Lowes claims pole position ahead of Moto2 race in Argentina

British rider Sam Lowes snatched pole position ahead of the second round in the Moto2 season in Argentina following final practice and qualifying.

Lowes claims pole position ahead of Moto2 race in Argentina
Lowes claims pole position ahead of Moto2 race in Argentina | Photo: Gresini Racing

Many riders made their way straight to the track for the final Free Practice session (FP3) for the Moto2 class at the Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit in Argentina.

Hafitzh Syahrin took the lead early on aboard his Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex but Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) soon took the top spot of the leaderboard. Alex Rins soon took his place briefly as well as Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport), Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) were also there to contest for top spot. Zarco was the first to break through the 1:44 minute barrier; he was one of nine riders able to do compete with this in the last five minutes of FP3.

Folger almost crashed

Straight after Folger’s first flying lap he almost came off on a right-handed corner as he left foot briefly came off the footrest. A few laps later as he continued to push and ended up running wide and having to use the run-off area. Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing) also ran wide as the rear end of the bike seemed to pull him out wide. Sam Lowes also did this on his last flying lap of FP3 which had been the fastest up until the point where he went wide.

Pons to miss two rounds

The news came during FP3 that Paginas Amarillas HP 40 rider Edgar Pons has to miss this round and the next one at the Circuit of the Americas due to a rare Hepatitis A Infection.

Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) and Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) came into contact in the later stages of FP3, Corsi overtook Rins on the inside and forced Rins off track and clipped his handlebar, he waved to apologise but Rins did not appear to be impressed.

By the end of FP3, 20 riders were within one second of the fastest time set by Folger which was 1:43.594. Luthi made an appearance in the closing stages of FP3 but was pushed down to tenth by the end of it.

Fast times set at the start of Moto3 qualifying

The 45 minute qualifying session started and the battle continued for pole position. It was not long before riders managed to once again break through the 1:44 minute barrier as the leader swapped often early on in the session.  

The Moto2 qualifying session seemed to be quiet in comparison to that of the MotoGP class. Axel Pons was seen grinding the foot-pegs of his AGR Team Kalex as he attempted to improve his time; sparks were flying away from the rear of his bike and his time of 1:43.962 secured him the front place on the fourth row in tenth position.

Lowes claimed pole!

Lowes began his pursuit of pole position in the final stages of qualifying but found himself frustrated amongst the traffic from other riders on the track. Eventually during his last lap the Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 rider managed to claim pole position with a time of 1:43.347, he was 0.119 seconds faster than 2015 Champion Johann Zarco who claims second on the grid and rider Folger completed the front row.

Johann Zarco claimed second on the grid | Photo: Motorsport.com
Johann Zarco claimed second on the grid | Photo: Motorsport.com

Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Aisa), Morbidelli and season opener race winner Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) made up the second row. Folger’s teammate Sandro Cortese was seventh ahead of British Leopard Racing Team rider Danny Kent and Forward Team rider Lorenzo Baldassarri. One second covered the first sixteen riders on the grid.

The fastest Speed Up was that of Speed Up Racing Team rider Simone Corsi in thirteenth with a time of 1:44.060, which was 0.713 seconds slower than the Kalex of Lowes. The fastest Tech 3 rider was Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) in 23rd with a time of 1:44.703; this was 1.356 seconds slower than the pole position time. The only Suter in the Moto2 class of Efren Vazquez who is riding for JPMoto Malaysia qualified in twenty-eigth with a time of 1:46.272 which was almost three seconds slower than the Kalex.

Following the confusion throughout the season opener in Qatar which saw eight riders penalised for jump starts, it is more than likely that riders will take extra precaution at the start of the race in Argentina so not to receive a penalty causing them to lose more points in the championship race.