Takaaki Nakagami ended the first day of practice on top after snatching the fastest time from Esteve Rabat in the dying seconds of FP2 in Qatar. The Japanese rider claimed his first Grand Prix podium at Losail last year and, on current form, looks likely to challenge for the rostrum once again this weekend.
The session couldn’t have got off to a worse start for British debutant Sam Lowes with the World Supersport champion sliding off at the final corner. Lowes recovered his Speed Up machine to the pits and later set the 25th fastest time, putting him one place ahead of compatriot Gino Rea, but the first day in Moto2 didn’t exactly go to script for Lowes.
Meanwhile, Nakagami was busy lowering his own benchmark time but Esteve Rabat was the first man into the 2:00s bracket twenty minutes in. Takaaki didn’t wait long before snatching top spot back but when Rabat replied in the final minute with a 2:00.574, it looked as though Marc VDS would complete a Thursday practice double.
Nakagami had other ideas though and a 2:00.522 on his very last lap of the night ensured the honours went to Idemitsu Honda Team Asia. Sandro Cortese took a sensational third at the start of his second Moto2 season with Maverick Vinales, embarking on his first, an equally impressive fourth. Dominique Aegerter was fifth ahead of fellow Swiss Thomas Luthi while Alex de Angelis and Caterham’s Johann Zarco rounded out the top eight.