Former MotoGP rider Alex de Angelis
claimed a piece of history by leading the first ever grand prix session for the new Moto2 World Championship class, during Friday free practice for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix.
As required by the rules, the huge 41-rider Moto2 field are all using identical 600cc four-stroke Honda-built engines, which are mounted inside prototype chassis designs from 15 different manufacturers.
A standard ECU means electronic rider aids are banned, while engine speed is limited to 16,500 rev/min and engine power is estimated at 120-125bhp. Dunlop is the exclusive tyre supplier. The wailing four-cylinder four-strokes replace the 250cc (two-stroke) World Championship, which began in 1949.
de Angelis, riding a Scot chassis for the Scot Racing Team, dominated much of the one-hour session - his reign at the top only seriously interrupted by Scott Redding, who slid his Suter chassis into P1 with 15 minutes to go.
The Briton, who only found front-running form at the very final pre-season test, remained in charge until de Angelis delivered a 2min 3.239sec effort - a unexpectedly large 0.595sec quicker than Redding - with three minutes to go.
Reigning 125cc world champion Julian Simon made it three different chassis designs in the top three, with third on his Aspar run RSV machine, with Swiss rider Dominique Aegerter posting one of the biggest surprises with fourth.
Two other Suter chassis, of Stefan Bradl and Roberto Rolfo, followed before Alex Debon put FTR into seventh and the final rider within one second of de Angelis.
Karel Abraham (RSV), Gabor Talmacsi (Speed Up) and Alex Baldolini (ICP) made it six different chassis designs in the top ten, with Yuki Takahashi
eleventh for Tech 3.
Gresini's Toni Elias
- team-mate to de Angelis in MotoGP last year and the only rider in Moto2 with races wins in 125, 250 and MotoGP - claimed 13th place despite undergoing surgery for fractures to his left hand and ankle, which he sustained on the very last day of pre-season testing. The Spaniard was the top Moriwaki rider.
Elias and de Angelis, who both stood on the MotoGP podium last year for Honda Gresini, intend to use Moto2 as a springboard back into MotoGP.
For reference, the fastest lap time in the previous 125cc session was 2min 7.218s, while the 250cc fastest race lap at last year's rain-shortened event was 2min 1.752sec by Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda). The Qatar 250cc race lap record is 1min 59.379sec, by Debon in 2008.
No Moto2 machines had not ridden at Qatar before tonight's session, with official winter testing all taking place in Spain.Friday practice - Qatar:
1. de Angelis (Scot) 2min 3.239s
2. Redding (Suter) +0.595sec
3. Simon (RSV) +0.629sec
4. Aegerter (Suter) +0.828sec
5. Bradl (Suter) +0.871sec
6. Rolfo (Suter) +0.911sec
7. Debon (FTR) +0.925sec
8. Abraham (RSV) +1.030sec
9. Talmacsi (Speed Up) +1.098sec
10. Baldolini (ICP) +1.126sec