MotoGP Assen: Roberts rules Moto2 on Friday

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Italtrans’ Joe Roberts completed Friday’s Moto2 action at the top of the times thanks to a 1’37.393 around the Assen TT Circuit.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Augusto Fernandez and Inde GasGas Aspar’s Albert Arenas completed the top three with both Brits Sam Lowes and Jake Dixon missing the mark after FP2 crashes.

The intermediate class action kicked off with Fermín Aldeguer in charge of the times with a 1’57.489 before Aron Canet, Roberts and Marcel Schrotter bettered for position in the sodden conditions. Local rider Zonta van der Goorbergh impressing on the RW Racing machine to take second with his fourth revolution before replacement rider Alex Toledo - in for Gabriel Rodrigo at Pertamina SAG - set the 1’55.3 pace.

Canet was back in charge of the Schrotter/Roberts trio after ten minutes with the Dutch rider bettering Gresini’s Filip Salac in the top five. Aldeguer returning to P1 on the MB Conveyors Speed Up as Canet bailed out of a red sector flyer and into pitlane.

Lowes kicked his Assen weekend off with a seventh place effort as his Elf Marc VDS teammate Tony Arbolino found fourth. Schrotter battling with the Speed Up out front while van der Goorbergh continued to challenge from third.

Americans Roberts and Cameron Beaubier sat fourth and fifth with 15 minutes dispatched until the Italtrans rider advanced again, to third. Schrotter improving the target to 1’50.682 as the halfway stage approached with Barry Baltus and Lowes now in the top six.

The halfway point found Beaubier at the top with the first 1’49 of the weekend and well over half a second clear of his closest rivals. Schrotter challenging by a tenth next time around with Roberts joining his compatriot in the top three moments later.

Baltus suffered a turn 12 crash in the closing 15 minutes after clipping the white line at speed. Schrotter, Arbolino and Roberts headed the session with the trio all on 1’48 pace from Alonso Lopez and Canet with the fallen Belgium sixth.

Opposing fortunes found Dixon circulating in 20th as the final ten minutes prepared. The Brit 3.5 seconds adrift of the overall target before a 1’48.746 saw the Aspar advance to fourth overall as Arbolino took charge once again, half a second ahead.

Late improvements found KTM Ajo’s Fernandez leading Honda Team Asia’s Somkiat Chantra in the top three before the Thai rider hit the top overall with a 1’47.695. Dixon bettering next time around by almost three-tenths as Lowes retuned to the top six. Arbolino challenged the GasGas rider’s dominance with three minutes to go as Dixon’s next effort sat just 0.079s shy of the Marc VDS with Aldeguer now in third.

Championship leader Celestino Vietti joined his Mooney VR46 teammate Niccolo Antonelli on the edge of the top 15 as the final minute counted down. Canet claiming the session with a 1’46.877 from Aldeguer, Fernandez and Chantra with Marc VDS’ Arbolino and Lowes locking out the top six. Dixon demoted to eighth in the closing seconds with Salac, Lopez and Ai Ogura completing the top ten.

Dixon took charge as the final afternoon action began with a 1’38.849 over Fernandez and Jorge Navarro. Schrotter and Marco Ramirez jointing the trio in the top five before Lopez and Arbolino bettered overall. Canet was missing from action after ten minutes of FP2 as the repeated nose bleeds that plagued him at the Sachsenring, following a recent car accident, continued to interfere with the Spaniard’s preparation.

Dixon was back at the top with his fifth lap as Arenas joined his Aspar teammate in the top three. Ajo’s Fernandez securing the first 1’37 of the weekend as Vietti and Ogura made an appearance in fourth and fifth.

Lowes slid the Marc VDS out at turn four with 25 minutes remaining having just claimed fourth overall on 1’38.4 pace. Roberts and Salac sitting second and third with Arenas and Dixon narrowly behind.

The 2020 Moto3 Champion took charge with a 1’37.569 at the halfway stage before Fernandez looked to strike back, falling two-tenths shy after a person best effort. Ogura a similar distance behind in third as Lowes, Vietti and Dixon dipped to the fringes of the top ten.

Gresini’s Alessandro Zaccone held the gateway position as the second half began. 1’38.775 the pace to beat for provisional promotion with Arbolino, Aldeguer and Beaubier so far adrift. Fernandez the next to crash out in the low grip conditions as turn five claimed the most recent race winner. Master Camp’s Manuel Gonzales the next to suffer having moved to ninth as the session neared its conclusion.

Dixon was out of the action and out of contention with three minutes to go after crashing out at the final chicane. Sean Dylan Kelly having suffered a highside at the same place a few minutes earlier with Canet back on track despite needing medical assistance on his broken nose.

The final push saw Fernandez improve his time and consolidate second as the chequered flag came out. Roberts in charge with a 1’37.393 with Arenas and Ogura third and fourth. Speed Up’s Aldeguer and Lopez completing today one in tandem from fifth and sixth ahead of Canet, Vietti, Navarro and Salac. Ramirez, Chantra, Arbolino and Zaccone completed the top 14 with Beaubier, Lowes and Dixon adrift in 16th, 18th and 20th respectively.

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