MotoGP Aragon #2: Lowes dominates Moto2 practice, Dixon eighth| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
A clear and sunny Motorland Aragon saw Sam Lowes shine brightly once again by dominating the majority of the three Spanish practice sessions ahead of the Teruel GP before completing FP3 at the head of the times and with another circuit record. Edgar Pons and Marcos Ramirez came closest to challenging the Marc VDS rider, with fellow Brit Jake Dixon concluding the session in eighth.
Lowes certainly started as he means to go on, staking his claim at the head of the times from the off and continuing to improve as the opening laps of Friday morning practice got underway. Last week’s challengers Luca Marini, Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio joined the Englishman as the battle for the top-four heated up but Lowes remained confident, answering with another impressive effort aboard his Marc VDS to break into the 1’52’s on his sixth lap.
A more sedate Dixon began his morning running on the fringes of the top-10, in a tightly packed session that saw the 14 fastest riders separated by just one second, before promoting his Petronas to fifth with 18 minutes to go.
The closing stages of FP1 saw Lowes continue to dominate, Augusto Fernandez improving to join him in the top-three with only Di Giannantonio separating the Marc VDS pair with five minutes left to play out before the Spaniard bested his teammate by just 0.134 to take the session with a 1’52.623. Di Giannantonio retained third ahead of the improving duo of Dixon and Joe Roberts, with Lorenzo Baldassari, Bezzecchi, Jorge Navarro, Remy Gardner and Marini rounding out the rapid top-10 ahead of current championship-leader Enea Bastianini in 11th.
The afternoon began in a similar vein as Lowes opened proceedings with an instantly rapid pace, the Brit setting a 1’52.050 on just his third lap to improve on the morning by over half a second, Pons and Hector Garzo sitting best of the rest after the first 10 minutes. A massive moment for Bezzecchi at turn 16 left the Sky VR46 rider briefly regrouping before he advanced his position to fifth, behind Marcel Schrotter, on his next revolution and again, to third, moments later.
A crash for Pons at the turn 8 corkscrew brought out the red flag with 25 minutes remaining and a quick clean up operation got underway.
Almost as soon as the session restarted, Bezzecchi lost the front at turn three, the frustrated Italian returning yet again to the pits as the track action began to heat up. Dixon rose to second, just 0.4 down on his compatriot before he was narrowly deposed by Garzo, with Gardner finding similar pace as he too advanced to the top-four ahead of Di Giannantonio. Bastianini and Bezzecchi circulating in seventh and eighth.
Friday’s final 10 minutes began with another red flag as Lowes went down in a similar style to Pons - the corkscrew gravel requiring clearing once again before the session could reach its conclusion - with Baldassarri falling at turn-2 as the action got going once again.
As the clock ticked down Lowes remained in control, his fourth-lap-best still the benchmark, as Navarro, Garzo and Roberts edged ever closer. The penultimate minute allowed Jorge Martin to advance to third before his time was deleted due to exceeding track limits, demoting him back to sixth and just 0.004 ahead of Dixon.
The chequered flag dropped with the Brit unbeaten, and the top-three unchanged. Di Giannantonio moved to fourth ahead of the American with Gardner, Nicolò Bulega and Pons rounding out the top-10. Bezzecchi, Fernandez, Hafizh Syahrin and Bastianini claimed the final Q2 positions overnight with Marini adrift in 23rd.
Saturday began with the announcement that MotoAmerica Champion Cameron Beaubier will join the Moto2 class for 2021, replacing Roberts in American Racing, after securing five national titles in the past six seasons.
On track and the Marc VDS duo continued their domination of the timesheets with Fernandez holding the session just short of his teammate’s overall fastest time as Lowes consistently circulated with impressive pace. Bezzecchi and Ramirez put on an equally strong performance in the opening half of FP3 to run the session in second and fourth respectively, the latter’s pace enough to promote him to eighth overall while his teammate, Roberts, unfortunately found the limit at turn 2 at the half-way stage, Tetsuta Nagashima having succumbed in similar style moments before.
With 12 minutes left to play, Lowes improved on his overall best to reclaim command on his 11th lap of the morning, breaking the benchmark yet again on his next attempt to sit almost four-tenths clear of his teammate with a 1’51.576 and another all-time lap record at the Spanish circuit.
As the session counted down, Pons rose to the challenge, sliding between the two Marc VDS riders to take second with six minutes to go, before Gardner and Garzo relegated Fernandez to fifth, Dixon also advanced his position to eighth in the combined standings as a struggling Marini continued to circulated outside the Q2 positions in 17th.
The final push saw Ramirez improve to third, behind Lowes and Pons, with Gardner, Garzo and Fernandez holding on to the top-six. Navarro, Martin, Bezzecchi and Dixon concluded the top-10 positions with Bastianini, Baldassari, Di Giannantonio and Roberts securing the final automatic promotions, Xavi Vierge, Bo Bendsneyder and Marini missing out and heading for Q1.