Moto2: Joe Roberts Breaks Lap Record, Leads FP2 In Qatar (Updated)

Moto2: Joe Roberts Breaks Lap Record, Leads FP2 In Qatar (Updated)

© 2020, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

Moto2 All-Time Lap Record: 1:58.635, Lorenzo Baldassarri, 2019

Moto2 Race Lap Record: 1:58.711, Thomas Luthi, 2019

FIM Moto2 World Championship 

Losail International Circuit

Doha, Qatar

March 6, 2020

Free Practice Two Results (all using Triumph engines and Dunlop tires):

  1. Joe Roberts, USA (Kalex), 1:58.421, New All-Time Lap Record
  2. Marco Bezzecchi, Italy (Kalex), 1:58.669
  3. Luca Marini, Italy (Kalex), 1:58.759
  4. Tetsuta Nagashima, Japan (Kalex), 1:58.921
  5. Xavi Vierge, Spain (Kalex), 1:59.059
  6. Augusto Fernandez, Spain (Kalex), 1:59.074
  7. Bo Bendsneyder, Netherlands (NTS), 1:59.089
  8. Enea Bastianini, Italy (Kalex), 1:59.114
  9. Nicolo Bulega, Italy (Kalex), 1:59.136
  10. Jorge Martin, Spain (Kalex), 1:59.148
  11. Jorge Navarro, Spain (Speed Up), 1:59.189
  12. Marcel Schrotter, Germany (Kalex), 1:59.198
  13. Lorenzo Baldassarri, Italy (Kalex), 1:59.237
  14. Aron Canet, Spain (Speed Up), 1:59.278
  15. Fabio Di Giannantonio, Italy (Speed Up), 1:59.284
  16. Somkiat Chantra, Thailand (Kalex), 1:59.290
  17. Remy Gardner, Australia (Kalex), 1:59.434
  18. Edgar Pons, Spain (Kalex), 1:59.486
  19. Sam Lowes, UK (Kalex), 1:59.561
  20. Jake Dixon, UK (Kalex), 1:59.641
  21. Marcos Ramirez, Spain (Kalex), 1:59.709
  22. Simone Corsi, Italy (MV Agusta), 1:59.839
  23. Hector Garzo, Spain (Kalex), 2:00.020
  24. Stefano Manzi, Italy (MV Agusta), 2:00.160
  25. Jesko Raffin, Switzerland (NTS), 2:00.183
  26. Thomas Luthi, Switzerland (Kalex), 2:00.262
  27. Hafizh Syahrin, Malaysia (Speed Up), 2:00.396
  28. Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Italy (Kalex), 2:00.804
  29. Andi Farid Izdihar, Indonesia (Kalex), 2:01.265
  30. Kasma Daniel Kasmaudi, Malaysia (Kalex), 2:02.886



More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Roberts lights up the desert to break the lap record on Day 1

American Racing rider starts the season in the hot seat with a stunning show of form on Friday

Friday, 06 March 2020

After some impressive form in preseason testing at Losail International Circuit, Joe Roberts (American Racing) came out swinging on Day 1 of the QNB Grand Prix of Qatar and smashed the lap record in FP2 to end Friday on top. The American was nearly two and a half tenths clear of his closest competition, Marco Bezzecchi, with Luca Marini in third as Sky Racing Team VR46 riders completed the top three.

Free Practice 1 in the sun began with Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) topping the timesheets, but the Swiss veteran had a tricky start to 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, and he remained near the top by the end of play too. In the early stages, plenty of riders were beating their FP1 times, and by the end all those down to Lüthi in 11th overall had gone faster. The Swiss rider also suffered a second crash and headed for the Medical Centre – rider fit.

By the end of the shuffle it was Roberts who moved up from having taken fifth in FP1, the American blasting the lap record and Bezzecchi then moving up to second on his final lap. Marini took third, less than a tenth off his teammate, with Nagashima pushed down to P4.

Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) had a better afternoon to finish P5 overall, the Spaniard having crashed in FP1, and FP2 crasher Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) slipped to P6 after his tumble ended his session early. Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) had a great FP2 to finish P7 overall on Day 1, the Dutchman moving up from P18 in FP1 and putting in one of NTS’ best sessions to date.

Now into his second year of Moto2™, Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) ended the day in P8 despite a crash, edging out compatriot and fellow sophomore Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2). Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who was second in FP1, slipped to tenth despite  marginally improving his laptime – but he did clock the fastest ever Moto2™ speed at Losail: 296.7km/h.

