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13 days ago
By motogp.com

Fernandez fires his way to Moto2™ Friday top spot

The Red Bull KTM Ajo rookie was over half a second clear of Di Giannantonio in FP2, a real hammer down by the young Spaniard in Doha

Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) continues to take the Moto2™ class by storm as the rookie ended Friday at the Tissot Grand Prix of Doha over half a second clear of his rivals. A simply sensational 1:58.541 leaves the Spaniard 0.517s clear of second place Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), with Fernandez’s teammate Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the top three.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for the times to immediately be quicker than we saw in a very warm FP1 and leading the way in the early stages were two rookies: Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Fernandez. It didn’t last long though, FP1 pacesetter Di Giannantonio stuck a 1:59.058 lap time with Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) and Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) joining the Italian in the top three.

The session was then fairly quiet in terms of improvements on the timing tower, plenty of riders were figuring out race settings rather than searching for a quick lap time. The ever-impressive Fernandez then went two tenths quicker than Sam Lowes’ (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) pole time from last weekend with just under four minutes to go, a lap that put him over half a second clear of the pack. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) made it two rookies inside the top five as there were a few movers down the bottom end of the top 14, but no one was troubling Fernandez’ corker.

The young Spaniard remained over half a second clear of Di Giannantonio to head into qualifying day as the rider to beat – and by some distance. Diggia enjoyed a good day at the office to take P2 into Saturday’s proceedings, with Gardner beating fourth place Bezzecchi by 0.020s. Then, a further 0.005s covers the Italian from fifth place Roberts, with sixth place Ogura and eighth place Vietti sandwiching World Championship leader Lowes. Three rookies inside the top eight is fantastic stuff.

Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) – despite an early crash at Turn 6 – were able to comfortably grab places in the all-important top 14, the latter is over a second behind pacesetter Fernandez though. Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP40), Aron Canet (Solunion Aspar Team), Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and rookie Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) – who recovered from a small tumble in FP1 – secure what is most likely the automatic Q2 places, with FP3 conditions unlikely to provide the riders with the right tools to go quicker.

It means some big-name riders probably miss out on automatic Q2 places. Petronas Sprinta Racing pair Xavi Vierge and Jake Dixon are two of those, with Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up), Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) and his teammate Bo Bendsneyder also having tricky Friday evenings.

Make sure you tune into Moto2™ FP3 at 14:20 local time (GMT+3) on Saturday afternoon to see if any improvements are made ahead of qualifying.

Top 10:
1. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:58.541
2. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 0.517
3. Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.647
4. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.667
5. Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) + 0.672
6. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 0.702
7. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 0.724
8. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.774
9. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 0.821
10. Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 1.066

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