Vierge snatches mixed condition Moto2™ pole
Slick tyres were used in Q2 as the Spaniard picks up his first pole of the season; Roberts and Lowes on Row 1, Bastianini 15th
On a drying Circuit Ricardo Tormo that saw the Moto2™ riders attack Q2 with slick tyres, Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) produced the goods to bag his first pole position of the season. The Spaniard’s last lap was good enough to see him beat Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) by just under two tenths, with Championship leader Sam Lowes a further 0.002 back in P3. The British rider’s main title rival Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) will start from 15th.
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Round 13: Moto2™ Q2 at the European Grand Prix
Fellow Championship contender Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) had progressed through a Q1 session that saw a dry line appear in Valencia, and because of this, slick Dunlop tyres were being used but there were still some very wet parts of the track. It was by no means a fully dry qualifying session for the intermediate class.
Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) was fastest after the first flurry of laps but as everyone got heat into their tyres and started to work out where they could push, the lap times tumbled. Roberts set a 1:44.604 to sit on provisional pole with eight minutes to go but once more, the time wouldn’t be quickest for long. Vierge was the first man into the 1:43s as Lowes slotted into P2, three tenths off the Spaniard.
Bezzecchi then went back to P1 with Roberts going a tad slower to take P2, but Lowes went quicker than the lot of them to go top by three tenths. Again though, the lead changed. Roberts once more took provisional pole and this time, Lowes didn’t beat his time – but it was close between the Brit and American. Meanwhile, Bastianini was late coming out of the pitlane and was down in P9 with just under three minutes remaining.
Red sectors for Bezzecchi, Roberts and Lowes lit up the screens, the latter was on a different planet though. A 1:39.790 saw the Championship leader soar to 1.1 seconds clear of anyone else, a stunning time from Lowes who was decimating the competition – again. The gap was soon cut though, Vierge went P2 but Lowes was in ruthless form and set a 1:39.353 to go seven tenths ahead.
However, this was far from over. Bezzecchi, Roberts, Vierge, Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) and Lowes all had red sectors. Roberts went pole but then Vierge demoted the American to second almost immediately. Could Lowes respond to get back on top? Not this time! Lowes stayed third despite improving his time and this meant Vierge claimed pole position in Valencia, his first since the 2019 Argentina GP and just his second front row start of the season. Second place Roberts and third place Lowes were split by a slender 0.002 seconds as the duo finish just under two tenths off pole position. Another front row start for the number 22 sees Lowes start as the highest placed title contender.
Gardner spearheads the second row in P4, the Aussie lines up just 0.033 seconds ahead of fifth place Bezzecchi. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completes the second row in P6 as the front two rows are split by 0.520 seconds, with seventh place Marini 1.3 seconds back from pole. The newly announced 2021 Ducati rider needs a big result on Sunday to keep tabs on Lowes and Bastianini in the title race, and P7 isn’t a bad job by the Italian. Flexbox HP 40 teammates Lorenzo Baldassarri and Hector Garzo pick up P8 and P9 respectively, Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) closed out the top 10.
Bastianini produced a miraculous save in Q2, but a P15 starting position could be disastrous for his title chances with Lowes on the front row. The Beast was 3.7 seconds off in the 15-minute stint but we’ve seen Bastianini cement and podium place from outside the top 10 before this year, so it’s by no means over for the Italian at the European GP.
Tune in for a crucial Moto2™ encounter at 12:20 local time (GMT+1).
1. Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) – 1:38.936
2. Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) + 0.181
3. Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 0.183
4. Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) + 0.439
5. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.472
6. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.520
7. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 1.328
8. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) + 1.674
9. Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) + 2.032
10. Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 2.545