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MotoGP Qatar II: Lowes leads stormy Saturday practice

Sam Lowes set the fastest FP3 time as the only rider to enter the two-minute benchmark after difficult track conditions decreased the Moto2 pace on Saturday morning.

Marco Bezzecchi was in hot-pursuit of his main championship challenger, in second, with Australian Remy Gardner concluding the day’s opening top-three.

Moto2 returned to a dusty Doha track as strong winds buffeted the desert surroundings for the final free practice. Tony Arbolino took charge with a 2’01.656 from Aron Canet and Gardner in the opening minutes with riders expecting to complete the session without challenging Friday’s times.


Canet, Marcel Schrotter and Lowes were the first to best the Italian’s early marker over the following two revolutions before Gardner advanced once again. Hector Garzo became the first victim to Saturday’s conditions falling at turn 16 with 10 minutes gone while Cameron Beaubier looked to be finding his groove with his American Racing Moto2 machine, rising up the standings to sit fourth on his sixth attempt.

The American’s confidence was clear to see as he continued to improve his times, sitting third at the halfway stage, the Petronas pairing of Xavi Vierge and Jake Dixon working in tandem as they too refined their performance to claim seventh and eighth respectively before returning to the pits.

The mid-session lull gave way to a final flurry of activity as the field returned to the track for the closing 10 minutes. Lowes and Bezzecchi the first to make an impact as the pair progressed to fifth and sixth, Fabio Di Giannantonio joining them, in seventh, moments later.

The Brit wasn’t done, however, as he stormed the times on his next revolution - the first rider to sit inside the two minute marker - before his time was deleted due to track limits. Having followed his title-rival, Bezzecchi was left to head the times with a 2’01.0 before Lowes again hit back, this time securing the lead and a 2’00.878 time with his 13th effort.

FP3 was done and very dusted after a blustery 40-minutes with Lowes consolidating the lead from Bezzecchi, Gardner, Canet and Arbolino. Beaubier sat an impressive sixth from Vierge, Di Giannantonio and Dixon with Schrotter concluding the session’s top-10.

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