The Championship leader overcomes the rookie, with 2020 winner Bezzecchi completing the front row.
Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) continued his march of impressive form in 2021 on Saturday, the Australian taking pole position for the Michelin® Grand Prix of Styria by just over a tenth from rookie Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) as the two duelled for the honour. It goes to the veteran but the rookie makes it his best Saturday yet in the intermediate class, with Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) completing the front row at the venue that saw him take his first Moto2™ win.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was certainly one surprise name in the Q1 session in Styria, but the Italian topped it to move through, getting the better of Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) by just 0.014. Albert Arenas (Aspar Team Moto2) and Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP 40) joined the two in Q2, leaving a few names out of the running including Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) and Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) as they take P20 and P21, respectively… looking for more on Sunday.
The early pacesetter was the MotoGP™-bound Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo), with Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) joining him at the top of the timesheets too. But the namesake 1-2 didn’t last long as Gardner struck back, before Bezzecchi took over as the man to beat after the first run.
Ogura soon made a bigger move, up into P3, before then suddenly taking provisional pole with less than two minutes to go. But as the rookie started to dream of a maiden Moto2™ pole, Gardner made his move, the Australian fighting back to go a tenth clear at the top. Ogura was just unable to respond on his final lap, but he still takes away a first-ever intermediate class front row start as a consolation prize. Bezzecchi, meanwhile, bemoaned some technical issues in the aftermath as the reason he could not improve on his earlier time, but it was still enough for P3.
Gardner heads Ogura and Bezzecchi, with rookie sensation Raul Fernandez forced to settle for fourth as he aims to cut the gap to his teammate in the Championship. Aron Canet (Aspar Team Moto2) takes fifth by the smallest possible margin of 0.001 ahead of Augusto Fernandez.
Augusto Fernandez pipped teammate Sam Lowes so the Brit heads up Row 3, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) continuing his excellent weekend of Moto2™ form to line up in eighth. Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was just 0.003 in further arrears as he completes the third row.
That’s it from Saturday, with Remy Gardner back in the driving seat and looking to do some more damage in the standings. Can he gain again or will the likes of Fernandez (x2) or Bezzecchi fight back? Find out at 12:20 (GMT +2)!
Moto2™ front row:
1 Remy Gardner – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – 1:28.668
2 Ai Ogura – Idemitsu Honda Team Asia – Kalex – +0.121
3 Marco Bezzecchi – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex – +0.143
Remy Gardner: “I feel good! After struggling a bit in FP1 with some brake problems we finally got everything sorted out and started to work on the setup. I don’t know if I expected pole or not but happy to bring it home, we’ve been working away and it’s good to be back in parc ferme after the summer break. So super happy and we’ll see what tomorrow brings with all the rain but it should be an interesting weekend.”
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