American Racing’s Joe Roberts set a new outright Moto2 lap record in the second free practice session in Qatar this afternoon.
The Kalex-equipped Californian put in a 1’58.421 to beat Lorenzo Baldassarri’s best on 1’58.635 set last year to lead the combined times by 0.248 from Marco Bezecchi with SKY VR46 team-mate Luca Marini in third.After topping free practice one earlier in the day, Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) had a tricky start to his FP2 after crashing at Turn 14 while on a session best lap – rider ok.
There were no such troubles for Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) though as the Japanese rider, who finished P11 in FP1, shot to the top of the times with the fastest lap of the weekend.
In the early stages, plenty of riders were beating their FP1 times, with Marini and Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) going well in the opening exchanges.
Having finished P4 in FP1, Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) then took over the P1 baton with around 25 minutes remaining. However, the Spaniard then suffered a crash at Turn 5 which ended his session early – rider ok.
There was plenty of movement on the times to come as Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) climbed to P3, with Marini then going P1 as he and Bezzecchi continued to work together under the floodlights, just as they did in the opening session. But the Italian stranglehold wouldn’t last long as there was an American express was turning up the wick.
Roberts was setting the timing screens alight and the number 16 went P1 with a new lap record in FP2, beating Marini by over three tenths. It was a phenomenal day for Roberts having picked up P5 in FP1, and the same can be said for SKY Racing Team VR46.
On the last lap, Bezzecchi would leapfrog ahead of Marini for P2 on the timesheets as the riders in P7 and P8 in FP1 claimed P2 and P3 in FP2.
Exactly half a second off Roberts’ time in P4 was Nagashima, a good improvement for the new Red Bull KTM Ajo recruit from FP1 to FP2, with Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) having a better afternoon to finish P5 overall, the Spaniard crashing in FP1.
Fernandez slipped to P6 after his FP2 tumble to end 0.653 off the pace, with Bendsneyder having a great FP2 to finish P7 overall on Day 1, the Dutchman claimed P18 after the opening session of 2020.
Now into his second year of Moto2™ action, Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) ended the day in P8, edging out both Bulega and second place FP1 finisher Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as the Spaniard slipped to P10, despite improving his time.
Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) suffered a spectacular highside on the exit of Turn 1 in FP2, the Australian headed to the medical centre for a checkup, with Lüthi crashing for the second time late in FP2. Turn 2 caught out the Swiss man this time as the FP1 pacesetter settled for P11 on the combined times.
Britain’s Sam Lowes put in some astounding times given his lack of testing and still-injured shoulder to finish in 20th and only 1.1s off the pace. Compatriot Jake Dixon, also crocked, was one-tenth and one place further back.