Qatar Moto2 & Moto3 Review: Neil Morrison On Aki Ajo's Nose For Talent, Sam Lowes' Title Charge, And Diggia Winning For Fausto

As always, Moto2/3 delivered plenty of talking points at the Qatar Grand Prix. Sunday’s results threw up a host of surprises and some fine racing. Here, we take a look through some of the big talking points from both classes.

Aki Chose Well

Viñales and Lowes were the winners in the top two classes. But the man with arguably the most to celebrate on Sunday was Aki Ajo. Of his four riders in 2021, two finished second and fifth in the Moto2 race. The other two: first and second in Moto3. Not a bad return when two of those names – Raul Fernandez in Moto2 and Pedro Acosta in Moto3 – were rookies in their respective classes.

As a highly successful team boss and known talent spotter, not every one of Ajo’s past gambles has paid off. For every Marc Márquez, Johann Zarco and Brad Binder, there has been a Nico Antonelli, Can Öncü or Tetsuta Nagashima, names that never quite lived up to the initial billing.

And the latter is worth mentioning. When he was ruthlessly cut from Ajo’s Moto2 squad late last year, it was not only cut-throat in the extreme (Nagashima remains without a ride in 2021); it was a risk. At that time, Fernandez had yet to win a grand prix and still seemed a work in progress. Promoting him to Moto2 alongside Remy Gardner seemed a touch premature, especially when he had yet to master the race craft necessary in a Moto3 brawl.

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2021 Qatar Moto2 FP3 Result: Canet Climbs The Timesheets

Another hot afternoon at Losail meant that the intermediate class were just as successful as their junior colleagues in changing the combined top 14 configuration. So not at all. Sam Lowes started us off in familiar fashion at the top of the timesheets, where he spent quite some time until Aron Canet took over to close proceedings. With no improvements in the Q2 lineup, Lowes remained the fastest man over the three practice sessions, while FP3 leader Canet kept 14th place on the combined standings.

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2021 Qatar Moto2 FP2 Result: Musical Chairs With Lowes And Bezzecchi

Qatar swapped day for night, sun for floodlights and Bezzecchi for Lowes but it was the same strong men at the top of the timesheets. After Bezzecchi claimed the afternoon session, Lowes took his turn in the lead for the evening, one tenth ahead of the Italian and another two tenths from the next closest challenger, Joe Roberts. Xavi Vierge stepped it up in FP2 to trail the leader by three tenths of a second, while Remy Gardner completed the top five.

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2021 Qatar Moto2 FP1 Result: The Bezzecchi Vs Lowes Show – A Preview

Despite the excitement brought by having motorcycle racing back our screens, the intermediate class did not have much to learn from their first official session of the season. A hot dusty Losail predictably saw them significantly off their usual race pace but some names stood out from the start, in particular Sam Lowes and Marco Bezzecchi who gave a taster of the speed shown in testing by trading top spot in FP1. After Lowes led the way for most of the session, rival Bezzecchi took over in the closing stages and finished a mere hundredth of a second ahead of the Marc VDS rider.

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Crew Chief Gilles Bigot on Sam Lowes’ Recent Turnaround: The Rider is the Masterpiece of a Team

The veteran crew chief knows better than anyone the work that went into Sam Lowes’ title challenge in 2020. The Frenchman speaks to on keeping his approach simple and giving his rider the freedom to work on himself.

Sam Lowes at the Qatar Moto2 test - Copyright Marc VDS/Mirco Lazzari

On the eve of the 2021 season, it’s fair to say Sam Lowes’ hopes for round one are quite different compared to a year ago. Recruited to Marc VDS’ slick operation after two tough seasons in Moto2, the Englishman’s 2020 got off to the worst possible start when he suffered a fracture-dislocation of his right shoulder in a testing spill. It meant the Lincolnshire rider was forced to sit out the first race of the year despite riding in Friday’s sessions.

The turnaround from there was impressive and surprising in equal measures. From joining the Marc VDS team, Lowes worked on himself off the track, visiting a sports psychologist and reworking his approach. He worked on himself on the track, too, smoothing out his riding style and adapting his braking method. The results spoke for themselves. But for a free practice spill at the penultimate race, it is no exaggeration to say the 30-year old would have been entering this year as a reigning champion.

Round two

Not to worry. A productive, if short, preseason sees Lowes start 2021 as one of – if not the – preseason favourite for Moto2. He topped the times on the final night of testing in Qatar and showed a searing rhythm to boot. Marco Bezzecchi, surely another contender in this year’s fight, claims Sam is the “super favourite.” And after the end of a turbulent 2020, who could argue with the fuzzy-haired Italian?

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Qatar Moto2 Test Day 3 Results: Lowes Leads A Tight Top Three

Sam Lowes ends his preparation for the 2021 Moto2 season on a strong footing, the Marc VDS rider ending the final day of the test as fastest. But the competition was not far behind: Sky VR46 rider Marco Bezzecchi and Red Bull KTM Ajo's Remy Gardner were just one hundredth and five hundredths of a second behind Lowes.

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