Elf Marc VDS rider Sam Lowes secured his third consecutive Moto2 pole of 2021 at Portimao this afternoon, despite a small crash in the closing seconds at turn 11.
November’s race winner Remy Gardner joins his rival on the front row, in second, with Xavi Vierge coming through from Q1 and putting a difficult Qatar behind him, to take third.
Vierge was the man on the move as qualifying began for the intermediate category, Somkiat Chantra, Cameron Beaubier and Lorenzo Baldassarri initially occupying the top-four positions as Jorge Navarro crashed out in the opening minutes at the top of turn 11.
Marcel Schrotter pushed his Intact GP machine into second, demoting Baldassarri out of contention before further disaster struck the Italian as he retired his MV Agusta at the side of the track.
Albert Arenas was the next to challenge, as he and Cameron Beaubier battled for the lead, Vierge and Schrotter behind in third and fourth as the clock hit two to go. Tom Luthi so far the only rider yet to set a time.
As the flag prepared, Chantra hit the top with a 1’43.318, Arenas, Beaubier and Vierge completing the promotion zone as the first 15-minutes concluded, the second shootout just moments away.
The final qualifying of the Portuguese weekend began with Aron Canet’s blistering FP3 time reinstated, the Italian now claiming the all-time lap-record at the Algarve International Circuit thanks to his morning’s 1’42.494 effort.
Lowes set the early pace, a 1’43.916, as the first laps registered before the times tumbled second time around. The Brit was back in charge and almost exactly a second faster, as he once again became the only rider in a different time bracket, Gardner sitting best of the rest with a 1’43.032 from Vierge and Ai Ogura. Garner improved on his next attempt, just 0.006 shy of the Marc VDS man, as one-second covered the top-15 with five minutes of action left to plan out.
Marco Bezzecchi advanced to fifth ahead of Lowes’ teammate Augusto Fernandez, with Arenas, Canet, Chantra and Hector Garzo completing the top-10. Beaubier sat 11th ahead of the final hot-laps with Raul Fernandez, Jake Dixon and fellow American Joe Roberts for company. Nicolò Bulega, Yari Montella, Marcos Ramirez and Fabio Di Giannantonio completing the pack.
Lowes was back in his confident rhythm as he continued to reduce his time, with little threat registering on the timing screens as the session wound down, before the crown of turn 11 caught him out, unhurt, as the chequered flag was raised. A late charge from Roberts saw the Italtrans rider advance to ninth but there was no change at the top.
Lowes secured his third consecutive pole of 2021 - his 14th in the class to date - from last year’s race victor Gardner and Petronas rider Vierge. Ogura claimed fourth from Bezzecchi and Augusto Fernandez with Arenas heading row three, Roberts and Canet promoted for company as Raul Fernandez’s fastest time was deleted, and the KTM rider dropped to 10th. Chantra lines up 11th for tomorrow’s 22-lap contest ahead of Garzo and Beaubier with Dixon in the middle of row five, in 14th. Bulega ended the day 15th with Di Giannantonio, Ramirez and Montella completing the top-18.
Schrotter, Stefano Manzi and Lorenzo Dalla Porta start Sunday’s race from 19th to 21st respectively after the opening qualifying session with Tom Luthi, Celestino Vietti and Baldassarri behind on row eight. Tony Arbolino heads row nine with Bo Bendsneyder and Hafizh Syahrin for company while Miquel Pons, Fraser Rogers and Navarro complete the grid on row 10.