The Championship leader turned the screw in Q2 and timed it to perfection.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) is on pole for the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, but there’s much more to the headline than that. The number 73 timed it to perfection on a difficult, mixed track to take two seconds out his closest challenger, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), and pick up where he left off in Germany. Lowes starts second after a nevertheless impressive session, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) completing the front row in third…four seconds adrift.
Earlier there was plenty of drama in Q1, with Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) moving up to lead Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) and Brit Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) in third, with another impressive performer in fourth as Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) joined them to move through. Some first timers, some wet weather specialists…and everything to play for in Q2.
The rain was easing off in the second session and times tumbled. After the first five minutes, the top four were the Q1 graduates, with Marco Bezzecchi leading the way, but there was plenty more to come.
Baldassarri took the leap to dry tyres, swiftly followed by Marquez. Then Bo Bendsneyder took a light tumble at Turn 1, rider remounting, as Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Sam Lowes started to attack. But it was Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) who took over at the top at that stage, with Friday’s fastest impressing in the very different conditions, and it was clear that whoever set their flying lap last would be making some serious gains as it continued drying out.
It came down to Marquez vs Lowes, with each sector making it increasingly clear that the number 73 was about to absolutely obliterate the opposition. And that he did, although it was also true of Lowes with everyone else.
A late lap from Lorenzo Baldassarri secured him third on the grid and a front row for the first time with Qatar, although the deficit was sizeable it proved enough. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) blasted in a lap right at the end to head up row two, turning the tables on compatriot rookie Giannantonio to just pip him on Saturday, with Marco Bezzecchi in sixth making it an all-Italian second row as he took his best Moto2™ grid position since joining the class.
Marcel Schrötter was seventh as he aims for back-to-back podiums, with Bo Bendsneyder in eighth ahead of fellow top performer Jake Dixon. Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) completed the top ten.
So where’s Championship challenger Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP)? Down in P12 despite his previous wet weather win at Brno. He’ll be looking to move forward on Sunday, as will Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in 14th, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 16th and returnee Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 down in 24th….
Marquez seems on an unstoppable roll of late. But race day is set to dawn dry, and the number 73 had serious company before the conditions changed. Can he do it again? Find out when the lights go out on Sunday at 12:20 local time (GMT+2).
1 – Alex Marquez (SPA – Kalex) 2’06.787
2 – Sam Lowes (GBR – Kalex) +2.018
3 – Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA – Kalex) +3.979