For the first time in the history of the intermediate class of grand prix motorcycle racing, the qualifying session in Qatar for the opening round of the 2019 Moto2 World Championship was split into two parts. In the same way as Moto3, the fastest fourteen riders from the combined free practice times would be joined in the pole position shoot-out of Q2 by the four fastest riders in Q1.
The four advancing riders from Q1 were: the Sky Racing Team VR46 duo of Luca Marini and class rookie Nicolo Bulega; Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM), the Spaniard the beneficiary of Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) having his fastest lap cancelled.
As in the preceding Moto3 Q2, there was some bunching out on track as riders looked to get a tow. However, the rider who took pole made his lap time on his own, and he did it over and over. Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) took his first Moto2 pole position as a result of a 1’58.585, which followed a series of laps from the German which would have been good enough or pole.
In the end, Schrotter’s advantage over second place was 0.146 seconds, and it was over Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who put himself in almost the perfect position for his debut with his new squad tomorrow.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) ensured it was three different nationalities on the front row of the first Moto2 round of the 2019 season, but also that it was a Kalex front row lockout for the first GP of the Triumph-powered era of the Moto2 World Championship. Baldassarri finished second in Qatar last season, and will hope that this good grid position will allow him to go one better this time round.
Fourth place went to Luca Marini after he made it through from Q1. The Italian could have been on the front row but a crash at turn two in the closing stages of the session put him out of contention.
Marini will be joined on the front row tomorrow by the two riders who arguably came into this season as the favourites for the race win: Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) in fifth and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) in sixth. Whilst both Lowes and Gardner would have perhaps hoped for more, the second row gives them a good position from which they can fight for the top positions.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the top non-Kalex rider as he put his KTM eighth place, between the two Kalex’s of Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) – seventh on his Moto2 return – and Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) who begins his fifth season in Moto2 from ninth on the grid.
Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) will start tomorrow’s GP from tenth, ahead of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in eleventh. Martin had a crash midway through Q2, which limited his chances. Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) completed the fourth row.
Enea Bastianini has looked to have top ten pace all weekend, but could only manage thirteenth on his debut for the Italtrans squad. He will be joined by Tetsuta Nagashima and fellow rookie Nicolo Bulega on row five tomorrow.
After passing through Q1, Iker Lecuona qualified sixteenth, ahead of Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) – who like his teammate has shown better than his qualifying result throughout the weekend – and Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP).