Two familiar names have ended the opening Moto2™ Free Practice Friday at the top of the timesheets. Thanks to a 1:58.959, Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) takes charge of proceedings at the Barwa Grand Prix of Qatar, his FP2 best was enough to beat 2020 title rival Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) 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 the 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 now down to little over a tenth, but the Italian – and no one else – would get nearer to Lowes’ effort. Plenty of chopping and changing occurred inside the top 10, but the fastest duo from FP1 would lead the way again. Only this time, Lowes was the quicker of the two.
Roberts finished P14 in FP1 but strung together a good run at the end of the day to finish inside the top three, Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) rounded out a very strong looking 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 top 10 place, as Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) claims quickest rookie honours on Day 1. Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) finished P9 and P10 as the leading 10 competitors are split by 0.597s heading into qualifying day.
Ai Ogura and Idemitsu Honda Team Asia teammate Somkiat Chantra crashed in FP1 and FP2 respectively, both riders were unhurt.
So, Lowes leads Bezzecchi on Day 1 of 2021. Two of the favourites have hit the ground running but there’s plenty more action to take place throughout the weekend, starting with FP3 on Saturday at 14:20 local time (GMT+3). Will the current top 14 stay as they are for qualifying? You’ll find out by tuning into Moto2™ FP3!
Top 10 combined Day 1:
1. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) 1:58.959
2. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.104
3. Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) + 0.313
4. Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.337
5. Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.361
6. Bo Bendsnyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) + 0.463
7. Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 0.484
8. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.522
9. Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.587
10. Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) + 0.597