KTM’s Remy Gardner headed FP2 at the Red Bull Ring with Marco Bezzecchi taking the overall Moto2 crown as the StyrianGP fired up.
The Italian’s morning effort was enough to hold off the Australian’s ‘home advantage’ while Marc VDS’ Sam Lowes and Augusto Fernandez remained firmly in the fight with second places a piece - the Brit taking the session honours while the Spaniard claimed the overall runners-up spot thanks to his earlier FP1 lap. Jake Dixon completed the opening day in 20th.
The intermediate class fired up with Marco Bezzecchi in charge at the top of the early standings. The VR46 rider is heavily rumoured to be heading to Petronas MotoGP in place of his Academy mentors for 2022 rather than receiving the direct promotion expected within his current outfit.
Raul Fernandez sat second after the opening 10-minutes of FP1 action, with Jake Dixon bettering his Petronas Moto2 teammate, Xavi Vierge, for fourth and fifth. Augusto Fernandez outpaced his namesake as the session continued before Tom Luthi dropped the KTM further by claiming third position moments later - the SAG rider putting in a rejuvenated performance after the summer break.
A steady start for Sam Lowes saw the Marc VDS man in 12th at the halfway stage. Tony Arbolino, Aron Canet, Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Bo Bendsneyder completed the top-10 with Fabio Giannantonio circulating on a similar pace to the Brit, eighth-tenths from the lead, in 11th.
Somkiat Chantra advanced the standings as the final 15-minutes began, claiming third with a 1’29.777, two-tenths shy of Bezzecchi’s best so far. Lowes joined the top-10 next time around before taking third with his 14th effort, as Remy Gardner set about improving on 18th.
The final five minutes enjoyed a flourish of activity as Jorge Navarro became the next rider to take third. Lowes improved again, this time to second, just 0.119 from his rival and 0.005 ahead of his teammate as Gardner finally joined the fight, in fourth. Dalla Porta demoted Navarro to sixth with four-minutes to go, as Fernandez leapfrogged Lowes and claimed the lead from Bezzecchi thanks to a 1’29.195.
The screens lit red as the hot-laps filed in, Ai Ogura the first to advance as he made his way to third, Lowes retaking the position moments later, after having his previous time deleted, as Stefano Manzi moved up to seventh. Canet was the next to challenge, he too finding third position as Dalla Porta joined him for fourth.
A late effort from Bezzecchi saw the Italian retake the lead as the session concluded, Fernandez settling for second with teammate Lowes fifth at the flag. Ogura sat sixth from the KTM duo of Gardner and Fernandez with Manzi and Navarro completing the opening top-10. While Dixon headed Vierge in 15th and 16th.
An almost dry track greeted Moto2 after earlier rain as Friday’s final practice began. Bezzecchi was quickly back in charge from Arbolino and Canet with Lowes just a tenth back in fourth. The Brit was up to second with his fifth effort of the afternoon, Navarro falling foul of turn nine after 13-minutes.
Four-tenths separated the top-eight as the pack squabbled for position, Canet taking charge from a Marc VDS tag team of Lowes and Fernandez before Gardner bettered them all with a 1’29.910 - half a second down on his earlier best.
The normal run of play resumed at the halfway stage as the KTM and Marc VDS quartet locked out the standings, The Fernandez pairing heading Gardner and Lowes before Dalla Porta swept into fourth and the Australian advanced to second. The Italtrans man was on a charge, however, claiming the lead with 17-minutes to go. His 1’29.663 edging closer to the morning’s record as conditions continued to improve.
Lowes was back up to second and one-tenth off the lead as the final third began. Bezzecchi following suit, for fourth, as he split the KTM’s before crashing out at the opening corner.
Gardner became the first of the top-14 to improve on his FP1 time, a 1’29.244 heading the session with five to go, as Marcel Schrotter did likewise for sixth moments later. Lowes and Fernandez remained on the Australian’s tail, and almost inseparable from each other, as they took second and third before Luthi did indeed split the pair, with just 0.052s covering the trio.
Times continued to refine as the clock counted down. Lowes again shaving fractions off his overall best as Vierge took sixth and Dalla Porta claimed third. Bendsneyder crashing out at turn one in the final minute.
With the flag flying, Gardner secured the session but Bezzecchi’s FP1 time stood resplendent. Lowes sat second in FP2 and fourth overall as his teammate claimed the runner up spot from the Australian in the combined times, Dixon settling for 17th, just sevens-tenths adrift.