American Joe Roberts shocked the Moto2 paddock this afternoon when he set a new outright lap record for the Moto2 class at Qatar which saw him lead the combined timesheets by a quarter of a second.
The Californian, who is being coached by former MotoGP star John Hopkins, showed pace in the pre-season tests but demolished the pack in today’s second session with a 1’58.421, two tenths quicker than Lorenzo Baldassarri’s best from last year.
“To come from where I was last year to be breaking the lap record here and being first on the first day - I know it’s only practice but it’s such a nice feeling. I was celebrating like I’d won the race,” said Roberts, speaking at the track.
“It’s such a big deal because where we came from to now is a big step. I have to thank the whole American Racing team and everybody that has come on board to help me.
“My crew chief Lucio and John Hopkins, my manager Eitan and everybody has done such a great job to build me up to this level.
“John came on board for a lot of roles; to help prep my mind for the upcoming sessions or race. He’s also very perceptive and can look at the other riders out on track - honestly, I wouldn’t have done that lap if he hadn’t have told me a couple of things I needed to do differently in some corners.
“This championship is extremely hard and you’ve got to find the benefits where you can.”