Lüthi was P11, ahead of the Qatar Test’s fastest man: Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up), who crashed on Day 1 too. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) was next fastest, ahead of Aron Canet (Aspar Team), with the Spaniard the fastest rookie once again – and currently the last man who would move through to Q2.

Remy Gardner (Onexox TKKR SAG Team) suffered a spectacular highside on the exit of Turn 1 in FP2, the Australian heading to the medical centre for a checkup, and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) was another high profile crasher on Friday.

Moto2™ is set to light up Qatar again on Saturday as Roberts heads a top 18 split by less than a second. What a way to start the year in the intermediate class as qualifying starts to rear its head on the Doha horizon. Tune in for Moto2™ FP3 at 13:50 local time (GMT+3), with Q1 getting underway at 18:00.


1 – Joe Roberts – (American Racing) – Kalex – 1’58.421

2 – Marco Bezzecchi – (Sky Racing Team VR46) – Kalex – +0.248

3 – Luca Marini – (Sky Racing Team VR46) – Kalex – +0.338

4 – Tetsuta Nagashima – (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – Kalex – +0.500

5 – Xavi Vierge – (Petronas Sprinta Racing) – Kalex – +0.638


Fernandez flies to the top on Friday

Spanish sophomore ends Day 1 just shy of the lap record

The wait is over and Moto3™ are officially back in action at the QNB Grand Prix of Qatar, with Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) the man opening his 2020 account on top. The pace was pretty hot on Day 1 as the Spaniard ended Friday just 0.019 shy of Aron Canet’s lap record at Losail International Circuit, with Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) in second but a tenth back. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0), our most recent race winner until the grid have a chance to try and change the fact on Sunday, completed the top three after also having gone fastest in FP1.

Friday saw sun blaze throughout the day and a little less wind than had plagued the venue at times during the recent test, and it was largely a drama-free affair with most of the field improving their laptimes in a duskier FP2. The timesheets promise plenty from the race, however, with the speed already there on Day 1 as Fernandez homed in on that lap record – and only a tenth and a half separating the top three. In addition, the previous top speed in Moto3™ fell by the wayside as Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) upped it from 240.3km/h to 245.4.

Fourth went the way of Honda Team Asia’s Ai Ogura, who was second fastest in testing in Qatar, as he moved up the timesheets on his final attempt and got ahead of compatriot Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – last year’s race winner. He was the last man in the 2:04s, with Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) putting in a 2’05.227 for sixth.

Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) was seventh and improved a whopping 1.7 seconds from his FP1 time, with Masia in P8 and over a second quicker in FP2 than his previous best. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) was only 0.016 back from the Spaniard as he leapt up the timesheets and put his Husqvarna in ninth on the manufacturer’s return to the class, with Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) completing the top ten – a familiar sight so far – as fastest rookie. The Turkish rider was only 0.007 off Fenati, too.

John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was close too as the Scot took P11, with Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) slotting into 12th. Rookies Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) and Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Racing) provisionally claimed the final Q2 spots in 13th and 14th place, but anything can change again in FP3…

Migno and Albert Arenas (Aspar Team) were both crashers in FP1, but nobody slipped off during the second session of the day for the lightweight class. Now all focus switches to Saturday’s FP3 session and the fight to earn a place directly in Q2, which in Moto3™ is reserved for the fastest 14. via the top 14. Tune in as that begins at 12:55 (GMT+3) local time before qualifying starts at 17:05.


1 – Raul Fernandez – (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – KTM – 2’04.577

2 – Darryn Binder – (CIP Green Power) – KTM – +0.121

3 – Sergio Garcia – (Estrella Galicia 0,0) – Honda – +0.146

4 – Ai Ogura – (Honda Team Asia) – Honda – +0.345

5 – Kaito Toba – (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – KTM – +0.411




More, from a press release issued by Red Bull KTM Tech3:

Öncü kicks off 2020 impressively with a top 10 – Sasaki is catching up in Qatar

Red Bull KTM Tech3’s brand-new Moto3 adventure got off a flying at the Losail International Circuit today with Moto3 World Championship rookie Deniz Öncü finishing the first Grand Prix Friday in a fantastic 10th position as the fastest rookie and inside the potential Q2 spots for Qualifying day. Meanwhile, Ayumu Sasaki took it easy this morning, but improved by 1.297 seconds in FP2 to eventually end day one at school this year 0.915 seconds behind his teammate.

