It was another successful showing for the Petronas SRT squad in Qatar today as Xavi Vierge topped the Moto2 standings with team-mate Jake Dixon an impressive fifth.
The young Brit seemed to be dealing well with his wrist injury as Moto2 testing resumed for the second day at the Losail International Circuit, with Dixon setting a 1’58.900 on his 11th of 14 laps.
As Saturday’s final 70 minute session got going it was Sam Lowes who set the pace with a 2’00 lap after five minutes on track. Bo Bendsneyder and Marco Bezzecchi both looked to challenge immediately as they demoted the Brit to third, before he hit back, repeatedly advancing his own times to hold court with a 1’59.211 by his fifth lap.
A team attack followed in the form of the KTM duo of Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner, with the pair claiming first and third either side of the Marc VDS man before Xavi Vierge joined the party, relegating Gardner in the process, with just 0.038 separating the top three and 30 minutes left on the clock.
With 13 minutes to go, Lowes looked to be back to his best as the timing screens fired up once again, unfortunately the 30-year-old went down in the final sector, cutting his hot lap off in its prime as he re-entered the pits.
Bezzecchi took the lead with eight minutes remaining as his pace edged closer to the 1’59 barrier, one tenth now the gap to second place Fernandez, but it was Jorge Navarro who made himself known as the man to watch. Breaking the barrier with a 1’58.888 the Speed Up rider would not be there for long, however, if the screens were to be believed.
Gardner increased his pace on the KTM once again as he moved to second with Dixon immediately following suit for third, an incredibly tight 0.012 margin separating the trio before the Brit’s Petronas teammate Vierge was back in charge, this time by just five-hundredths of a second, and 1’58.832 the time to beat.
A powerful lap from Aron Canet slid the Aspar rider into second in the closing moments with just Dixon looking to challenge as the flag came out. The lap however did not materialise and the Derby-resident settled for fifth at the close of play.
Bezzecchi sat sixth in the final standings ahead of Bendsneyder, Fernandez and a frustrated Lowes, with Joe Roberts holding 10th for his new Italtrans team. Tony Arbolino took 11th from Lowes’ teammate Augusto Fernandez with Ai Ogura, Stefano Manzi and Tom Luthi rounding out the top-15.
Hector Garzo finished 16th from Fabio Di Giannantonio and Simone Corsi with five-time MotoAmerica Champion Cameron Beaubier and 2020 Moto3 Champion Albert Arenas continuing their Moto2 debuts in 19th and 20th respectively.