Remy Gardner took charge on the opening day of Moto2 testing in Qatar as limited running overshadowed proceedings.
Emulating his confidence after winning the final race of 2020, Gardner’s 1’59.074 lap saw him two-tenths ahead of the field after three hours at the Doha track. Aron Canet and Joe Roberts concluded Friday’s top-three after the quieter-than-expected sessions saw an average running of just 20 laps for the mid-weight class’ first official action of the year.
The test got off to a slow start after the teams were informed they were only to use one engine across the three days of testing and the opening two races - with each rider disappointed to be told not to exceed 600kms or approximately 111 laps of the Losail International Circuit this weekend.
Sam Lowes initially started his 2021 campaign as he means to go on, sitting at the head of the Moto2 standings as Friday’s Official test finally got up to speed for the closing 60-minute session. 1’59.745 was the benchmark time, set by Lowes on only his fifth lap, as Marcel Schrotter held the second spot with half an hour to go, ahead of Raul Fernandez, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Gardner.
Canet burst to the top of the times with 20 minutes remaining on the clock, four-tenths faster than Lowes’ previous best, with Gardner following suit, just 0.14 shy of the Italian, 8 minutes later. The Australian eventually completed the challenge on his penultimate lap of the day.
American, Roberts, put in a similar late effort to steal third from Lowes, with Nicolò Bulega and Xavi Vierge finding fifth and sixth respectively as they relegated Schrotter to seventh.
Augusto Fernandez claimed eighth on his 19th lap of the day narrowing holding off a seemingly well-recovered Jake Dixon, by just 0.002, as KTM’s Raul Fernandez rounded out the top-10.
Di Giannantonio and Tom Luthi were next, one-second separating the top-12, with Simone Corsi, Somkiat Chantra and Bo Bendsneyder claiming the top-15.