Double-winner Remy Gardner maintained his place at the top of the Moto2 standings by dominating Friday’s overall times at the Sachsenring from KTM teammate Raul Fernandez.
Newly announced 2022 MotoGP rider, Fabio Di Giannantonio claimed third ahead of Marc VDS’s Sam Lowes with fellow Brit Jake Dixon completing the opening day of the German GP in 25th.
The seventh weekend of 2021 began with a change of Crew Chief for Dixon as Mark Woodage joined the Brit in the Moto2 class after switching from Petronas’ frustrated and “disappointed” Moto3 rider John McPhee.
Fernandez kicked off the morning session at the head of the times, with a 1’25.140, and just 0.021s separating him from his namesake Augusto Fernandez. Xavi Vierge, Gardner and Lowes circulated firmly in contention as two-tenths covered the top-five, with Marco Bezzecchi and Di Giannantonio sitting sixth and seventh.
Vierge took charge with a 1’25.097 on his 11th lap, his Petronas teammate Dixon circulating in 19th at the halfway stage with Marcel Schrotter falling at the last corner as the session unfolded.
A mid-session lull was broken by Remy Gardner sliding into second, achingly close to his KTM teammate behind, as 0.064s now covered the top-four riders before the Australian broke into the 1’24’s on his next effort, sitting over two-tenths clear with eighth minutes left to run.
Di Giannantonio was the next to challenge, finding third before advancing to second, two laps later. Tony Arbolino became the next to suffer at turn 13 with Aron Canet and Hafizh Syahrin doing likewise - at turns 12 and 13 respectively - moments later. Lorenzo Dalla Porta putting in a solitary late change, to sixth, as the session reached its conclusion.
A slight delay to the afternoon’s final session saw a mini-twister distributing grass and hay across turn 11 as the heat and wind picked up - ambient temperatures reaching into the mid-30’s with the asphalt registering highs of 53℃.
As the action eventually ramped up, Lowes took charge with the fastest time of the day so far, a 1’24.640 on his third lap, before the red flags came out due to track conditions - the continuing wind picking up pitboard elements and depositing them in the path of the oncoming riders along the start/finish straight. Vierge and the second Marc VDS of Fernandez sat second and third as the pack returned to the pits, with Simone Corsi, Arbolino and Di Giannantonio claiming the top-six.
Green flags released the riders with 31 minutes left to play, KTM’s Fernandez making the first impact on the times as he rose to third, his teammate Gardner looking to advance from 10th as the session counted down.
Fermin Aldeguer became the first faller of the afternoon, at turn one, as he continued his replacement ride for Yari Montella. The unfortunate Spaniard suffering a second fall at the same corner as he attempted to return to the action. Stefano Manzi succumbing to turn 13 as the final 10-minutes approached with Bezzecchi running wide at the first corner moments lager.
Fernandez was the first to light up the timing screens in the closing nine-minutes as the rookie took charge, just over a tenth ahead of Lowes’ previous best. Gardner followed suit on the next lap, pushing the pace to 1’24.197 as Di Giannantonio joined the KTM pair, in third. Bezzecchi continuing to struggle on the edge of the promotion zone as his Sky machine ran wide once again.
Lowes’ day came to an early end at turn 12, three and a half minutes before the flag, with Ai Ogura facing a similar fate at turn three. A difficult first day continued for Dixon as the Brit circulated in 27th with his penultimate lap deleted due to track limits.
Gardner retained his dominance as the clock counted down, Di Giannantonio looking to threaten with his final lap before ultimately settling for third behind the KTM duo. Lowes maintained fourth from Vierge and Fernandez with Corsi, Marcel Schrotter, Arbolino and Tom Luthi rounding out the top-10. Marcos Ramirez, Albert Arenas, Jorge Navarro and Bezzecchi completed the top-14 with Joe Roberts and Dalla Porta the first to miss out on the provisional Q2 positions.