moto2™ - it’s not often we can say that.
Moto2™ title contender Lowes suffers horrible crash in FP3
The times were again incredibly close. Less than a tenth covered the top five and then Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) then went P5, just 0.095 off the pace. Red sectors were everywhere though and soon there was another name at the top of the charts: Garzo. A 1:34.431 was set by the Spaniard, as Bezzecchi clawed his way up to P2. Title-chasing Bastianini was P10 with two minutes to go and despite improving his time, the Italian remained tenth.
Lowes was now just 1.4 seconds off but because of how competitive the intermediate class is, the British rider remained P18. Lowes had one lap to try and salvage something from his difficult qualifying but elsewhere, Manzi – on his final lap – claimed provisional pole. Bezzecchi took the chequered flag in P3 while teammate Marini would do no better than P10, and Bastianini couldn’t do anything either.
And as the Moto2™ qualifying storm settled, Manzi stayed at the summit to claim his maiden Grand Prix pole position, and MV Agusta’s first pole position since MotoGP™ Legend Giacomo Agostini at Le Mans in 1976. A fantastic Saturday afternoon for Manzi, and the same can be said for Garzo who picks up his first Grand Prix front row start, just 0.013 seconds from P1. Bezzecchi will go in search of his second consecutive victory from P3, the Italian is by far the fastest title contender in qualifying – how crucial could that prove to be?
Di Giannantonio spearheads Row 2 in P4, he’s joined by Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin and flying rookie Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing). Schrötter eventually slipped to P7, Q1 graduate Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) is returning to form and the Italian will launch from P8, one place ahead of Bendsneyder. This is the Dutchman’s third top 10 qualifying result of the campaign.
Marini was under four tenths away from pole but ends up down in P10. However, importantly for the Italian, he’s ahead of the two riders ahead of him in the Championship. Bastianini will start P12 behind Corsi, three places better than last weekend but still far from ideal. Lowes struggled in Q2 and immediately had ice on his right wrist when he was back in the box, the British rider has a proper salvage job on his hands from P18.
Bastianini has the chance to win the title tomorrow. Watch how the Moto2™ title race unfolds at 12:20 local time (GMT+1) on Sunday afternoon as the penultimate race of 2020 gets underway!
1. Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) – 1:34.418
2. Hector Garzo (FlexBox HP40) + 0.013
3. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.076
4. Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) + 0.106
5. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.229
6. Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing) + 0.287
7. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 0.312
8. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP40) + 0.339
9. Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) + 0.351
10. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.380
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