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MotoGP Austin: Fernandez captivates COTA with Moto2 pole

Raul Fernandez denied his Red Bull KTM teammate pole position in Austin on Saturday with an astonishing 2’08.979 final lap.

Remy Gardner had been on to head Sunday’s grid before his rookie teammate struck - with an effort just shy of the all-time lap record - the pair joined by Fabio Di Giannantonio in Parc Fermé for front row celebrations. Sam Lowes was unable to capitalise at one of his strong circuits after a turn three crash in the closing minutes, Jake Dixon completing the day in 13th.

Celestino Vietti opened proceedings as Moto2 qualifying got up to speed. American Racing’s Marcos Ramirez taking over from the Sky VR46 man as the third laps came in. Somkiat Chantra split the pair on the Honda Team Asia Kalex with Tony Arbolino claiming the final promotion place with his fourth attempt and five minutes to go.


Vietti improved his time in the penultimate minute, advancing to second to consolidate his promotion, last minute challenges firing up initially from Fermín Aldeguer and Joe Roberts, in 11th and 12th with the American suffering a moment in the third sector as his lap fell away.

Saturday’s final action saw Jorge Navarro suffering once gain, as the Speed Up rider crashed out at turn 11. Di Giannantonio set the pace with a 2’09.457 from Vietti and Fernandez with Dixon starting strong from fourth.

The times ramped up at the halfway stage but with yellow flags flying in sector four, many times were under threat of deletion. Amongst them efforts from Gardner and Fernandez, but the Australian remained at the top thanks to a 2’09.197, his KTM teammate third.

Disaster struck Lowes with three minutes to go, as he crashed out at the end of the first sector from 15th, the Brit dropping a further position as the remaining times came in.

A final push saw the Red Bull rookie steal pole from Gardner with a sensational 2’08.979, a mere one-tenth off the all-time lap record on Fernandez’ first visit to the American circuit aboard Moto2 machinery. Di Giannantonio completing the front row from Marco Bezzecchi, Californian Cameron Beaubier and Augusto Fernandez with Dixon finishing the session in 13th.

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