The cancellation of the FP3 sessions for all classes in Austin on Saturday meant that for the Moto2 riders, the day was spent waiting all day for their qualifying session, which came after the other two GP classes.
Despite the lashings of rain all day, Q1 got underway in dry conditions, and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) joined Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech3) in advancing to Q2 to join the fastest fourteen riders from Friday.
Binder immediately put his extra track time from Q1 compared to those riders directly through to Q2 to good use, as he led the early part of the session, although the fastest riders from day one in Texas built their rhythm, and eventually overhauled the South African’s top time.
It was Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) who took pole position, his second of the season after securing first on the grid back in Qatar. The German was dominant on Friday, and continued that into qualifying. Whilst it took him a while to find the confidence in the wind, and after a day of sitting around and waiting, once he found his rhythm he was always going to be difficult to better.
That said, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) got close, and was just 0.058 seconds away from Schrotter’s pole time by the end of the session. Last year’s pole sitter will be hoping he can better translate that qualifying speed into a good race pace than what he managed last year, when he finished second, two seconds shy of the winner Francesco Bagnaia.
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completes the front row for the Moto2 Grand Prix of the Americas. The British rider has a good history at the Texan track, but has been somewhat under the radar this weekend. After a crash in Argentina, a solid points haul will be important in the race for Lowes.
Fourth place went to Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP). He was following Schrotter on the German’s pole lap, and was making a time which could have been good enough for the front row, but a mistake in sector three cost him seven tenths, and any chance of the first row. However, fourth place is not a disaster for the Swiss, who will look to return to the podium after a crash in Argentina.
Brad Binder ended Q2 in fifth, a good result for the KTM rider on a weekend where the Austrian marque seems to be struggling quite significantly in the intermediate class.
Speed Up won the 2015 Moto2 Grand Prix of the Americas with Sam Lowes, and a sixth place for Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools – Speed Up) puts him in a good position to fight at the front in the race four years on. The Spaniard has yet to make a serious impression on the Italian frame this season, something he will hope to change in the race.
Before Friday, Mattia Pasini (Flexbox HP 40) had never ridden a Triumph-powered Moto2 bike. However, he has been fast all weekend in his replacement ride for the injured Augusto Fernandez, and qualified in an impressive seventh place.
Reigning Moto3 World Champion Jorge Martin had a pretty dreadful Friday. The Spaniard spent much of his time on day one in Texas outside of the top twenty. However, after advancing through Q1, the Spaniard was able to put a good performance together in Q2 to qualify in the middle of row three, just under half a second behind Pasini, and a third of a tenth ahead of Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) who lines up on the back of row three in ninth.
Luca Marini was quite strong on one lap speed on Friday, ending both sessions in fourth, but qualifying did not go to plan for the Italian, who will start from the head of the fourth row in tenth, ahead of Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) and Marco Bezzecchi, who had his best qualifying in Moto2.
Row five sees Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools – Speed Up) line up ahead of Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40). The Italian has a poor record in Austin, with a best finish of only tenth. However, after looking reasonably competitive on Friday he would have hoped for a better result in qualifying, but as it is he will need a good start and some good luck to make it through turn one cleanly.
Bo Bendsneyder enjoyed his best Moto2 qualifying of the season in sixteenth, ahead of Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), who has been competitive all weekend, but ruined his qualifying with a nasty crash on the exit of turn nine, and will line up back in eighteenth.
The fastest rider to not make Q2 was Iker Lecuona (American Racing), who will line up nineteenth, ahead of a disappointing Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in twentieth and Jesko Raffin (NTS RW Racing GP) in twenty-first.
Joe Roberts (American Racing) will start his home GP from twenty-second, ahead of Khairul Idham Pawi (Petronas SRT) and Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) on row eight.
Philipp Oettl (Red Bull KTM Tech3) will start the race from the head of row nine, alongside Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) and Stefano Manzi’s replacement Gabriele Ruiu (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward); whilst the injured Xavi Cardelus (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) and Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) complete the grid.
Neither Dimas Ekky (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) nor Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) set a time, with Ekky cashing out at the beginning of Q1, and Dixon being ruled out after his nasty Friday practice crash due to concussion.
Featured image courtesy of Dynavolt Intact GP