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MotoGP Valencia #2: Shock maiden Moto2 pole for Manzi as Lowes battles injury

Stefano Manzi stole the show in Moto2 qualifying this afternoon as the MV Agusta rider secured the somewhat unexpected maiden pole position of his Grand Prix career.

Hector Garzo and Marco Bezzecchi will join the 21-year-old on the front row for Sunday’s Valencia GP with Britain’s Sam Lowes battling the pain barrier to bring his Marc VDS bike home in 18th.

The final qualifying of the penultimate weekend saw the Moto2 class enjoy dry and consistent conditions after the fluctuating weather endured earlier in the day. Jorge Martin, Remy Gardner and Lorenzo Baldassarri were among the 15 riders vying for a place in Q2, with the Italian taking the early lead ahead of Aron Canet and the illness-plagued Australian.


Despite suffering a week-long stomach bug, Gardner again rose to the top with his fourth lap before Martin stole the position by just seven-hundredths of a second. Simone Corsi and Baldassarri held on to the final top-four spots with just four minutes to go, Tom Luthi displacing the Flexbox rider on his next revolution before the Italian again stuck back with the fastest time of the session.

Corsi and Canet continued to battle on the edge of the promotion zone as the clock ticked down with a final push from Corsi looking to secure the position as he advanced to third. A final flourish from Luthi, however, stole fourth at the flag as a prematurely celebrating Gardner was demoted to best of the rest, leaving him openly dejected and sitting 19th on Sunday’s grid.

Lowes started the final shootout in intense pain after this morning’s major tumble, heavy strapping and multiple ice packs attempting to the ease the situation for the dogged Brit - earlier medical checks having highlighted no breaks to his right wrist - but the final proof would come as he mounted his Marc VDS machine.

Garzo opened proceedings with a 1’34.754 before Fabio Di Giannantonio countered half-a-tenth ahead. Utilising their Q1 knowledge, Corsi and Martin joined the top-four with Bo Bendsneyder fifth before Manzi made his move for pole with six minutes still to play and Marcel Schrotter slid into third.

Four minutes remaining found Luca Marini advancing to fifth as the pace increased across the board. Garzo and Di Giannantonio again advanced the times as Bezzecchi and Martin split the pair for second and third, DiGi retaking the final front row spot from the KTM rider as the last minute counted down.

An impressive late challenge gave Manzi the pole with 1’34.418 from Garzo and Bezzecchi with Di Giannantonio, Martin and Marcos Ramirez claiming the second row. Schrotter, Baldassari and Bendsneyder will start Sunday’s 25-lap race on row three, ahead of Marini, Corsi and Enea Bastianini with Xavi Vierge, Nicolò Bulega and Jorge Navarro behind on row four.

A disappointing qualifying for Joe Roberts found the American down in 16th with Tom Luthi for company while the injured Lowes concluded a difficult session in 18th and less than a second off the pace - having improved from over three adrift at the start - the Brit also indicating technical issues as he entered the pits.

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