Gardner edges out Marini for second pole of 2020

The Australian claims the final Moto2™ Saturday honours of the season; three title contenders in top five

For the second time this season Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) will start from pole position, thanks to a 1:42.592 in Moto2™ Q2 at the Grande Premio MEO de Portugal. The Australian was 0.118 seconds faster than title-chasing Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) as Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) secured P3. Championship leader Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will launch from P4 and P5 respectively, Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) finished P12.

Right at the start of Q2, a horrendously scary incident occurred at the exit of Turn 8. Aron Canet (Pull&Bear Aspar Team Moto2) crashed and slid down the hill and out of sight of the oncoming riders. Thankfully, no one collected Canet or his stricken Speed Up machine and it was disaster avoided, but it was a terrifying watch. Q1 graduate Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) sat top of the tree in the opening stages before Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) then took over.

Marini then rose to the summit as Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) went within a tenth of the Italian before injured Lowes produced a wonderful 1:42.759 to go provisional pole. Fernandez made it an EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1-2 with seven minutes to go, Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) then shoved Marini off the front row. However, the man third in the title race was on a flyer. Three red splits came before an orange fourth sector for Marini as the VR46 protégé went P2, but on his next lap, Marini changed the number next to his name to a one.

The new time to beat was a 1:42.710 as Marini went provisional pole with just over two minutes to go. Bulega was now P3 after shadowing Marini and as things stood, Bastianini was P16. Lowes pulled into pitlane sitting P3, his afternoon’s work was seemingly done. Gardner then suddenly shot to pole but there was an absolute stunner coming in from Di Giannantonio. The Italian was three tenths under but lost a lot of time in the last sector to stay P3 as Bastianini went P8 – but it wasn’t his last lap.

The Championship leader was right on the money. 0.004 off in Sector 3 and it wasn’t a front row, but a P4 was absolutely job done from The Beast. When the pressure was on, Bastianini delivered the biggest qualifying lap of his career so far to go P4, crucially ahead of injured Lowes.

But no one had an answer to Gardner’s late time. The Australian bags his second pole of the season and his fourth front row of 2020 to beat Marini, the Italian returns to the front row for the first time since his Catalan GP pole. Di Giannantonio will line-up on the front row ahead of the top two in the title race: Bastianini and Lowes. Three of the top four will battle it out on Sunday from the front, the stage is set for an absolute thriller. The big question now will be Lowes’ injury.

Martin comes through Q1 to pocket a second row start in P6, the Valencia GP winner edges Bulega by 0.047 seconds. The latter will spearhead the third row and is joined by Fernandez and Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing), with Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the top 10. Garzo was 11th ahead of the final title contender: Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46). The Italian came through Q1 and will start from P12 in an outside bid to claim the World Championship on Sunday afternoon.

Four riders, 23 points, one race. Strong favourite Bastianini starts from P4 but second in the Championship Lowes and third in the race Marini are right with him. Who wins? No one knows. All we do know is Portimao is going to host an absolute cracker of a Moto2™ race and at the end of it, we’ll witness a Champion being crowned.

Tune in for the intermediate class curtain closer at 12:20 local time (GMT+0), one hour later than usual in CET!

Top 10:
1. Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) – 1:42.592
2. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.118
3. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) + 0.129
4. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) + 0.130
5. Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 0.167
6. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.206
7. Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 0.253
8. Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 0.279
9. Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing) + 0.313
10. Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.401


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