Deniz Öncü

Position: 10th

Time: 2:05.355

Laps: 24

“Today has been a great day. Free Practice one was fine, we improved in every lap, but in FP2 I was struggling quite a lot to see the track, as the sun was just going down and this reflected a lot. I was riding in these conditions for the very first time, therefore, it was hard to put the bike inside of the corners, but towards the end, it was darker and easier to see for me, plus I adapted better to the conditions. We put in a new tyre and I managed to do a great lap time. I think we are ready for tomorrow’s Qualifying.”

Ayumu Sasaki

Position: 26th

Time: 2:06.270

Laps: 23

“To be honest, it was a difficult first day. We tried a few things in order to improve from the test, as we needed to do something different, starting from zero again. I needed to get used to the bike again, aiming to improve with every outing and it worked out. Unfortunately, we are still a bit far away from the front, so we know what the target is. We managed to improve by more than one second from FP1 to FP2, so if we can do the same tomorrow, I think we can catch the rest. At the moment, I try to understand and work on myself and the bike. Hopefully we can come back stronger tomorrow and arrive towards the front on Sunday.”




More, from a press release issued by Sky Racing Team VR46:


Important step forward for the Moto3 couple in the afternoon session. Migno is seventh and Vietti Rumus 12th in the combined standings.

Doha (Qatar), March 6th 2020 – An FP1 to catch the rhythms of the first race weekend of 2020 and a significant chronometric step forward in the afternoon session for both riders of the Sky Racing Team VR46 in Doha at Qatar GP.

Teamwork and work on the race pace with Andrea Migno who stops at 2’05.287, a time that means the seventh place in the combined rankings just seven tenths behind the very first guys (Fernandez, 2’04.577). Close to the Top 10 and qualified for the Q2 also Celestino Vietti Ramus who signs a best lap time of 2’05.502.

Pablo Nieto, Team Manager: 

“We have started the GP with the right foot: a lot of work and an important step forward compared to the IRTA test. This was our main goal for today. We will continue like this, step by step we are taking more and more confidence.”

Celestino Vietti:

“Definitely a positive Friday: compared to my standards of the last season, I am closer to the group at the end of the first day of free practices. The feeling with the bike is good: this morning, in FP1, we have tried some new solutions while in FP2 we managed to make an excellent last run with Andrea (Migno ed). We will continue to push, there are many strong riders and we still need a little step forward for tomorrow.”

Andrea Migno:

“As always, thanks to the Team, every time we back on track, we are able to improve. Step by step, we are coming to the right bike set up to be fast. For the QP we need another small step forward, but I’m happy.”




More, from a press release issued by Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:

Fernandez and heroic Lowes kick off 2020 in impressive fashion

Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS kicked off preparations for the new 2020 Moto2 World Championship in Doha with a productive day for Augusto Fernandez, while the Belgian squad welcomed back Sam Lowes from an injury lay-off.

Cloudless skies and warm temperatures were ideal conditions for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS to work on finding the optimum machine set-up in this season’s first official practice session this afternoon.

With the second session taking place under the spectacular Losail International Circuit floodlights, Fernandez and a strong-minded Lowes were able post competitive lap times in a record-breaking FP2.

Augusta Fernandez

6th, 1:59.074, 24 laps

After a successful three-day test session at the Losail International Circuit last weekend, Fernandez wasted no time in finding a fast rhythm in FP1 and a lap of 1’59.253 put him fourth and just 0.085s away from the best pace set by Tom Lüthi.

Concentrating on setting a fast and consistent pace in race trim ahead of Sunday’s 20-lap race, Fernandez showed great potential on worn tyres to set the sixth fastest time of the evening with a 1’59.074.

The Spaniard was confident he could make another big step but a crash from which he emerged uninjured prevented him from completing a planned time attack on soft rubber.

“The work we have been doing so far has been very positive.
“I’m happy with the first day because we made a big step in every area compared to the test. My feeling on the bike is much better and the lap time was good and I’m satisfied with my pace. It was a shame we missed the chance to complete a time attack because of the crash. I’m sorry to the team because the work we have been doing so far has been very positive but we missed the chance to push for a fast lap. I’m happy though because my fastest lap was set on a rear tyre that was on its 23rd lap, which is positive for the race. And I’m sure if I had the chance to push hard for a fast lap I’d be higher up.”

 Sam Lowes

 20th, 1:59.561, 24 laps

Although well below his peak physical best because of multiple injuries to his right shoulder sustained in a pre-season accident in Jerez, Lowes performed with tremendous determination and desire to demonstrate his potential on the opening day in Doha.

Riding in considerable pain and coping with a lack of strength and mobility, Lowes completed 12 laps around the physically demanding 5.4km layout in FP1 and a further 12 laps in FP2.

The Briton’s pain-defying performance was rewarded this evening and he improved his pace by the huge margin of 1.5s to finish day one in 20th position overall.

“I’m proud of myself and the team with the job we did today.
“It has been a tough time with the injury and it is not easy to miss testing and watch everybody else ride. I was unlucky to get a big injury from a very small crash and it has been a difficult period but I saw Augusto do a very good job at the test and that meant the team had a strong base to work with. I want to say thanks to him and the team and I feel good. I was nervous this morning because I didn’t know what was possible. I might have had to stop after just one lap, so I’m proud of myself and the team with the job we did today. I think we can improve and make another step forward tomorrow.”




More, from a press release issued by Sky Racing Team VR46:


Together on track for the whole day Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini have hit the second and the third place in the combined standings.

Doha (Qatar), March 6th 2020 – A Friday of free practice as protagonists for the riders of the Sky Racing Team VR46 in Losail. Team work to give the rhythm to the group with Marco Bezzecchi second and Luca Marini third at the end of the day.

Sharing data and information to raise the level and reach a best lap time of 1’58.669, a time that means the second place for Marco, at his debut with the Team’s colors and in the wake of Roberts (1’58.421). Just a tenth behind him Luca (1’58.759) satisfied with the feeling with his Kalex and at work on the engine brake.

Pablo Nieto, Team Manager:

“I am satisfied with what we have done today: a good Team work that allowed us to keep a good pace. But the weekend is still long, we need to remain focused.”

Luca Marini:

“I am quite satisfied: in the FP2 we used new tires to be more performing on the flying lap and we made a great Team work with Marco (Bezzecchi ndr). The feeling is good, but we have to improve in braking, on the engine brake and in the T2. Compared to the testing session, the grip on the track is different and there is no wind.”

Marco Bezzecchi:

“It was a good start: a great job with Luca and with the whole Team. We try to raise the level by sharing info, but we have to work hard and take a step forward on the first few laps of tires because we are not perfect.”




More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Sprinta Racing:

Moto3 season underway for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing in Qatar

Moto3 season underway for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing riders John McPhee and Khairul Idham Pawi in Qatar

The 2020 Moto3 World Championship got underway today for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing riders John McPhee and Khairul Idham Pawi, at Losail International Circuit, Qatar. At the end of the two Free Practice sessions McPhee finished 11th fastest, with team-mate KIP 25th.

Despite the dust that had been blowing over the track in the last few days, the circuit staff had been able to brush and blow the majority of it away leaving the Moto3 riders a mostly clean track for their opening session of the day. Both McPhee and KIP were quick to get out on the 5.4km long circuit and officially start their weekend with John setting a best lap time of 2mins 6.219 secs and KIP a 2mins 7.337secs lap.

The second free practice session saw the riders run with soft tyres on their Honda NSF250RW machines as the temperatures were lower and conditions more representative of what they will face in the race on Sunday. McPhee was immediately quick and soon set times that were quicker than the fastest lap in FP1. At the end of the second practice session the Scot had managed a best lap time of 2mins 5.383secs, which placed him 11th in the combined standings across the two sessions. Improving his time to 2mins 6.117secs, KIP finished the day 25th as he makes his return to the Moto3 category.

Tomorrow the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing pair will have one final practice session at 12.55pm local time (17.55am MYT) before the first qualifying session gets underway at 5.05pm local time (10.05pm MYT).

John McPhee

11th (2’05.383)

The pace is decent, especially with the used tyre, so I’m feeling good. I did my lap with the soft tyre alone so there’s still quite a bit of time there to be made with a tow and a slipstream. With the lap time I’d hoped to be a little bit further up the grid but there’s a lot of guys putting really fast times in so we’ll see how FP3 goes tomorrow, but the main focus is to get into Q2. The last few days there’s been a bit of a sandstorm so I thought FP1 would be more or less a write off, but in the end it was quite decent. The lap times towards the end of the session were quite fast and in FP2 were a lot faster than what we’d expected. Of course testing is important but it’s so nice to get away from that and actually now focus on a race weekend. I’m really looking forward to Sunday.

