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MotoGP Valencia: Front row for Lowes as Bastianini slumps to 15th

Xavi Vierge will start the Moto2 European GP from pole position after a frenetic last-minute-battle saw the Petronas rider successfully break challenges from Joe Roberts and Sam Lowes with a breathtaking 1’38.936 lap in the dying seconds.

Championship contenders Luca Marini and Enea Bastianini will start Sunday’s 25-lap race in seventh and 15th respectively.

Blue skies broke through the clouds as Moto2 headed out for Valencia’s final qualifying sessions. Officially destined for the premier class in 2021 - alongside Bastianini at Esponsorama Ducati - Marini had Q1 to contend with this afternoon after a difficult start to the weekend.


The Italian continuing to suffer with his damaged ankle after re-injuring it during training with the VR46 Academy last week.

Aron Canet set the time to beat on his fourth lap of the opening session from Jorge Navarro and Bo Bendsneyder with Marini clinging to the final promotion spot at the halfway point.

Tetsuta Nagashima advancing to second on his fifth attempt to push Marini out of contention with six minutes to go. The Japanese rider proved a further fly in the ointment for Marini as his turn eight crash halted the Sky machine’s next hot lap but the Italian was far from done, regrouping to set the fastest time in the penultimate minute with a 1’46.542 before Hafizh Syahrin shaved a further 0.08 to go top.

The flag dropped with the top-two safe, Navarro and Canet looking to claim the final promotion spots before Bendsneyder and Andi Izdihar spoiled the party - the Dutchman sliding into fourth while an impressive late-charge from the Indonesian claimed second.

Navarro again looked to return to the top-four but a mistake in the final sector left him settling for fifth and a seventh row start for Sunday’s contest, alongside Canet and Stefano Manzi.

Slick tyres finally made an appearance as Q2 got underway with Marco Bezzecchi leading the way as the initial times were laid down before Joe Roberts bettered with a blistering 1’44.604. The drying track allowed the times to really tumble as Vierge and Lowes entered the 1’43’s with six minutes to go before Bezzecchi and Roberts challenged again into the high ’42’s.

The Championship leader’s confidence was far from wavering, however, as Lowes laid down a 1’41.657, the American retaliating once again to sit 0.045 clear before Bezzecchi and Remy Gardner joined the fight with two minutes to go. 1’39.790 was Lowes’ first reply, taking provisional pole by over a second with a minute remaining and another hot lap in the tank for the Marc VDS machine.

Last minute challenges from Vierge and Roberts saw the pair advance the standings yet again, demoting Lowes to third as the session reached its thrilling conclusion. Vierge stole the pole in the dying seconds with a 1’38.936 from the frustrated American, with Gardner, Bezzecchi and Jorge Martin claiming the second row for the European GP.

Marini consolidated seventh alongside Lorenzo Baldassari and Hector Garzo while Nicolò Bulega, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Izdihar rounded out the top-12. Tom Luthi and Bendsneyder head a disappointing performance from Bastianini on row five with Marcel Schrotter, Syahrin and Simone Corsi concluding the top 18.

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