A late shuffle secured a maiden Moto2 pole position for Celestino Vietti in Qatar after Sam Lowes’ commanding time was deleted after the flag.
Lowes put on a stunning performance in the Doha desert as the Elf Marc VDS man overcame ongoing wrist pain to top the timesheets with a 1’58 effort before his second best lap, placed him third overall. The squad’s celebrations continued however, as Tony Arbolino joined his teammate on the front row behind the Mooney VR46 rider’s maiden intermediate class pole and 1’59.082 lap.
Pertamina Mandalika’s Bo Bendsneyder was out front as Moto2 qualifying began, Barry Baltus sitting second on the RW Racing Kalex with Albert Arenas and Lorenzo Dalla Porta fighting the 16-strong group for the final four promotion places.
Jeremy Alcoba sat adrift of the all-important positions and ahead of Simone Corsi before Fermín Aldeguer launched an attack on the standings with three minutes to go. 1’59.690 was the result as the Speed Up secured the premier spot ahead of the final push.
Arenas improved to third next time around as Sean Dylan Kelly set a personal best on his debut weekend on the world stage. The Aspar rider continuing to push on his way to P1 as he shaved a further three-tenths off the outright pace. Aldeguer, Bendsneyder and Baltus collecting the remaining promotions as the only riders to run under the two-minute marker.
The final action rolled out with 15 minutes on the clock and one aim in mind, pole position. Jake Dixon opening the account with a 2’02.147 before his Aspar teammate improved with a 2’00.013. Countryman Lowes was the first to hit the 1’59’s, Gresini’s Filip Salac and American Racing’s Cameron Beaubier upping the anti with Arbolino claiming third as the opening offers registered.
Somkiat Chantra’s session ended early after collecting his Honda at turn seven, Vietti pushing the VR46 machine up to fifth at the midway stage before his time was deleted due to the yellow flags.
Marc VDS sat top as Arbolino and Lowes took first and second with Dixon third but with yellow flags out for Pedro Acosta at turn 16, question marks abound over the validity.
Lowes answered the critics with a 1’58.905 next time around to claim provisional pole with two minutes on the clock as Dixon’s effort disappeared. Salac collecting the final front row position as Marcel Schrotter too fell out of contention with a high speed crash at turn 13.
The chequered flag secured Lowes at the top despite the obvious complications from his injured wrist, teammate Arbolino sharing the celebrations in third as Vietti stole second in the dying moments before turn 15 track limits shuffled the standings in the VR46 riders favour.
Gresini’s Salac settled for fourth ahead of Ai Ogura and a late charge from KTM’s Augusto Fernandez with Dixon lining up seventh for his first race back with the Aspar squad.