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P1 and P2 in the Moto2™ World Championship are now also P1 and P2 after the completion of FP3 at the PETRONAS Grand Prix of Malaysia. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is out to reclaim the ascendancy in the title race after his spill in Australia but it was Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) who took the ascendancy on Saturday morning at Sepang with a 2:06.635 in FP3. Despite a second crash of the weekend, Fernandez occupies second on combined times thanks to his efforts in FP1, ahead of Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up), and Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team).
Arbolino, the sole remaining Elf Mars VDS Racing Team rider after the withdrawal of Sam Lowes, was the early pace-setter in FP3, getting down to a 2:06.816 during his first run. Fernandez remained on top at that point thanks to his 2:06.816 in FP1 and no one was able to match him in the third sector. However, Fernandez was having trouble in the fourth sector, at Turn 15 specifically, suffering a front-end crash there for the second day in a row. Given he lost the Championship lead with a front-end crash just six days ago at Phillip Island, the Spaniard may well be feeling nervous by now.
First to knock the previous Championship leader off his perch was the new Championship leader. Ogura still could not better Fernandez in the third sector but strung together a 2:06.635 in the final three minutes of FP3 to take over P1 for the weekend so far. Fernandez was fourth for the session on a 2:07.177 while Arbolino finished second for the session and third on combined times thanks to his earlier effort. Lopez was next-best on both metrics thanks to a late 2:07.086, after the Australian GP race winner had pulled off a particularly impressive save at Turn 15, midway through proceedings.
Dixon, Cameron Beaubier (American Racing), Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up), Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40), Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) round out the combined top 10. Also through to Q2 already are Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo), despite a late crash at Turn 4, as well as Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team), and Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team), while Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) is among those going into Q1 given he is 17th on combined times.
The fight for pole begins with Q1 later on Saturday at 13:30 (GMT +8) – tune in then!
Moto2™ Combined Top 10
1. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – 2:06.635
2. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.181
3. Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 0.404
4. Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up) + 0.451
5. Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) + 0.657
6. Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) + 0.704
7. Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up) + 0.744
8. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) + 0.798
9. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 0.806
10. Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 0.837
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