Times began to fall almost immediately in the desert,Jonas Folger rode quick to secure the first 2016 Moto2 Pole Position ahead of rapid Sam Lowes and Alex Rins. Almost as soon as riders in the Moto2™ World Championship hit the Losail International Circuit, times began to plummet. Sam Lowes’ (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) best time from Friday practice, a new lap record, was bested by Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) on the German’s third lap.The top ten contenders were able to consistently lap in the 1’59s lap after lap, even as traffic increased towards the end of the session. As has been the trend in Moto2™ in recent years, early banker laps proved invaluable as two of the top three riders set their fastest time within their first five laps.
On pole for just the second time in his intermediate class career, Jonas Folger’s early lap proved unbeatable as the German set a new pole record with a 1’59.052. Folger’s previous pole came at the French GP in 2014, starting on the front row a further three times in 2015.
0.072s behind the German was Lowes, the Brit unable to repeat his 2015 pole but still improving his best time to a 1’59.124. Lowes will be looking to add to his five previous podium finishes in the intermediate class. Throughout the weekend Lowes has been quick over multiple laps as well as one offs, frequently setting his best times at the end of longer runs.
Completing the front row is Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), setting a 1’59.354 on his third lap. The Spaniard was unable to improve after he suffered a bike crunching crash at Turn 2, his Kalex tumbling through the gravel after losing the front. His team worked feverishly to repair the bike, sending him back out with just five minutes remaining.
Reigning Moto2™ World Champion, Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) wrestled his way up to fourth on his last lap, only 0.065s off a front row start. No defending Moto2™ champion has ever taken victory in the opening race of the year, the Frenchman aims to change that on Sunday.
Fifth was Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), the Italian initially struggling during testing and practice with his new team. But when it mattered the Italian was able to produce a 1’59.509 and end 0.457s back on pole. One thing is certain for Sunday’s race; Morbidelli’s aggressive all or nothing style will see him towards the front for at least part of the race.
Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team), Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team), Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Team Asia) and Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) completed the top ten.
There was an early involving both Luca Marini (Forward Team) and Ratthapark Wilairot (Idemitsu Team Asia) at Turn 16. Both were unhurt but Marini’s session was reduced to just five minutes.
Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) also suffered his second fall of the weekend at Turn 1. Rins was not the only victim of Turn 2, Lorenzo Baldassarri falling at the same corner with one minute remaining. Baldassarri was taken to the medical centre for checks after his crash. He was declared unfit due to dislocating both his shoulders.
The first race of the year will take place at 19:20 Local Time for the Moto2™ World Championship on Sunday the 20th of March. With the top five split by half a second, who will win is still anyone’s guess.
(Report Credit: MotoGP.com)