Moto 2: All Riders And Teams Are Raring to Go As The Season Opener at Qatar Beckons
With new rider line-ups and manufacturer changes the 2021 Moto 2 World Championship looks set to be another stellar season
The team that took Enea Bastianini to his Moto 2 World Championship last year have taken-up on the American sensation of Joe Roberts and have kept onboard 2019 Moto 3 World Champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta. With Joe now being in a championship winning team, he’ll be looking to take his maiden victory at the same circuit where he took his maiden pole position last year, Joe finished 12th position at the end of testing, being 0.590 seconds of Sam Lowes. The American from Malibu California will be looking to make 2021 his year. His new teammate Lorenzo Dalla Porta struggled to adapt to the bigger and more powerful 765cc Moto 2 machines and will be looking to make progress with his performances this season. During testing, Lorenzo didn’t look too strong finishing down in 27th, he’ll be looking to rekindle the form he had in Moto 3, can a double race weekend in Qatar start his fight to the points?
The 2020 Moto 2 Teams World Champions SKY Racing VR46 maintain title contender Marco Bezzecchi for their 2021 campaign. Marco had a stunning season last year, taking two victories and a further five podiums. The Italian will be looking to iron out his inconsistencies and mistakes that ultimately cost him the chance of claiming the title last year. Marco has shown great form during the tests and looks to the start 2021 in the best way possible, will this be the Italians year? Joining alongside Marco replacing Moto 2 Vice Champion Luca Marini is Celestino Vietti, last season Celestino showed great speed and talent in the Moto 3 class and will be looking to make the same impression in the Moto 2 Category and finish the season as top rookie. The SKY Racing VR46 Team are well-known for their teamwork during practice sessions, helping each other out to improve each others pace, can Vietti use this to his advantage to have a successful Moto 2 debut?
ELF Marc VDS Racing Team’s Sam Lowes topped the tests on Day Three, showing he’s recovered and fit to fight for the crown after injuries halted the Brit’s chances. Sam did not take part in last years Qatar round due to a shoulder injury he sustained, but that’s not going to stop him from taking the win at the opening round of 2021. Augusto Fernandez remains with the ELF Marc VDS squad for a second season, Augusto was not able to find the terrific form from 2019 last season managing a best finish of fourth place in the French Grand Prix. The Spaniards testing campaign wasn’t fantastic on paper, but was less than a second off his teammate proving how tough the Moto 2 class is, Augusto will be setting his sights on a strong season opener.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo Team have an all-new line-up for their 2021 campaign with Moto 2 winner Remy Gardner and Moto 3 winner Raul Fernandez. Australia’s Remy Gardner had a good 2020 managing sixth position in the championship standings despite some injuries during the season, he was able to achieve three podiums during the season and managed to take his maiden win at the final round at Portimao. Remy has also been strong in testing, starting where he left off, being less than a tenth off Lowes. Will this be the Australian’s season? Like his new team-mate, Raul Fernandez also managed to take a win in the final round of 2020. So far during testing, Raul has been the strongest out of the eight rookies, ending the test in tenth position ahead of fellow Spaniard and rookie Albert Arenas. The Spaniard from Madrid will be looking to bring the momentum forward to round one under the floodlights.
The Petronas Sprinta Racing Team have been the most consistent team during the tests with both of their riders Xavi Vierge and Jake Dixon maintaining top ten positions during testing, ending up in fourth and fifth place. Xavi’s 2020 season showed good signs with consistent top ten finishes and showing good pace in qualifying, the Spaniard will be looking to improve his race pace as that was his main issue during 2020 and he’ll be looking to take his first podium with the Petronas Sprinta Racing Squad. His team-mate again is Jake Dixon who was one of the biggest surprises of 2020, coming from a tough 2019 campaign to then having consistent top eight finishes from round six until Valencia were he had a career threatening injury to his wrist; Jake has managed to make a full recovery and has shown he’s going to fight for his maiden podium and win in Moto 2 having come so close at Le Mans last year. Will this be Jake’s breakout year?
