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09 August 2020 10:32

Grand Prix motorcycle racing Moto2 Qatar motorcycle Grand Prix

Moto2 Joe Roberts Brno pole second for American this year

Joe Roberts rediscovered his season-opening speed in MotoGP Moto2 qualifying Saturday at Automotodrom Brno, scoring his second pole position of the season. With a lap of 2 minutes, 1.692 seconds on his No. 16 Kalex bike, the American edged Sam Lowes by 0.13 seconds to take the top starting spot in the Czech Republic Grand Prix. After finishing fourth from the pole position in the March 8 opener at Qatar, Roberts had struggled with consecutive 17th-place finishes in the past two rounds at Jerez since the series returned from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With the Qatar pole, Roberts, 23, became Moto2's first American pole-sitter in 10 years and said he also learned some racecraft while leading 15 of 20 laps in the opener that he plans on applying Sunday at the Brno circuit. Joe Roberts got his season back on track after a dip at Jerez with pole posiotion at Brno ahead of the Moto2 Czech Grand Prix.

The Tennor American Racing rider landed his second career pole, with both having come this season as the American rediscovered his qualifying form from Qatar. His best of 2m 01.692s was set on just his third lap of his first flying run, and with improvements hard to come by as the session went on at a boiling hot Brno, it held firm. Sam Lowes makes the front row for the third consecutive race, he worked hard with his team-mate after the EG 0,0 Marc VDS riders left it late to join the action. Enea Bastianini was race winner last time out in the Andalucia Grand Prix and will be looking to repeat the feat after securing third for Italtrans, completing an all Kalex powered front row. Ex-MotoGP rider Hafizh Syahrin looked back to his best as he climbed to fourth for Openbank Aspar, his best grid position while in the intermediate class.

There were several big names who didn't make it out of the first half of qualifying - championship leader Tetsuta Nagashima lacked pace and could only manage seventh in the session - that becomes 21st on the grid. Joe Roberts repeated his Qatar GP qualifying heroics to earn a magnificent second Moto2 pole position of 2020 in the Czech Republic Grand Prix. After a tough couple of races in Jerez, the American was able to edge out Free Practice pacesetter Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with Andalucia GP winner Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) completing the front row in P3. Roberts set his 2:01.692 and fastest effort on his third flying lap in Q2 to displace Bastianini from provisional pole, with almost the entirety of Q2 setting their best times on their first two laps as they scrambled for position. The gap between the top two sat at just over a tenth but with track conditions not getting any better, the riders – including Lowes – were struggling to find any personal best times.

And sure enough, no one was able to trouble the pole time as Roberts' stunning return to form secures him a second pole of the season. Lowes' incredible pace all weekend rewards him with a second place start and a third consecutive front row, with Bastianini continuing the form that ultimately propelled him to victory in the Andalucia GP. Fourth place went the way of Hafizh Syahrin (Openbank Aspar Team) and the Malaysian will launch his best grid slot of 2020, aiming to hold off Andalucia GP podium finisher Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) in P5. Jorge Martin was the sole Red Bull KTM Ajo rider in Q2 after Championship leader Tetsuta Nagashima failed to make it through Q1, and the Spaniard will be starting P6 as he aims to close the gap to his teammate in the title scrap. Q1's fastest man Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up), who took his first intermediate class podium at Brno last year, completes Row 9 – his best qualifying of the year so far.

Rounding out the top 10 is the man lying second in the Championship, Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46). Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up), Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing), Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and rookie Aron Canet (Openbank Aspar Team) complete the top fifteen. In Q2, Joe Roberts was able to return exactly to the form that saw him take pole position at the opening round in Qatar, as the American took his second career pole. After suffering in both Jerez races, Roberts' data engineer was able to return to the team this weekend, and that certainly seems to have improved the potential of Roberts who will be aiming for his first career podium tomorrow. Sam Lowes qualified second, meaning he has started from the front row in three consecutive races since the beginning of 2016.

The Briton is, like Roberts, still without a podium in 2020, but was close in both Jerez races and looks just as competitive this weekend in Brno. Andalusian Grand Prix winner Enea Bastianini qualified third in his quest to claim the points lead in the championship. Marco Bezzecchi and Jorge Martin will start alongside Syahrin on the second row. Luca Marini completes the top 10 for the grid, although he will feel he should have been further up after finishing towards the top of the times in most of the sessions this weekend. The Italian will be joined on row five by Jake Dixon and Aron Canet, the Spaniard struggling with arm pump this weekend; whilst Marcos Ramirez heads up row six from Bo Bendsneyder and a severely disappointing Lorenzo Baldassarri who was 0.481 seconds slower than Bendsneyder and over three tenths of a second slower than Di Giannantonio's Q1-topping time. Gardner will start from the front of row eight alongside Dominique Aegerter, who is replacing the ill Jesko Raffin this weekend for NTS, and Hector Garzo who was 10th-fastest for 24th on tomorrow's Moto2 grid. After Moto3 and MotoGP, as usual, Moto2 also took to the track for qualifying in the afternoon at Brno, the fourth round of the season. The pole position, after an exciting Q2, went to Joe Roberts, who returned to being competitive after the disappointments in the double round of Jerez, and who managed to stop the clocks in 2:01.692. The Marc VDS rider showed one of the best race paces in the category and tomorrow he will try to break away from the very first laps. In addition to Roberts trying to stop Lowes, there will also be Enea Bastianini who will start from the third slot after a solid qualifying finished in front of Syahrin, Marco Bezzecchi and Jorge Martin who line up on the second row. In third place Marcel Shrotter with Fernandez and Di Giannantonio at his side while Luca Marini is only tenth, eight-tenths from Roberts and who will look for a decisive start tomorrow to show his pace and stay out of trouble.