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MotoGP Valencia: Lowes chases Bastianini as Dixon breaks wrist

Enea Bastianini stole Friday’s Moto2 honours by just half a tenth from Britain’s Sam Lowes, with a 1’36.804 on his penultimate lap of FP2, after the Marc VDS rider crashed out of the closing stages of the afternoon’s dry practice.

A determined ride from Joe Roberts gave the American third in the combined standings while a promising start for Jake Dixon was cut dramatically short and a turn four crash left the Petronas rider with a fractured wrist.

Challenging morning conditions saw Lowes initially circulating in the mid-teens before his confidence with the Marc VDS machine on the wet surface saw him rise to the top once again, setting a 1’50.066 on his sixth lap to head the standings from Hafizh Syahrin and Hector Garzo. ‘The Fish’ broke the 1’50 barrier on his next revolution as the times began to heat up with the duo repeatedly matching times as the session continued.


A turn 14 crash for the already injured Augusto Fernandez saw the Spaniard dispatched while sitting 16th at the 22 minute-mark, while Luca Marini and Dixon had failed to set a time by the halfway stage - the Italian on track but circulating tentatively while the Brit chose to remain stationary in the Petronas garage for the entire 40-minute session.

With the majority of the class back in the pits ahead of their second run, it was Tom Luthi who had control of the times - a second faster than Lowes’ earlier effort - from Garzo and Syahrin, Lowes sitting fourth ahead of Marco Bezzecchi and Stefano Manzi. The high-flying Swiss later defeated by turn six on his 13th lap as the closing 15-minutes began but with his time remaining unbeaten.

Late charges in the final five-minutes allowed Bezzecchi to hit the top-four, Aron Canet finding similar form as he joined the fight in sixth before advancing further to third with Nicolò Bulega heading Enea Bastianini, Lorenzo Baldassari and Joe Roberts at the tail of the top-10.

Three accidents in a matter of moments saw early baths for Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Somkiat Chantra before a nasty crash at turn 14 left Syahrin visibly suffering with just two minutes to go.

No rain across the afternoon presented a patchy but mostly dry track as the final practice got going. Dixon headed out for his first glimpse of the Ricardo Tormo circuit and comfortably entered the Q2 times on his opening attempt as countrymen Lowes again hit the top. Quickly getting up to speed, the Petronas rider soon joined him, in second, on his fourth lap but elation soon turned to despair as Dixon hit the deck in dramatic style moments later, the young Brit clutching his wrist as he navigated his exit from the gravel trap at turn four.

The opening 10 minutes of FP2 dispatched, Lowes continued to command the times in dominant style, sitting over a second clear of Luthi and showing no signs of slowing as Jorge Martin, Marcel Schrotter and Bezzecchi squabbled for position in the top-five. Roberts joined the party at the halfway stage, claiming second from Luthi by a tenth, as Baldassari and Fabio Di Giannantonio also improved to fourth and sixth respectively.

The final 10 minutes began with a crash at turn eight for a frustrated Lowes, the number 22 sliding out of the action while heading the times by over four tenths from Roberts and Chantra, before Baldassari narrowed the gap to just 0.1s. Roberts returned to second with two to go, as Garzo and Remy Gardner advanced the times to sit fourth and fifth before Bastianini finally took charge at the top, beating Lowes by a mere 0.057.

A last minute push from Roberts looked promising but failed to promote him from third at the flag, Baldassari, Di Giannantonio and Gardner rounding out the top-six ahead of Martin, Simone Corsi, Garzo and Bezzecchi. Marini made slow progress as the day unfolded but ultimately fell short of the Q2 cutoff by just two hundredths at the close of play.

Syahrin retired from the afternoon session after just three laps due to injuries sustained in his FP1 crash while Kasma Daniel failed to appear in either of Friday’s sessions.

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