Just days after the Moto2 class completed their final IRTA test at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, the 600cc class returned to the floodlit circuit located in the middle of the desert near Doha for the official start of the 2017 season beginning with Free Practice ahead of the season opener.
Luthi returns to form during FP1
Successful in the past here before, as he won in 2016, Thomas Luthi returned to form topping the first session on his CarXpert Interwetten Kalex. His time of 2:00.422 was just over a second slower than the circuit record lap set in 2016 by Sam Lowes.
The weather changed and Luthi experienced a huge crash at turn two during the second session which prevented him from improving further, however his time was enough to secure him the top spot on combined times.
Takaaki Nakagami was just 0.08 seconds slower than the Swiss rider finishing second overall for the IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia. He finished ahead of Miguel Oliveira in third who has returned to his old team, Red Bull KTM Ajo, who have chosen this year to expand their project and compete in the Moto2 class.
Bagnaia tops FP2 in difficult weather conditions
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammates Franco Morbidelli and Alex Marquez made up the top five. Although Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) was sixth quickest during FP1, despite the weather conditions changing, Moto2 rookie Francesco Bagnaia, who has been promoted to the Moto2 class with the Sky Racing Team VR46 who have also expanded to the 600cc class this year, was quickest during FP2 and his time was enough to gain him sixth overall on the combined times; therefore pushing Pasini down to seventh.
Rookies proving to be strong in the Moto2 class
Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) who is also a rookie in the class, was third quickest during FP2 which meant he was eighth quickest overall. Axel Pons was ninth as they superseded his time which left him seventh during FP1 but ninth overall by the end of day one.
Forward Racing Team teammates Luca Marini and Lorenzo Baldassarri also improved on Danny Kent’s time with Kiefer Racing leaving him 12th on combined times as the highest placed of the Suter machines as they have made their way back to the class.
Continuing with combined times, Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) was 13th ahead of Dynavolt Intact GP teammates, Marcel Schrotter and Sandro Cortese. Moto2 rookie Jorge Navarro was 16th on the Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex where he is replacing Sam Lowes, and he finished ahead of Hafizh Syahrin Petronas Raceline Malaysia), Dominique Aegerter who is making his return to the class with Kiefer Racing as his last team let him go for signing a new contract, Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) and Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) who completed the top 20.
Crash for the 2016 Moto3 champion
The 2016 Moto3 champion Brad Binder, who has joined the class with his championship winning team Red Bull KTM Ajo was 21st. The South African crashed out during FP1 at turn 16 as did Simone Corsi however neither rider was hurt from the incidents.