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MotoGP Mandalika: Dixon celebrates maiden Moto2 pole, Lowes third

Inde Aspar’s Jake Dixon celebrated his stunning form at the Mandalika Circuit with a debut Moto2 pole for the IndonesianGP.

The Brit took charge with a 1’35.799 on his fifth lap of qualifying, for an all-time lap record at the championship's newest venue. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Augusto Fernandez and Elf Marc VDS’ Sam Lowes coming together on the final lap due to an early flag call as the pair rounded out the front row for Sunday’s 25-lap battle.

Q1 opened with bright sunshine after the deluge of the morning practice. American Sean Dylan Kelly unfortunate to slide out of his out lap at turn 17 as Jeremy Alcoba headed the early times. The Liqui Moly rider was joined by teammate Marcel Schrotter at the top second time round with the German’s 1’38.041 before American Joe Roberts found the first 1’37 of the day.


The times continued to tumble as the session warmed up. Bo Bendsneyder taking charge on the Pertamina Mandalika SAG ahead of Somkiat Chantra, Ai Ogura and Barry Baltus as Gresini’s Alessandro Zaccone and the second SAG machine of Gabriel Rodrigo crashed out.

Bendsneyder continued to lead, on 1’36.738 pace, with five minutes to go. Simone Corsi running second from Baltus and Chantra as Ogura dropped out of contention in the closing stages. The Idemitsu Honda rider was given a stay of execution, however, as Baltus’ time was deleted due to yellow flags before the situation flipped again on the number seven’s next attempt.

Two minutes to go and Chantra’s 1’36.464 led from the Dutchman. Alcoba and Corsi remaining in check for the final provisional places with Roberts narrowly adrift, by just 0.023s, as Baltus’ run concluded in the gravel.

The second 15 minutes fired up with KTM’s Pedro Acosta hunting for the best position possible after his free practice crash under yellow flags on Friday left him with a long lap penalty for Sunday’s race. Manuel Gonzales’ qualifying ending before it began after a technical on the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp machine in the opening sector.

Jorge Navarro was the next to suffer, after a crash at turn two saw the Flexbox Pons slide out. Cameron Beaubier experiencing the same pain moments later as the American limped off track.

Chantra sat in provisional pole with a 1’36.275 as the session got up to speed. Albert Arenas the next to succumb to the second corner on the Inde GasGas Aspar as teammate Dixon circulated in 13th. Sam Lowes took charge on the Marc VDS as the pace edged towards the 1’36 barrier, Dixon the first to break through with a 1’35.799 on his fifth lap for a British one-two at the top of the times.

Previous Elf teammate Fernandez sat third on the KTM from Chantra, Arenas and Mooney VR46’s Celestino Vietti before the Ajo rider upped the pace to take second. Marcos Ramirez crashed the MV Agusta at turn 12 with three minutes left on the clock as Bendsneyder promoted himself to fifth.

The final minute saw Acosta down at turn two from 11th as first sector promise for Lowes faded, a final corner moment preventing the Brit from doubling down on his last effort with the chequered flag shown early to add to his confusion. The disappointment, however, was short lived as Lowes secured the front row start behind countrymen Dixon and ex-teammate Fernandez.

Chantra, Bendsneyder and Arenas headed Vietti, Tony Arbolino and late-faller Corsi with Acosta, Beaubier and Fermin Aldeguer completing row four. A somewhat subdued session for Aron Canet saw the Pons rider 13th ahead of Ramirez and Alcoba with Romano Fenati completing the finishers. Navarro and Gonzales failing to set times due to their early issues.

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