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17 days ago
By motogp.com

Roberts in control on Friday in Moto2™

The American was fastest of all on the opening day of intermediate class action at Assen

Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) has set the pace in Moto2™ FP2 at the Motul TT Assen. In an impressive display by the American, he put one over last weekend’s dominant race winner, Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by setting a 1:37.393 in a dry afternoon session for the intermediate class at the TT Circuit Assen. Still, Fernandez is not far away from the best pace, despite a mid-session crash, while both Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) and Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) are lurking near the top of the timesheet also.

Roberts is the most rapid

FP1 was a fully wet session but the rain had stopped in time for Moto2™ FP2 and riders were instantly slashing seconds off the fastest lap times. The opening runs turned into a duel between the two aforementioned Spaniards, with Fernandez getting down to a 1:37.840 but Arenas usurped him by almost three tenths of a second in the 18th minute, just before the halfway mark. Around the same time, Fernandez crashed at De Strubben (Turn 5), but it would prove to be a minor mishap.

It took until the final two minutes for the fastest lap to be reset again, and it was Fernandez snatching back top spot when he clocked a 1:37.534. However, Roberts had already threatened to take over the ascendancy by then, and he would do just that when he punched out a 1:37.393 just prior to the chequered flag. Fernandez then made more speed, but remained second-quickest as he completed his session with a 1:37.529. Arenas found no improvement during his second run, but his earlier 1:37.569 was good enough for third.

Ogura closed to just eight points away from the World Championship lead last time out and is being talked of as a potential LCR Honda MotoGP™ rider in the very near future. As he seeks to overhaul Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) in the Moto2™ title race, he took fourth in FP2 at Assen with a 1:37.710. Fifth and sixth went to MB Conveyors Speed Up team-mates Fermin Aldeguer and Alonso Lopez respectively on a 1:37.840 and 1:37.942.

Canet continues to struggle with a broken nose

Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40), who was quickest in FP1, claimed seventh in FP2 but he was still one of the big stories of the afternoon. The Spaniard was recently involved in a road car crash and his broken nose started to bleed badly again, leading to not only more tissues, but even a mid-session visit by Dr Angel Charte to the Pons Racing box. While Canet is set for more running repairs at hospital tonight, he was sent back out to ensure he secured a place in the top 14, which the 22-year-old did with a late 1:37.960s.

World Championship leader Vietti finished eighth on a 1:37.964, with the top 10 rounded out by Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40) and Filip Salac (Gresini Racing Moto2™) at 0.585 seconds off the pace, while Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) took 13th. Among the notables outside the top 14 cut-off for Q2 as it stands are German Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), in 17th, and two Britons, namely Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team). Both Lowes and Dixon crashed during the session in separate incidents as they ended up 18th and 20th respectively. Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team) also hit the deck and Sean Dylan Kelly (American Racing) had a wild spill at the Geert Timmer Chicane, the scene of Dixon's mishap, but all of those riders were okay.

With dry conditions forecast for FP3, there is still plenty left to play for before qualifying! Tune in for the final Free Practice session on Saturday at 10:55 (GMT +2)!

Moto2™ Top 10 on Friday:
1. Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) – 1:37.393
2. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.136
3. Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) + 0.176
4. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 0.317
5. Fermín Aldeguer (MB Conveyors Speed Up) + 0.447
6. Alonso Lopez (MB Conveyors Speed Up) + 0.549
7. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) + 0.567
8. Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 0.571
9. Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40) + 0.580
10. Filip Salac (Gresini Racing Moto2) + 0.585

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