Lowes Lays Down Early Marker In Qatar

by Louis Suddaby

Sam Lowes showed that his sensational winter testing pace was genuine by setting a blistering pace in the first Moto2 practice session of 2015. The Briton set the fastest ever Moto2 lap of Losail to finish six tenths clear of Johann Zarco as the two stars of pre-season shone under the floodlights in Qatar.

Zarco was the first rider to break into the 2:00s bracket as the intermediate class riders wasted no time despite a track surface. The Frenchman soon lowered the benchmark to a 2:00.612 but Lowes was circulating close behind him and registered an identical lap time as the two established a comfortable margin over the competition. Ominously for his rivals, Zarco’s 2:00.612 wasn’t a one-off flyer with the Ajo Motorsport rider setting several other lap times within a fraction of his overall best, a warning sign for Sunday’s race.

Lowes would end the opening 45 minutes on top though and in a class where gaps between riders are often minimal, the Speed Up rider made an astonishing leap forward with the first ever sub-two-minute lap of Losail in the closing minutes. As a result, Lowes finished with a six tenth cushion over Zarco with reigning champion Esteve Rabat a second off the pace in third.

Thomas Luthi was fourth ahead of German duo Jonas Folger and Sandro Cortese while Franco Morbidelli claimed seventh ahead of Anthony West on the first of the home-based QMMF Speed Ups. Alex Rins made a bright start to life in Moto2 with ninth but his Pons teammate Luis Salom suffered his first crash of the campaign, prompting more furious gestures in the gravel trap.

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