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MotoGP Qatar II: Lowes does the double in Doha

Sam Lowes maintained his flawless Qatar performance with a double victory at the desert track despite non-stop pressure from Remy Gardner throughout. 

The KTM machines of Gardner and Raul Fernandez concluded the podium celebrations after the duo worked tirelessly together to hunt down the impressive Brit but the 30-year-old dug deep in the closing laps to hold on to his lead in both the race and the championship. 

There was opposing fortunes for Jake Dixon after the Petronas rider dropped from an early fifth position, circulating in the mid-pack for the majority of the race before ending the night early thanks to a crash at turn 14 on unlucky lap 13. 


Lights out for Moto2 saw Lowes take the hole shot before conceding the lead to Marco Bezzecchi, the menacing KTM’s hard on their wheels as Gardner headed Fernandez in the top-four. Lowes’ teammate enjoyed an impressive start as Augusto Fernandez claimed fifth in the opening stages. Aron Canet was soon on a charge as he stole the position from the Marc VDS man before the Spaniard hit back before the first lap reached its conclusion. 

Lap two saw the top-two remaining constant as Fernandez took over from Gardner, Canet moving back to fifth from Ai Ogura, Joe Roberts and Fabio Di Giannantonio as A. Fernandez dropped to ninth now with Dixon for company. The Petronas rider soon had his teammate Xavi Vierge alongside before the Brit suddenly dropped to 16th, just as Lowes hit the front. 

Lowes upped the pace as he looked to pull away - the pole-sitter having earlier replicated his previous Sunday schedule with another warm up crash ahead of the 20-lap race, was superstition hinting at a similar result the second time around? The KTM battle behind meanwhile, was also heating up, the duo almost coming together with Bezzecchi as lap four wound down. 

The start of lap six saw the orange machines eventually get the better of the Sky machine thanks to teamwork and a useful slipstream down the straight, Gardner dragging the rookie through as they immediately set after the leader. Further back and Ogura was making moves on Canet for sixth while Stefano Manzi made himself known in ninth. Roberts holding fast in fifth before disaster struck the American at turn 14 and the Italtrans machine rolled through the gravel. 

12 to go and Lowes was looking harassed at the front as he struggled with his rear tyre, Gardner biding his time as he waited for the perfect opportunity to strike while Di Giannantonio got the better of Ogura for fifth. There was more heartbreak for American fans as Cameron Beaubier followed his countryman for an early bath, this time crashing out at turn eight. 

Mid-race-distance saw Lowes regrouped and steadily increasing his pace, a three-tenth gap now separating him from the pursuing Australian as Dixon too seemed to be back on the move and circulating 13th. 

Canet’s earlier progress seemed to be fading fast as the Italian dropped down the standings, with the Aspar rider finding himself in 10th with eight laps to go. Tom Luthi’s race ending in dramatic style at turn two with Dixon and Marcel Schrotter coming together shortly after at turn 14. 

Lowes’ lead was just under half a second as Gardner’s team hurried him on from the pit-wall as lap 16 began, Canet’s difficult evening going from bad to worse as he lost the front at turn 16 as the lap counted down. 

Four to go and Lowes was still in charge but with danger close behind, the pace continuing to rise in the low 1’59’s as the Australian chased hard, Fernandez a further 0.5s behind the battling duo. Bezzecchi looked comfortable in fourth as Manzi moved to fifth, the second Marc VDS recovering to sixth ahead of Ogura and Vierge, as class rookies Tony Arbolino and Celestino Vietti rounded out the top-10. 


Two to go and Lowes set the fastest lap of the race as he dug deep to maintain control, Gardner responding as he looked to keep the battle alive but the gap extended back to half a second before the Elf sponsored machine was seen twitching in the third sector as the clock counted down. 

It was heart-in-mouth stuff as the last lap fired up, Gardner answering with his own fastest lap effort and the gap disappeared to less then two-tenths in the closing sector. It was a last-corner-lunge or nothing as the KTM got into position but it wasn’t to be, Lowes crossed the line for his second consecutive victory of 2021 - the first from a British rider in the intermediate class since Mike Hailwood in 1966. 

Fernandez claimed the first podium of his debut Moto2 season with third place in only his second race, as Bezzecchi once again failed to make the rostrum. Ogura finished fifth from Augusto Fernandez, and Vietti with Manzi, Vierge and Di Giannantonio completing the top-10. Arbolino found the flag in 11th ahead of Bo Bendsneyder and Jorge Navarro with Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Albert Arenas taking the final points positions. Hector Garzo, Nicolò Bulega, Yari Montella, Somkiat Chantra, Lorenzo Baldassarri and Hafizh Syahrin completing the 21 finishers. 

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