Ajo Motorsport rider Johann Zarco was the man to beat after he was fastest on track during day one of the race meeting in cool conditions. The sun was out and temperatures increasing which meant tyre worries for the 600cc class.
Hard day at the office for Luthi
It has been an extremely eventful day for Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex rider Thomas Luthi. He stormed to the top of the leaderboard during the final Free Practice session (3) with his fastest lap so far, but did not remain at the top for long as Forward Racing Team rider Lorenzo Baldassarri stole it from him with his time of 2:02.041.
Not long into the session Luthi crashed out at turn eleven straight after completing his fastest lap. This corner has undergone modifications since last year when MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha catapulted through the gravel and over the tyre wall landing in the perimeter road. An extra fence had been put in place since to catch any bikes that may have decided to copy.
Before the session had gotten underway, as the MotoGP Free Practice session came to an end, drops of rain had began to fall. It stopped in time for the session began for the Moto2 class. Luthi lost the front after just touching the white line and slid into the gravel.
His bike began to catapult and then ended up flying over the fence again despite the precautions that were put in place to prevent this. Luckily Luthi was ok, and the Marshal who had managed to escape; but Luthi’s bike had definitely seen better days.
More crashes followed
Ten minutes into the session Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) crashed at the fast turn one ten minutes. Luckily he was also to walk away unhurt from the incident.
With just over 20 minutes of the session remaining there was another major crash from Baldassarri at turn fourteen. The Italian limped away after he became tangled with bike that flipped through the gravel.
As he came into fourteen the front of his bike tucked early, the front end came round allowing the rear tyre to get grip on the tarmac and threw it forward onto the front wheel (which was now turned). This caused the bike to flip and then it catapulted into the gravel taking Baldassarri with him.
Baldassarri remained the man to beat
Despite his crash, Baldassarri remained the man to beat at the end of FP3 as no one was able to come near his time. He finished fastest ahead of Dynavolt Intact GP rider Jonas Folger and Luthi who remained in third after his crash.
British rider Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was fourth fastest ahead of Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) in fifth. Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team), Hafitzh Syharin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia), Zarco and Leopard Racing teammates Miguel Oliveira and Danny Kent completed the top ten; all aboard a Kalex.
Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) was the fastest Speed Up bike in seventeenth and Isaac Vinales (Tech 3 Racing) was the fastest Tech 3 bike in twenty-fifth.
Anthony West (Montaze Broz Racing Team) is making a wildcard appearance aboard a Suter this round and finished the final Free Practice session in last place (twenty-ninth).
Dramatic qualifying for the Moto2 class
At the start of qualifying for the Moto2 class, Marquez set the fastest time of 2:01.831 so far, beating the Circuit Lap Record set by Tito Rabat in 2014, but not the Best Lap set by Zarco in 2015.
His time was 0.131 seconds quicker than that of Baldassarri in FP3. Lowes had saved soft compound tyres for Qualifying and the last time he did that was when he secured a front row start.
Another crash for Baldassarri
Unfortunately for Baldassarri, he crashed again, this time at turn 13. The back end of his Kalex came round this time and threw him off, the bike landed at turn 14.
He was in eighteenth at the time of the crash, and the rush was on to get back to the pits with the bike (he was assisted by the Marshals) so he could return to the track and improve on his grid position.
The temperatures were continuing to increase as they reached up to 53 degrees meaning riders struggled to improve lap times during the session. Brno is an old circuit and like any other tyres, the Dunlop tyres can only manage so much.
But then Marquez was back on the pace with just six minutes remaining; his lap looked to be promising as he had the fastest two first sectors so far, but then could only manage a personal best on the remainder of the lap. He was about to continue when the red flag was waved to end the session with five minutes remaining.
Two incidents had occurred on track
Two incidents had occurred on track but it was Luthi’s second crash of the day that led to the session being red-flagged. The German rider crashed at turn nine, he experienced a huge highside and became tangled up with the bike. The session had to be stopped as he required medical assistance.
His bike was left at the side of the track as the marshals assisted the medics by putting him on a stretcher and placing him in the ambulance. Later race control that Luthi was OK but that he was taken to the local hospital for further examinations. Luthi was said to be conscious throughout.
The other incident that taken place before the red flag involved Dynavolt Intact GP rider Sandro Cortese. He crashed at turn eight just before the flag went out, his bike flew into the gravel trap hitting the barrier, and Cortese was saved by the airbags in his leathers. He was able to walk away from the incident.
Riders returned to track for remainder of the session
When the remained of the Moto2 qualifying got underway, it was not long before another incident occurred on track. This time Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) crashed at turn one as he started his first flying lap. He was unhurt but had no time to do anything more in the few minutes that remained in the session.
His crash meant that there were yellow flags waved at the start of the circuit meaning those riders who got a later start had to take it easy as they began their final challenges for grid positions.
Battle right up to the end for pole position
Just 20 seconds remained and Zarco claimed pole from Marquez; Lowes was also on the pace and was in third. Both Zarco and Lowes had crossed the line before the flag which meant they were in time to complete one more flying lap, and that they did.
Lowes was leading ahead of Zarco on track, the British rider crossed the line first and stole pole position briefly before Zarco’s final lap of the session of 2:01.581, which was just 0.033 seconds slower quicker than Lowes, was enough to secure pole position for the Frenchman.
(And so I deleted the picture of the Marquez brothers as we would not be celebrating a double pole from the duo in MotoGP and Moto2 today).
Zarco on pole for the 2016 Czech Moto2
Zarco will start the 2016 Czech Moto2 from pole position ahead of Lowes and Marquez completes the front row in third on the grid. Idemitsu Honda Team Asia rider Takaaki Nakagami was fourth quickest ahead of Luthi who will start from fifth if he is declared fit to race. Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VS) will line up beside him in sixth.
Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), Kent and Folger make up the third row ahead of the top Speed Up rider Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), Oliveira, and Schrotter who clung on to twelfth and will complete the fourth row on the grid.
Cortese will start from thirteenth ahead of Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten), and Syharin in the fifteenth. Axel Pons (AGR Team) takes sixteenth and is joined on row six by Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Luca Marini (Forward Team).
Simon will start from nineteenth ahead of Baldassarri who despite being quickest in FP3 will start from twentieth following his crash, and they will be joined by Remy Gardner (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2).
Ratthapark Wilairot (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Edgar Pons (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) and the fastest Tech 3 rider Vierge make up row eight. Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team), Robin Mulhauser (CarXpert Interwetten), Vinales, Jesko Raffin *Sports-Millions-EMWE-SAG) and West complete the grid.