Moto2/3 Qatar test: Gardner and Binder set the pace – FULL REPORT

Moto2 and Moto3 have begun their 3 days of testing in Qatar with Remy Gardner and Darryn Binder on top.

Remy Gardner was one of few riders to break into the 1:59’s today at Qatar, the Australian rider joins the Red Bull KTM Ajo team for 2021 with a current spec Moto2 machine and all the tools he needs to attack the title. Moto2’s testing day ended with 11 riders in the 1:59 bracket with Sam Lowes the first rider to strike first and take the plunge into the sub 2 minute lap times. Gardner ended the session with a commanding lead of 0.269 over Aron Canet in P2 riding the Boscoscuro chassis which were previously named Speed Up. Gardners lap time was 1’59.074 which was 9 tenths off the lap record of 1’58.136 which was set by Joe Roberts in 2020 to take pole position.

Speaking of Joe Roberts, the American rider hasn’t forgotten how competitive he is at the Losail International Circuit, the Californian rider returns to Moto2 in new colours donning the blue of the Italtrans team who won the 2020 Moto2 World Championship with Enea Bastianini. He also has gained Red Bull as a personal sponsor, the energy drinks giant giving him financial support as well as access to their athlete’s performance centres which are allowing his fitness to step up to the next level, he finished in P3 overall 0.480 from P1.

Sam Lowes is back from injury, the Leicestershire man donning Monster Energy once again as he did in previous years. He comes back after nearly winning the Moto2 title last season with injuries at the start and end of his season shutting down his plans of being the first British intermediate champion since Phil Read in 1971, Lowes set a lap time worthy of P4 in the classic Marc VDS colours. Niccolo Bulega was the fifth fastest rider, the Gresini Moto2 man riding his third season in the class, he seems to have found some speed in the team.

Xavi Vierge is another rider who aims to step up in 2021, the Spaniard has ridden for various top tier teams yet has not been able to take his first win in the class. For the first time since 2017 he will complete a second year with a team as he aims to give the team their first-ever podium in the middleweight class. He finished ahead of ex-teammate Marcel Schrotter in P7 with Augusto Fernandez in P8, Fernandez is another rider looking to find lost form after suffering a tough year in 2020 due to a tyre profile change. He stormed into the class in 2019 taking 3 wins and 5 podiums and was even a title contender at one point, he changed to the Marc VDS team for 2020 lost his way a small bit but aims to get back on track in 2021.

Jake Dixon is another rider returning from injury, the Le Mans race leader broke his wrist in the closing rounds of last season and even revealed to MotoGP.com that it nearly prematurely ended the career of the rider. Thankfully he is back on track in 2021 in P9 0.842 from P1 and aims to take that race win he lost out on in Le Mans. Class rookie Raul Fernandez caps off the top 10, the rider taking a flurry of podiums and wins last year in Moto3, eventually deciding to move to Moto2 as he was too tall for the KTM RC250R, he finished within 1 second of teammate Gardner.

Further down the list we see Fabio Di Giannantonio in P11, the Italian moving from Speed Up to Kalex, Bo Bendsneyder is another rider who is moving to Kalex riding for the Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team, he finished in P15.

The Moto2 rookies spent their time adjusting once again with Tony Arbolino in P17, Ai Ogura in P18, Albert Arenas in P23, Celestino Vietti in P24, 5 x MotoAmerica champion Cameron Beaubier in P25, 2020 CEV Moto2 champion Yari Montella in P28 and 16-year-old Barry Baltus at the back of the pack in P30.

Full Moto2 Results:

Darryn Binder has shown he has been quick to adapt to the Honda after riding KTM machinery for the past 4 seasons in Moto3, the 23-year-old making the change to the incredibly competitive Petronas SRT team, picking up sponsorship from Monster Energy on the way who are aiding him financially. The Petronas SRT squad were able to take the top 2 positions overall with John McPhee running in P2 just 0.026 off his teammates time of 2’05.750, they are still a long way off the all-time lap record which is held by Aron Canet who lay down a lap time of 2’04.561 in 2019 at the circuit.

The first session of the day was fairly uneventful with many riders not going out on track until session two, the first session also included a red flag thanks to Yuki Kunii who dropped oil across the tarmac in Qatar. These sessions gave many riders the chance to learn their new motorcycles after changing manufacturers or moving into the class, looking into the top 10 we see 5 riders who are not riding the same bikes as last year, these are namely Darryn Binder who moved from KTM to Honda, Jaume Masia – Honda to KTM, Andrea Migno – KTM to Honda, Izan Guevara – KTM to Gas Gas and Niccolo Antonelli who changes from Honda to KTM, he has previously ridden the KTM for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in 2017 and Gresini in 2014.

Filip Salac was able to lock in a lap time worthy of P3 overall, the Czech rider just 0.040 from Binders time, then in P4 was Dennis Foggia with a minuscule gap of just 0.002 to Salac ahead of him, the top 4 covered by just 0.042 in typical Moto3 style in the ultra-competitive class.

24-year-old Moto3 veteran Gabriel Rodrigo took the P5 spot overall, the Argentine being beaten by his rookie teammate last year in the Gresini team. Rodrigo is yet to take a podium for the Gresini team who won the 2018 Moto3 World Championship, this year will be a make or break season for the rider whos teammate Alcoba has shown the bike is competitive.

Jaume Masia lines up in KTM colours once again in 2021, the Spanish rider will be looking to put an assault on the Moto3 title this season after winning two races overall despite struggling with the Honda at first, he placed in P6 overall ahead of Andrea Migno who led session 1 and 2 at Qatar and showed lots of pace in earlier tests at Valencia, he finished ahead of ex-teammate and veteran Romano Fenati who will begin his 9th Moto3 season after making his debut in 2012.

Young hotshot Izan Guevara got to grips with his Gas Gas machine fairly quickly taking P9 in his first official test as a Moto3 rider, the back to back European Talent Cup and Junior World Champion will be sure to impress this season remaining with the team he took the Junior World Championship with, he was 0.376 from P1 ahead of Niccolo Antonelli who is another rider who needs to recapture the previous form as he begins his 10th consecutive Moto3 season.

Further down the pack we saw 2020 Red Bull Rookies champion Pedro Acosta in P12 with other rookies Andi Farid Izdihar in P21, 2020 Moto3 Junior World Championship runner up and Moto3 World Championship podium finisher Xavier Artigas in P22 whilst Frenchman Lorenzo Fellon finishes in P26 for the SIC58 Squadra Corse and Adrian Fernandez capping off the class in last place, 2.721 from P1 and 0.745 from Fellon ahead of him.

Full Moto3 Results:

Featured images –

Red Bull KTM Ajo (Gardner)

Petronas SRT (Binder)