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MotoGP Portimao: Gardner takes FP3 on lap-record pace, Lowes third

KTM’s Remy Gardner was back to his Portimao best as Moto2 concluded Saturday’s FP3, Joe Roberts and Sam Lowes showcasing equally strong performances, with the trio separated by less than 0.3s in the morning session.

A slightly delayed final practice kicked off for the intermediate class after the drama of the MotoGP red flags. The pace immediately improving on Friday’s best with Raul Fernandez and Gardner tag teaming at the top of the standings - the rookie taking the lead with a 1’43.040 on his fifth lap of the morning. Roberts’ FP2 stunner still held him second in the combined times with the remaining top-10 all improving on yesterday afternoon in the opening laps.

A highside at turn five saw Miquel Pons ejected from his Forward Racing MV with Tom Luthi and Marcos Ramirez forced to take evasive action after 10 minutes of action with the entire pack back in the pits at the halfway stage.


Marco Bezzecchi sat fourth from Hector Garzo and Xavi Vierge with Marcel Schrotter, an improving performance from Augusto Fernandez, Aron Canet and Sam Lowes controlling the top-10. Yari Montella, Celestino Vietti, Cameron Beaubier and Jake Dixon so far holding the final promotion places with Luthi the first adrift of contention.

A turn seven crash for Stefano Manzi cut the Flexbox rider’s session short with 12 minutes to go as Lowes looked to be on a charge, advancing to third with his 13th lap before putting his head down to improve again, the next time around.

The pace increased much like the track temperatures as the session neared its midday conclusion, with 25 riders within a second as the final five minutes began. Gardner bested his teammate with the first 1’42 of the weekend, just over a tenth shy of last year’s lap record, before Canet smashed them both - 1’42.494 the new time to beat.

Two minutes to go and everything was changing, Lowes returned to third from Ramirez, Fernandez and a quality lap from Dixon before Roberts bettered the Marc VDS man - the top-five now all running 1’42 pace.

Gardner was back in charge as the session concluded due to Canet’s earlier effort being deleted, Roberts and Lowes completing the top-three. Ramirez, Fernandez and Bezzecchi held fourth to sixth with Dixon through to Q2 in seventh, Canet likewise thanks to his final lap securing him eighth at the flag. Ai Ogura finished ninth from Garzo, Nicolò Bulega and Montella with Fernandez and Fabio Di Giannantonio completing the all-important top-14.

Vierge and Vietti were the first to miss out on promotion, with Q1 also beckoning for Albert Arenas, Beaubier, Schrotter and Luthi.

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