KTM’s Remy Gardner gave the home crowd something to celebrate by topping Moto2 FP3 with a 1’28.680 lap at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday morning.
Friday’s pacesetter, Marco Bezzecchi completed the final StyrianGP practice in second after recovering from an early crash, with Aron Canet joining him in the top-three. Sam Lowes finished fifth just 0.04s behind Elf teammate Augusto Fernandez while Jake Dixon concluded FP3 in 24th.
Bezzecchi didn’t get off to the best of starts after his impressive Friday, suffering a bizarre high speed crash at turn three on his first flying lap. Lorenzo Baldassarri the next to suffer in a near-identical incident at the same corner moments later.
Lowes took charge on his fourth lap of the morning before Marc VDS teammate Fernandez bettered next time around. Tom Luthi joined the top-three seconds later with Gardner and Raul Fernandez holding fourth and fifth as the session developed.
The KTM’s continued their advance as the session neared the halfway stage, demoting Lowes to fourth before the rookie’s time was deleted and he returned to third. Somkiat Chantra was the next to challenge the Brit, Ai Ogura doing likewise with his ninth lap as he moved up to second.
Fernandez consistently fine-tuned his pace at the front with impressive accuracy before returning to pitlane for the mid-session lull. Luthi staying out as he improved his rhythm and consolidated third.
The second runs bought improvements for Gardner and Marcos Ramirez, in second and fourth respectively as Marcel Schrotter made the climb to sixth with 12-minutes left to play. Dixon too bettered his Friday performance with the Brit circulating just nine-tenths off the pace, but the close session left him sitting 16th in the session and 21st overall.
The closing 10-minutes put Lowes back to third, two-tenths away from his teammate and hard on the wheels of his Australian rival before he improved again to claim second. Tony Arbolino making the jump to seventh as Raul Fernandez dropped to 12th before the KTM too, regrouped into the top-three.
Bezzecchi was back in action for the final five minutes as the Sky VR46 rider immediately rose to fourth before heading the standings with his next attempt. 1’28.755 the closing benchmark with teammate Celestino Vietti and Xavi Vierge in the danger zone for Q2 promotion.
The session fired up as the clock counted down, Gardner the next to take charge as the top-five all began flying laps, Barry Baltus and Yari Montella crashing out and disrupting the flowers the yellow flags were shown.
The screens were alight in red as the final minute began, the third sector defeating their efforts for the majority as Canet joined the fight in third.
Gardner maintained his command as the chequered flag flew, Bezzecchi and Canet leading the Marc VDS duo of Fernandez and Lowes with KTM’s rookie settling for sixth. Ogura, Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Ramirez and Schrotter secured the top-10 while a late crash for Vietti prevented the Italian from challenging for a Q2 spot. Arbolino, Luthi, Chantra and Vierge completing the promotion places.