KTM’s Raul Fernandez secured his second successive Moto2 pole position as rain threatened the Mugello circuit on Saturday afternoon.
Britain’s Sam Lowes challenged repeatedly in the early stages before settling for second in the tricky conditions while a last-lap effort promoted Jorge Navarro into the final front row position.
A light sprinkling of rain arrived just as the Moto2 machines were released for Mugello qualifying. Simone Corsi took an impressive lead after the opening laps registered, the Italian digging deep to recover after his high-speed Friday crash.
Somkiat Chantra was the next to head the standings before Fermín Aldeguer took charge on his fourth attempt of the afternoon with a 1’51.710 - the Speed Up rider replacing the injured Yari Montella and becoming the youngest rider in the MotoGP classes, at just 16 years of age. Marcos Ramirez and Bo Bendsneyder held the final Q2 promotion places as the clock counted down, with the weather affecting any further challenges from fully threatening.
Hector Garzo, Hafizh Syahrin and Corsi were the first to miss out on promotion with Jake Dixon finishing the session in eighth, leaving the Brit lining up 22nd on tomorrow’s grid.
The rain continued as the final qualifying session fired up, Raul Fernandez taking the early lead from Sam Lowes and Bo Bendsneyder as Remy Gardner had his first bid deleted due to track limits. Ramirez, Tony Arbolino and Joe Roberts held top-six positions before the standings shuffled completely.
Gardner rose to the top ahead of Xavi Vierge before Lowes took the provisional pole with a 1’51.088. Marco Bezzecchi sat fourth from Fernandez and Arbolino with Fabio Di Giannantonio, Ramirez and Jorge Navarro behind. Bezzecchi was on the move as he advanced to third but it was the rookie star Fernandez who had his sights set on a second pole. Navarro was the next to climb, finding fourth before Di Giannantonio stole the position with his next lap.
Five minutes remaining and Vierge had dropped from second to seventh, Marcel Schrotter, Roberts and Lorenzo Dalla Porta rounding out the top-10 behind as Aron Canet crashed out, from 17th, two minutes later.
The final push saw little change to the top as conditions hindered progress, Navarro the only rider on a charge in the closing stages. The Spaniard’s efforts were rewarded with a front row start, demoting Gardner in the process as the Australian was forced back to fourth. Fernandez and Lowes sitting pretty at the top.
Di Giannantonio and Arbolino join Gardner on the second row for Sunday’s 21-lap race with Bezzecchi, Vierge and Schrotter behind on row three. A 10th place finish for Roberts lines the American up at the head of the fourth row, Dalla Porta and Ai Ogura following suit with Augusto Fernandez, Ramirez, Aldeguer, Bendsneyder, Canet and Chantra completing the top-18.