Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class in Le Mans:
The intermediate class enjoyed their first fully dry session of the weekend on Saturday morning but that did not seem to halt the gravel trap party at all. Joe Roberts spent most time at the top of the timing screens, with brief interruptions from the likes of Jorge Navarro and Marco Bezzecchi, but the American retook the lead on his penultimate flying lap, going on to crash at turn 8 on his final flying lap. One tenth down on the timesheets, Bezzecchi also closed the session with a tumble at turn 13, while Augusto Fernandez joined the top three without any incident.
Although still on the chilly side, the Le Mans circuit had dried up nicely in time for the Moto2 show and it allowed the times to become more competitive. However, there was a bit of early drama as championship leader Luca Marini suffered a spectacular highside at turn 5, prompting a red flag for track clean-up. The Italian limped away and worryingly missed the remainder of the session as he visited the medical centre and then the local hospital with a suspected ankle injury.
The drizzle had stopped by the time the intermediate class took centre stage but the wet surface still gave us quite a few adventures in the gravel trap and a handful of noteworthy saves. One man who seemed to thrive in the conditions was Kasma Daniel, who put his name at the top of the timesheets on his final flying lap. The Malaysian rider demoted Hector Garzo to second position, a quarter of a second behind the leader but only three thousandths of a second ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri.
The MotoGP schedule is already packed, the riders coming off a free weekend after completing one triple-header before embarking on the next, at Le Mans and Aragon twice. But about half the MotoGP grid has an appointment on the Algarve before they start a weekend of racing at Le Mans. On Wednesday and Thursday, thirteen full-time riders and seven test riders will take to the track at Portimao for a combined MotoGP test and track familiarization session.
The test serves several purposes: for the manufacturers to gather information about the track, and find a base setup and gearing to serve as a starting point for when MotoGP returns for the final round of the 2020 season; for Michelin, to get an idea of the kinds of tires needed at the circuit; and for the riders to assess the circuit in terms of safety and to understand the layout. The test riders will be riding MotoGP machines, while the contracted riders will be using production bikes to get to know the track.
Anger Drives Luca On
Nothing fires a rider's motivation quite like feeling slighted. As mentioned in this column a week ago, Moto2 championship leader Luca Marini fully expected to be up front and fighting at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. Losing out in fights with Enea Bastianini and Sam Lowes clearly stung as he suffered the indignity of finishing fourth.
He arrived in Barcelona intent on proving a point. Fast through free practice, fastest in qualifying, the 23-year old Italian could have easily settled for second once Sam Lowes – the only rider capable of matching him over race distance – edged ahead on lap 16. But he later revealed that it wouldn't have sat right internally had he not responded.
“When I saw on the board ‘8 laps (to go)', the rear dropped a lot,” Marini explained, displaying all of the in-race intelligence that he shows off the bike. “Sam overtook me. He was really fast but pushing the rear tyre. I was hoping he would have a drop also, bigger than me. I tried to stay behind him, put pressure and in last 3 laps he started doing some mistakes.”
“Starting on Friday the feeling was great. We made the correct changes on the bike for here. The race was nice. With this low temperature it was easy to push every lap. We worked a lot on the engine brake to try and save the tyre, because I knew it was important.
Moto2 standings after the race at Montmelo:
Results and summary of the Moto2 race in Barcelona: