Gardner shows his class to edge out Bezzecchi

The Aussie had just fractions of a second to spare over his Italian counterpart with a tantalizing qualifying on the horizon

Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) provided the rest of the field with a gentle reminder of his class as he recorded a 1:28.680 to head into qualifying as the fastest rider in Moto2™. The Australian had 0.075 seconds to spare over Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) with Aron Canet (Aspar Team Moto2) further back in third at the close of Free Practice at the Michelin® Grand Prix of Styria.

Story of the top two

It comes as little surprise to see Gardner and Bezzecchi at the top of the timesheets, as the two have been the standout performers of the weekend so far, despite the Italian hitting the deck at turn three in the opening stages of the session. The VR46 academy rider managed to dust himself down to get back on board his Kalex machine and post his fastest lap of the session with five minutes remaining, removing Elf Marc VDS Racing Team’s Augusto Fernandez from top spot.

It didn’t take long for Gardner to register his response, posting his quickest time of the day to move into P1. That’s the way it remained, despite the fact there were over three minutes left on the clock, and it sets up a tantalizing battle ahead of qualifying.

The top 10

Canet jumped into the top three times on his final lap, pushing Augusto Fernandez to fourth. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) put in a positive performance to take fifth ahead of Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM AJo), with the Spaniard seemingly not performing at the same level we saw prior to the summer break. Rookie Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) continues to make positive strides forward and he occupies seventh on the time sheets, ahead of Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Itlatrans Racing Team), who himself is having a good weekend. Marcos Ramirez (American Racing) and Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) complete the top 10.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Jake Dixon are among the bigger names to miss out on an automatic Q2 place, as is Celestino Vietti. The SKY Racing Team VR46 rider was on a hot lap when he crashed in the final stages of the session. Lorenzo Baldassari (MV Augusta Forward Racing), Yari Montella (Lightech Speed Up) and Barry Baltus (NTS RW Racing GP) were the other FP3 fallers.

The intermediate class will be back on track at 3.10pm (CET) for Q1.

Top 10 combined:

1. Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – 1:28.680
2. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.075
3. Aron Canet (Aspar Team Moto2) + 0.174
4. Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 0.228
5. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 0.268
6. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.273
7. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) + 0.388
8. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) + 0.493
9. Marcos Ramirez (American Racing) + 0.503
10. Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 0.527

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