#Moto2 and #Moto3 testing, Qatar: Day two roundup
Cometh the hour, cometh the six riders within just 0.089: that’s how the saying shall henceforth go. The intermediate class in Qatar has been close in the current era, but never more so on than Day 2 of the Official Moto2™ and Moto3™ Test at Losail International Circuit. The leader of the Moto2™ pack was Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing), and the rivals within 0.089 Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team), Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up), Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46)… whetting appetites for the race weekend ahead quite considerably.
It was windier on Day 2 and once again the morning session was a quiet one – lonely, even, for Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP 40) as the Italian was the sole rider to set a time. By Session 2 though, the ante was upping and the pack heading out, with the final session of the day then seeing all but one improve to set the combined timesheets. At the top was Vierge’s late charge with that five-rider gaggle on his tail, with Canet forced to settle for second for the second day in a row but looking threateningly fast, Navarro making waves up the timesheets, Gardner present once more, Dixon improving as he comes back from serious injury, and Bezzecchi leaping into the higher echelons after a more muted Day 1…
The gaps didn’t exactly get huge from there on out. Two and a half tenths off the super six, Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) slots into P7 as he settles in at his new team and on his new chassis, looking ever more impressive as track time goes on. Likewise the man in eighth: Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo). The Spanish rookie impressed on Day 1, so a grander word is needed for Day 2 as he ended Saturday just 0.019 off Bendsneyder. Fernandez’ 1:59.204 is only just over a second off the 2020 pole lap…
Two veterans came next, with Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) in ninth by just 0.007 and Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), setter of the aforementioned pole, completing the top ten by 0.034. Both have shown good pace on both days so far too, and will likely be pushing for a statement time attack on Sunday.
Tony Arbolino (Liqui Moly Intact GP) continued his impressive adaptation and was the second fastest rookie on Saturday, taking 11th and within 0.115 of Roberts. Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) slots into 12th ahead of another impressive rookie in the form of Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), the Japanese rider only another tenth in arrears.
The aforementioned Manzi ends the day in 14th as he adjusts to life at Flexbox HP 40 and on a Kalex, with Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) rounding out the top 15 after Day 2. Rookie American Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) leapfrogged a few of his rivals from Day 1 to take 19th and get the better of reigning Moto3™ World Champion Albert Arenas (Inde Aspar Team) by just 0.021, with the timesheets necessitating the use of hundredths or thousandths to measure the gap through almost the entire field.
Day 2 saw veteran lightweight class runner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) rise to the top of the timesheets, the British rider leaving it late but able to pull out a gap of three tenths to impress once again, having also been second quickest on Friday. That honour went the way of Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) on Day 2, the Italian 0.306 down, with Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) taking third and a further tenth off the top.
Saturday at Losail International Circuit saw windier conditions greet the grid, and once again there was a little less action in the first session as only 18 riders headed out. McPhee wasn’t one of them, but the Brit was back up to speed backing up his Friday pace in the afternoon, with no one able to provide an answer for his 2:05.286 and the gap from first to second proving the biggest of the day. He did suffer a small crash late on, but rider ok. Foggia was another fast on both days, Migno likewise – but Saturday saw a different rookie take over as the fastest debutant.
2020 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup winner Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) had an impressive Friday as the second quickest rookie, but the Spaniard moved even further up the timesheets on Day 2 to take fourth and get into the 2:05s. Also quick in the morning and second only to teammate Jaume Masia, there are some impressive performances coming in from the 2021 rookies already. Izan Guevara (GasGas Gaviota Aspar Team) was also quickest in the second session of the day.
Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) was fifth quickest and just 0.070 off Acosta, with a close group forming behind the Czech rider. Carlos Tatay (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) was sixth by 0.093 despite a crash – rider ok, as was fellow tumbler Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power). Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) was seventh by 0.014, and he in turn got the better of Masia by just 0.017. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) kept Husqvarna in the top ten in P9 and was a further 0.078 off, with Saturday’s second fastest rookie, Izan Guevara, completing that top ten by another tiny margin… this time 0.005.
Guevara’s teammate Sergio Garcia slots into 11th, again by a tiny 0.068, with Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) a further tenth back in P12 as the Japanese rider made a huge leap up the timesheets after ending Friday outside the top 20. Friday’s fastest man, Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing), was next up by only 0.003 as the South African got the better of Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3). Xavier Artigas (Leopard Racing) completed the fastest fifteen, getting up to speed as he begins his first full season in Moto3™ as, curiously, both a rookie and a podium finisher thanks to his incredible wildcard at Valencia in 2019 on his first Grand Prix appearance.