Khairul Idham Pawi

25th (2’06.117)

I feel really happy to be back at the races. There are still some areas I can improve with the Moto3 bike, I just lose some time in the beginning of the corner under braking so we will try to fix that for tomorrow. It is not a big difference compared with John and I think we can improve more. The track conditions are better than the last test here; there is less wind and there is more grip. For tomorrow we will try to improve the lap time and try to go directly to Q2, if not we will try to make a good lap in Q1 and be in a good position for the race on Sunday.




More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Sprinta Racing:

Top-five Moto2 finish for Vierge on first day of Qatar GP

Top-five Moto2 finish for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing’s Vierge on first day of Qatar GP, Dixon 21st

The first day of the Qatar GP saw PETRONAS Sprinta Racing’s Xavi Vierge set the fifth fastest time across the two Moto2 free practice sessions, with team-mate Jake Dixon 21st. With the MotoGP category cancelled for this opening round, the Moto2 riders have had to adapt to different track conditions to what was expected, with their race on Sunday moved to the primetime slot that MotoGP had occupied.

Vierge started the day with a small crash at Turn 6 of the Losail International Circuit, but was able to remount and ride his bike back to the garage before continuing with the session just minutes later. Using the first session to reconfirm settings from the final pre-season test Xavi was able to set a fastest lap of 1min 59.789secs (placing him 16th), while team-mate Dixon’s fastest lap was 2mins 0.356 secs saw him end the session 25th.

The second session of the day, which allowed the riders to experience similar conditions to what is expected in Sunday’s race, saw the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing pair focus on using the soft tyre. Xavi spent the majority of the session lapping within the top-ten, with a strong race pace, before saving his best time for his last lap – a 1min 59.059secs lap, which placed him fifth overall and was just 0.138 seconds shy of the fastest Moto2 rider. Dixon, who is still feeling the effects of a minor injury to his finger, was able to rack up the laps and further adapt his style to the Triumph-powered Kalex machine. The Brit finished the day 21st with a fastest time of 1min 59.641.

The final practice session for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing’s Moto2 riders will see the pair take to the circuit at 1.50pm local time (6.50pm MYT) with the first qualifying session commencing at 6pm local time (11pm MYT).

Xavi Vierge

5th (1’59.059)

I’m really happy with the first day. First I have to say sorry for my mistake in the second lap of FP1, but I think we did a really good job. From FP1 to FP2 we work a lot on the bike because the crash this morning was under engine braking. So we work really hard to improve that area and in the second session I feel a lot better, we could work on the pace and make a good lap time. I’m quite happy with fifth position. Tomorrow we will try to be in Q2, I think with the lap time we did today we will be in there and secondly I will try to have a good qualifying result, try to stay within the first two rows.

Jake Dixon

21st (1’59.641)

It was good, although the hot conditions this morning weren’t really relevant to the conditions that we will qualify and race in. This evening was good because it was at the exact same time as the race, and it’s actually the first time we’ve had this even with testing. It was good to understand what we need to do to improve. There are still things to learn and I’ve been a little bit slower than what I wanted, but at the end of the day when all the pieces of the puzzle come together I know I can be fast. It’s just a matter of time and going through the process to make sure we’re working in a correct way for the race and give the team the best result I can.




More, from a press release issued by Team Federal Oil Gresini:


The first two free practice sessions of the 2020 season have been completed today at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, with the middleweight class involved in two completely different sessions, as the latter one was held under floodlights.

Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 had a good showing especially with Nicolò Bulega, who was ninth-quickest today (1’59.136s). The Italian, who was among the most active riders on track with 28 laps completed (15 in FP1 and 13 in FP3) was only 0.7secs shy of Roberts’s provisional pole, but also only two tenths of a second away from the top five.

Good feeling also for Edgar Pons. The Spaniard finished 19thin today’s combined times (1’59.486secs), but the top ten is already within reach. The number 57 made several set-up changes during FP2 and tomorrow he will try to be among the protagonists and maybe play his cards to qualify directly to Q2.

Moto2 FP3 will get underway at 13:50 local time (GMT +3).

9th –  NICOLÒ BULEGA #11

“It hasn’t been a bad start. Honestly, we already have a clear idea on what to improve and in particular I mean corner entry, because the bike “pushes” a bit, but I’m sure we’ll get there. If we solve this little issue I can say we could be part of the game, the big one.”

19th –  EDGAR PONS #57

“It was a positive day, even though I was hoping for something more in FP2. In any case, we’re close to the top riders and the overall position is not that important, even though it wasn’t what we hoped for. We will go back and try to improve a few tenths of a second, which can really make a difference in this class. With all the team support we will surely improve tomorrow.”

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