Putting his COTA crash behind him, Aron Canet came out fighting as he dominated Q2 to claim the top slot on the grid ahead of the fifth round of the championship, the Moto2 Portuguese Grand Prix.

His pace in the USA continued into the paddock’s return to Europe, with the Flexbox HP40 rider looking at ease in the tricky, changeable weather as he took over from early session leader Tony Arbolino.

Now dry but with huge gusts of wind to contend with, Canet only got faster with the Spaniard posting a best of 1m 44.151s - over 0.3 seconds clear of his rivals.

It is just the second pole of Canet’s Moto2 career and his first since swapping to Kalex machinery. His first pole came back in his debut season at the Styrian round of 2020.

 

Cameron Beaubier was on pole in Austin and confidence from his home round performance remained as he left it late to climb from fifth to second with a well timed final flying lap on the American racing entry.

Also putting it all on the line on their final effort was Jake Dixon, who despite feeling a crash coming several times on his final go, kept pushing to move up to third, consolidating his podium performance in America for Autosolar GasGas Aspar.

Those late laps saw Elf Marc VDS rider Arbolino unable to compete with the late pace, still pushing, the Austin race winner slipped back to fourth as he competed for pole after moving up from Q2 with the best time.

Augusto Fernandez also made late gains for Red Bull KTM Ajo as he built into the session to climb to fifth.

He moved past Sam Lowes, his old team-mate, who lapped fairly consistently on his way to sixth on the second Marc VDS entry, completing a solid day for the team. Lowes seemed to have trouble with his first sector, powering around and making up time over the rest of the lap.

Ai Ogura also left it late to make an impact, with the final laps at the drying track helping the Japanese rider up the standings, the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia rider climbing to seventh with his final run.

Somkiat Chantra, who has a long lap penalty coming his way for his COTA actions, where he hit Lowes in the race, will be looking to reduce the impact of his penalty from eighth on the second Idemitsu entry.

Italtrans’  Joe Roberts was yet another rider to find some extra late pace climbing from near the bottom of the timesheets to ninth, with Albert Arenas doing the same to complete the top ten for Aspar.

Jorge Navarro made it through Q1 but then his progressed slowed, taking eleventh on the grid on the second Flexbox entry. He lines up just ahead of Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) who started qualifying with the best time in practice and was so confident in his wet pace that he sat out the soggy FP3 and remained ahead even though progress was made by many towards the end of the session. 

What happened to Celestino Vietti?


Championship leader Celestino Vietti had been a constant on track whatever the weather and was rewarded with the best time in FP3, ensuring he went straight to Q2 with the second best time to his name.

He continued to put out lap after lap but the drier, windier track failed to reward his efforts in the same way - the Mooney VR46 Racing Team Rider has team boss Valentino Rossi to impress in the paddock this weekend and an extra effort will be needed to pick up places from 13th on the grid - his time was almost a second away from the pole lap.

Unlike Canet, who has had a positive turn to his weekend in Portugal, Vietti is also looking to put behind him a fall in COTA , with more risk of a crash from further down the grid to deal with on Sunday.

Fermin Aldeguer was the best of the rookies in 15th for MB Conveyos Speed Up, though he had competition for the honour.

Zonta Van Den Goorburgh made it into Q2 for the first time after setting the fourth best time and denying some big names with an impressive Q1 performance. Latching onto fellow Dutch rider Bo Bendsneyder, he finished Saturday in 16th.

Keminth Kubo, who missed COTA with visa issues, fell early in the second part of qualifying, causing a yellow flag for the first flying laps, the crash was big enough to remove his visor.

Work to do for Acosta on Sunday

Pedro Acosta had a great record at the Algarve International  Circuit - it was the scene of his Moto3 championship victory last year which he took with a win, with the rookie also topping the timesheets at the track in testing, indicating he would do well here on his Moto2 debut in Portugal.

Just 20th after free practice after a huge crash on Friday, the rain may have vanished but his struggles did not, and although he pulled out a personal best to end Q1, his time was only sixth best in the session, leaving the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider in 20th on the grid for race day.

Moto2 will again be last to the track on race day. With the schedule also running later at the Portuguese grand prix, the grid will line up ready to race at 2:30pm on Sunday.