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Last weekend’s race winner Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) once again brought his A game to the table when it mattered as the British rider and Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) went head-to-head for Tissot Grand Prix of Doha pole position. Lowes 1:59.055 eventually saw him beat Gardner by 0.137s in Q2, Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) makes up the front row in P3.
There was early drama witnessed in Q1 as Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) missed out on a top four place. Reigning Moto3™ World Champion Albert Arenas (Solunion Aspar Team) slammed in a personal best lap on his final flyer that was good enough for P3 to demote his compatriot to P5, meaning Vierge is forced to start P19. Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) topped the first part of qualifying with a 1:59.592, Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), Arenas and Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) progressed into Q2.
Gardner was the early pacesetter but the times were down on Q1’s best efforts, but red sectors lit up the timing screens as a big reshuffling took place. Aron Canet (Solunion Aspar Team) now led the field from Bendsneyder but Bezzecchi then took control of the session with a 1:59.736. However, once again, the times would tumble.
Gardner retook P1 but Lowes then laid down a gauntlet to lead fellow Brit Dixon. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) soon split Lowes and Dixon to grab P2, but the Free Practice pacesetter was three tenths down on Lowes – and just 0.002s ahead of Dixon. Fighting back, Bezzecchi climbed to P2 to sit 0.272s from Lowes with just over two minutes left, before Gardner then sat second. A red second split then popped up for Gardner as Lowes backed out, so all eyes turned to the number 87.
A red split was also seen in Sector 3 for Gardner but could he pick up a good drive from the final corner? Not quite! The Aussie lost ground on the run to the line but improved his time to cut Lowes’ lead to 0.137s, but it didn’t matter – pole for the second week in a row was Lowes’. Job done for the Championship leader, with Gardner impressing again to pick up his first front row in Ajo colours. Bezzecchi completes a star-studded front row.
Fernandez ends his second Moto2™ qualifying session in P4, another fantastic job by the rookie who is joined on Row 2 by Q1 graduate Dixon. Yet again, a fine performance from the Petronas Sprinta Racing rider. A late charge from Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) seals a brilliant P6 for the Japanese rookie, the Moto3™ 2020 bronze medallist demoted Qatar third place finisher Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) off the second row, the Italian will start P7. Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) and Canet join Diggia on the third row, with Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) completing the top 10 in Q2.
Can Gardner, Bezzecchi or someone else stop Lowes from making it two out two at Losail? We’ll find out on Sunday at 18:20 local time (GMT+3)!
1. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) – 1:59.055
2. Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.137
3. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.272
4. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.386
5. Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.388
6. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 0.637
7. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 0.641
8. Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) + 0.672
9, Aron Canet (Solunion Aspar Team) + 0.730
10. Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 0.754