MB Conveyors Speed Up have Jorge Navarro for their third season together and have a all-new rider in 2020 Moto 2 CEV Champion Yari Montella. Jorge had a dissapointing 2020 losing some form from a positive 2019, struggling to adpat the Speed Up chassis to the new Dunlop tyres; during testing Jorge managed to end in seventh position. One of Jorge’s biggest problems in Moto 2 has been his inconsistency and crashes, usually Jorge has great race pace and uses the Speed Up chassis to the best of its ability, but sometimes pushes over the limit, causing mistakes and crashes. Jorge will be looking to start the 2021 season in a positive manner as he has the potential to achieve a top five finish. Yari Montella wasn’t too strong during testing, but that could be due to a lack of track knowledge since the Losail International Circuit is not featured in the CEV calendar; learning new circuits will be a task Yari will have to overcome in 2021, but will be looking to impress at the circuits that he knows, such as Jerez, Catalunya and Portimao.
Inde Aspar retain Aron Canet for 2021 with Moto 3 World Champion Albert Arenas joining alongside him. Aron Canet showed great form last year in his rookie Moto 2 season, scoring multiple top eight finishes throughout the season. The Spaniard had a couple of setbacks last season due to injury, but will be looking to come fast out of the blocks on Friday as he looks to try and claim his maiden Moto 2 podium which he came close to on occasion last season; in testing Aron finished in sixth position 0.203 from first position. Albert Arenas spent most of the test adapting the 765cc Moto 2 bike and ended the test in eleventh position, ending the test as second top rookie. Albert showed great race craft in Moto 3 to help him clinch the title last year, can he use his race craft to help him become rookie of the year and be on top of the rookies in round one?
Pertamina Mandalika SAG has the team of Bo Bensneydar and Thomas Luthi. Bo has spent the past two season onboard the NTS bike, now that he’s on the preferred Kalex, the Dutchamn will be looking to prove to himself that he has what it takes to perform at the top level of Moto 2. Bo showed great pace last year on the NTS, but was unable to put in great races; during testing Bo finished in eighth position, adapting the new chassis well and looks to make more steps throughout the season, and could cause an upset in round one. The experienced Thomas Luthi will be looking to bounce back after a poor 2020 campaign, with the Swiss rider struggling to be on the pace that he had in 2019 and previous seasons. With a new team, he’ll be looking to rekindle his form; however, it’s not been a great start, with the Swiss rider finishing testing down in 21st place, but was less than a second off Sam Lowes so there’s still positives to take. Can Luthi return to the podium?
The Federal Oil Gresini Team have also maintained their Italian rider Nicolo Buelga from 2020 and also have Fabio Di Giannantonio alongside his fellow Italian. Nicolo showed some glimpse of good pace in a few rounds last year, achieving some third row starts, but the Italian struggled with his shoulder injury as well as some back luck such as in Portimao where he was caught in a crash with his current team-mate Fabio Di Giannantonio; Nicolo had a strong test program with finishing inside the top ten and being just three tenths from the top, can this be the Italians breakout season. Fabio Di Giannantonio has changed manufacturer from the Speed Up to the Kalex, Fabio’s testing was mostly spent adapting the new chassis finishing in 19th position. Fabio showed great race pace in the second of the last season, but ultimately had two crashes whilst leading; the Italians will be looking to redeem himself and get back onto the top step of the podium which he has been so close to over the past two seasons.
Flexbox HP 40 have kept Spaniard Hector Garzo and have swapped Lorenzo Baldassarri for Stefano Manzi with the MV Agusta Forward Racing Team. Hector Garzo pulled doff some impressive performaces last season at the Aragon and Valencian rounds, achieving a second place at the Valencian Grand Prix. Hector’s testing was nothing spectacular, finishing in 20th position 0.881 from first, but Hector will be looking to bounce back in round one. Stefano Manzi has adapted well from the MV Agusta chassis to the Kalex chassis, which he hasn’t ridden since his tenor with the SKY Racing VR46 Team in 2017. Stefano finished the test in 13th position, just over six tenths from the top; the Italian has had some inconsistencies during the past few seasons with crashes, he’ll be looking to rectify that will more consistent finishes inside the top ten.
IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia have retained Somkiat Chantra for 2021 and have promoted their Moto 3 rider Ai Ogura for their 2021 Moto 2 campaign. Somkiat has not had great pace in Moto 2 during the past two seasons, apart from a third position on the grid at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix. The Thai rider will be looking to bounce back and try to fight for the points paying positions as well as the top ten. Chantra finished the test in 22nd a second from the leaders. Can Somkiat get his career on track? Ai Ogura showed great performaces last season in Moto 3, with consistent podium finishes but was plagued without a win, coming so close on multiple occasions. Ai has had a good test performance finishing in 14th position not far from fellow rookies Raul Fernandez and Albert Arenas. Can Ai be the top rookie in round one?
Tennor American Racing have lost their 2020 American hero of Joe Roberts, but have brought in four time MotoAmerican champion Cameron Beaubier who has had some Grand Prix experience, being a former team-mate to non-other than eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez in 2009. The American has shown some great adaptation to the 765cc Triumph Kalex bike finishing testing inside the top 15, with MotoAmerica having Dunlop tyres as one of their suppliers, Cameron hasn’t had to take the time to adapt to the new rubber; can Cameron put in a great performance in round one? Spaniard Marco Ramirez stays with the Tennor American Racing outfit for 2021, Marco showed some great pace in the second half of the season, scoring some impressive top eight finishes. Marco finished testing down in 23rd position and will be looking to fight back during the opening round of the 2021 season, can Marco fight back under the floodlights?
Marcel Schrotter will start his fifth season with the Liqui Moly Intact GP Team alongside rookie Moto 3 Vice Champion Tony Arbolino. Marcel has been a strong contender in the Moto 2 class for a few years now and is a regular podium contender. However, last season Marcel and the Liqui Moly Intact GP Team struggled to adapt to the new Dunlop tyres and weren’t able to achieve the success him and the team have had previously; the German will be looking to turn his fortune around in 2021 and fight for his maiden Moto 2 victory after already achieving five podiums and three pole positions. Can this be the year? Tony Arbolino is another rookie to the Moto 2 Category, and currently is looking stronger than his experienced team-mate with Tony finishing in 14th, whereas Marcel finished in 16th. The Liqui Moly Intact GP Team will be searching for the success they’ve had over the past few season. Will 2021 be their year?
MV Agusta Forward Racing have a new rider with Lorenzo Baldassarri and keep the experienced Simone Corsi for 2021. Lorenzo has shown during the past five seasons that he has great pace and has returned to the team that he won his first race with in 2016, although he will have to ride and adapt to the MV Agusta chassis. Currently it doesn’t seem that Lorenzo has been able to make a great adaptation to the MV Agusta chassis finishing in 24th place, Lorenzo had a few setbacks in 2020, can he turn it around in 2021? Simone Corsi also struggled in testing, finishing behind his team-mate in 25th. The MV Agusta Forward Racing Team seem to be on the back foot at the moment, but they’ll be looking to fight back in the opening round of the season.
The NTS RW Racing GP Team field to new riders for this year, with rookie Barry Baltus and the experienced Hafizh Syahrin. The team have struggled in Moto 2 over the past two seasons, struggling to achieve top ten finishes with just one from Bo Bendsneyder who managed an eighth place finish in the European Grand Prix last year. Both NTS RW Racing GP riders struggled during testing and finished testing in the final two positions. This is not a positive start to the season for NTS as they’ll look to try and find some speed in the chassis to move their riders up the field.
Friday’s Free Practice One and Two take place at 14:45 and 19:05 (GMT+3), with Saturday’s FP3 at 14:20, Q1 and Q2 at 18:20 and 18:50 (GMT+3) and Sunday’s Race at 18:20 (GMT+3)
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