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Lowes continues supreme Losail form to claim Moto2™ pole

The Elf Marc VDS Racing Team rider will line-up ahead of rookie Raul Fernandez and Bo Bendsneyder for the opening race of 2021

Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was once again in superior form at the Barwa Grand Prix of Qatar as the British rider set a 1:58.726 to beat rookie Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to pole position by 0.140s. Bo Bendsneyder’s (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) awesome early season form sees the Dutchman claim just his third Grand Prix front row start in P3, he finished 0.233s from Lowes’ pace.

Ahead of the opening Moto2™ pole position battle commencing, four riders entered the fray from Q1. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was the quickest as rookie Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46), Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and 2019 Moto3™ World Champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) finished within a tenth of each other to get another crack at the whip in Q2.

As Q2 kick into life, the fastest rider after the opening flying laps were slammed in was Lowes. Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) made it a British 1-2 but working in tandem, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner then took over at the top – the latter leading his rookie teammate with a 1:59.245. Incidentally, Lowes’ first lap time was then scrapped but soon after, his second lap then saw him fly to P1, 0.447s faster than Gardner’s best. Sensational stuff from the number 22.

Once again, Dixon made it a British 1-2 but Lowes’ lead was still considerable. Bendsneyder then catapulted himself to P2 to go 0.312s off Lowes but the latter, for a third straight lap, pulled clear of the chasing pack. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) then took over the second place baton, but the Italian was still over three tenths behind. The Red Bull KTM Ajo duo then launched themselves onto the front row, Raul Fernandez P2 and Gardner P3, but the Aussie’s lap would get cancelled.

The ever-impressive Bendsneyder demoted Bezzecchi off the front row on his final lap as Gardner then threatened Lowes’ time on his last lap. However, a crash for Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) at Turn 10 – minutes after the Spaniard and teammate Dixon collided at Turn 3 – put a halt to Gardner’s late charge.

In the end though, Lowes was untouchable. The 2020 third place finisher has been in supreme form at Losail and will launch from pole, and he’ll line up alongside a rookie sensation in Raul Fernandez. The Spaniard has taken to Moto2™ like a duck to water as Bendsneyder picks up his first front row start since the 2017 Moto3™ Dutch GP, like as a Kalex rider springing new life into the talented Dutchman.

A star-studded second row will be lining up for the opening round of the season as Bezzecchi, Joe Roberts (American Racing) and Gardner claim P4, P5 and P6 in Q2 respectively. Dixon couldn’t improve on his couple of early banker laps and slipped down to P7, but that’s still a very classy performance from the man who was told he may never ride a motorcycle in anger again after his Valencia crash. Q1 graduate Di Giannantonio will be pleased with P8, Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) and rookie Vietti round out the top 10, excellent from the young Italian.

Marcos Ramirez (American Racing) and Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) both went to the medical centre for check-ups after both suffering big crashes in Q1. Unfortunately, both riders have been declared unfit. Corsi sustained a left wrist fracture and Ramirez suffered a right humeral tuberosity fracture, the duo will miss the Qatar GP. 

Can anyone beat Lowes at Losail? It’s looking like a tricky task, but Sunday is surely going to throw up some drama under the lights. Make sure you check the clock changes before tuning in for the Moto2™ race at 18:20 local time (GMT+3)!

Top 10:
1. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) 1:58.726
2. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.140
3. Bo Bendsnyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) + 0.233
4. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.326
5. Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) + 0.442
6. Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.471
7. Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.477*
8. Fabio DiGiannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 0.515
9. Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) + 0.694
10. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.713

*After the incident involving his teammate Vierge, Dixon was later handed a three-place grid penalty for riding slowly on the racing line. 

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