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MotoGP Mugello: Dixon dominates Moto2 day one

Inde GasGas Aspar’s Jake Dixon proved the speed was there once again as he locked out the Moto2 free practice times at Mugello on Friday.

The Brit’s impressive 1’51.966 lap was the only effort under the 1’52 barrier throughout the opening day of Italian GP preparations with KTM Ajo’s Augusto Fernandez and Flexbox’ Aron Canet the closest challengers, three-tenths adrift.

Elf Marc VDS locked out the standings as Friday practice began with Sam Lowes and Tony Arbolino setting the pace. The Brit circulating seven-tenths ahead of his Italian teammate with a 1’53.270 before Aspar’s wildcard Matteo Pasini arrived 0.037s ahead. Red Bull’s Fernandez headed Manuel Gonzales and an improving Arbolino in the top five as Sean Dylan Kelly hit the gravel at turn six. His American Racing machine laying across the track as the pack approached at speed despite the waved yellows.


Fernandez advanced the pace as the halfway stage approached with a 1’53.145 as Somkiat Chantra improved to fourth on the Honda Team Asia. Arbolino and Canet muscled their way into second and fourth moments later before Cameron Beaubier arrived just shy of the Marc VDS man and championship leader Celestino Vietti made his mark in second. The top five now covered by a mere 0.088s.

The pace picked up as the second half began with Chantra now in command from teammate Ai Ogura, the pair the first to break into 1’52 pace with Pedro Acosta neatly topping his own teammate in the top four from an equally improving Beaubier before Vietti bettered the American once again.

VR46 Master Camp’s Gonzales circulated in seventh, two-tenths off the fastest effort with Arbolino, Pasini and Canet heading Brits Lowes and Dixon in the top 12 as the final 15 minutes got going. Vietti retuning to the top in front of his home fans with a 1’52.824 on the Mooney VR46 machine.

Lowes was back in second just 0.066 off Vietti with ten minutes left on the clock before setting the pace overall with a 1’52.800 on his 13th attempt. Dixon likewise improved his Inde Aspar to eighth ahead of an outright advance. Acosta, Fernandez and Dixon all taking their turns at the top before the Brit set the first 1’51.966 of the morning. Chantra suffering opposing fortunes with a turn nine crash in the closing five minutes.

Filip Salac was the next to shine as he promoted the Gresini to fourth, half a second adrift of the leading Brit with Lowes 0.08s behind. Niccolo Antonelli bettering his teammate by a tenth in the top seven with Chantra, Alonso Lopez and Pasini rounding out the top ten.

Late moves saw Canet advance from 17th to third to split the Ajo riders as Acosta consolidated fourth. The chequered flag finding little improvement in the leading times ahead of the afternoon heat.
FP2 found Acosta in charge of the times as he homed in on the morning target. Gonzalez leading Chantra and Fernandez in best of the rest with Aspar’s Albert Arenas marking his arrival in fifth. Vietti bettering the GasGas rider for position next time around with Canet, Lowes, Ogura and Bo Bendsneyder completing the top ten.

The usual mid-session lull saw the pack working on race pace before the times lit up once again in the closing stages. Barry Baltus was the first to make improvements as the RW Racing rider made his way to sixth in the session times. Lowes finding fitch moments later before Fermin Aldeguer joined him on the Speed Up in sixth.

Chantra hit the top with a 1’52.350, improving to fourth overall having recovered from his morning fall with Fernandez, Acosta and Arenas closely matched behind. Joe Roberts advanced to fifth on the Italtrans as the final three minutes began. Canet and Arbolino demoting him in quick succession as they too took their turn on the edge of the top five.

Limited improvements threatened in the final minute with Acosta rolling out of a personal best. Chantra topped the session with Dixon safe overall at the head of the times as Lopez, Pasini and Ogura sat adrift of the promotion zone at the close of play.

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