Class rookie Canet delivers maiden Moto2™ pole

Openbank Aspar Team rider over a tenth clear of Martin in the Styrian GP intermediate class qualifying session

Rookie sensation Aron Canet (Openbank Aspar Team) has claimed his maiden Moto2™ pole position thanks to a 1:28.787 in Q2 at the BMW M Grand Prix of Styria. The Spaniard heads Austrian GP winner and compatriot Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by 0.118 on Saturday, with Tetsuta Nagashima making it two Red Bull KTM Ajo painted machines on the front row.

Free Practice pacesetter Martin was the fastest out the traps in Q2, the KTM star was leading Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) and Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in the opening exchanges, before Q1 graduate Nagashima then went P1. However, Canet was on a charge. The number 44 slammed in a 1:28.787 to lay down the gauntlet to his rivals. Martin responded shortly after but he was two tenths adrift in second place, with Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) going P4.

The Australian then crashed unhurt at Turn 1, as Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) took a small tumble at Turn 3 with the duo both inside the top 10. In tandem, SKY Racing Team VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi was then up to P4 as he followed Luca Marini. The Italians swapped track position as Marini got himself up to P9, the Championship leader struggling to make real inroads into the top six.

Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) looked back to his best as the experienced Swiss rider climbed to P7 in Q2, but no one was able to really look like they were going to challenge Canet’s benchmark. That was until Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Nagashima were just a tenth down halfway round the lap with little time remaining. At the line though, neither improved and it was left to a hard-charging Martin to try and topple Canet. Martin was 0.034 under Canet’s time as he roared past the Sector 3 marker and into Turn 9. But the former Moto3™ World Champion was unable to keep his soaring lap going, crossing the line a tenth down on Canet’s time.

This meant Canet had sealed a magnificent first Moto2™ pole in just his sixth attempt. Martin won’t be too disheartened with second on the grid, he’s once again shown great race pace in Practice and will be confident of a repeat performance a week on from his first Moto2™ victory. Nagashima salved a front row start after finishing second in Q1, that’s by far his best qualifying of the season – his previous best being P8 at the Spanish GP. Can the Japanese rider get his Championship charge back on track at the Red Bull Ring?

Fernandez’ P4 in qualifying is his best Saturday result of the season too, a pre-season favourite is finding form. Bezzecchi launches from the middle of the second row aiming for his second podium of the season, with Gardner’s crash – luckily – not affecting him too badly. It’s P6 for the Kalex rider, who keeps Lüthi off the second row by 0.051. Both the latter and Garzo set the exact same lap time in Q2 to line-up P7 and P8, with Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) and Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Nicolo Bulega completing the top 10.

11th is Lowes’ worst qualifying result of 2020. The Briton crashed heavily in FP3 and will be feeling the effects of his shoulder injury earlier in the year, while Championship leader Marini had to settle for 12th in Styrian GP qualifying. Dixon and Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) sit between the Italian and title rival Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) as 2020’s leading contenders aim to claw their way through the field on Sunday afternoon.

Tune in for the Moto2™ race at 12:20 (GMT+2)!

Top 10:
1. Aron Canet (Openbank Aspar Team) – 1:28.787
2. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.118
3. Tetsuta Nagashima (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.370
4. Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 0.381
5. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.390
6. Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) + 0.403
7. Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 0.454
8. Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) + 0.454
9. Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) + 0.466
10. Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 0.473

Click here for the full results!

Every practice session, qualifying battle and race, exclusive interviews, historic races and so much more fantastic content: this is VideoPass!