Sam Lowes crowned a perfect weekend by winning the first Moto2 race of 2021 in Qatar as Augusto Fernandez scored important points and gained valuable experience by finishing 14th.
The 2021 season started in style under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit with the 20-lap Moto2 race demonstrating the full potential of Sam Lowes, who rode to a brilliant victory.
Sunday evening’s track temperature (23 degrees) was nine degrees lower than qualifying (32 degrees) and the wind had picked up considerably, adding another challenge for team-mates Lowes and Augusto Fernandez.
After a tough qualifying on Saturday, in which he placed 21st, the 23-year old made some drastic changes to bike set-up ahead of the race. He confirmed these improvements on Sunday afternoon by placing eighth in warm-up.
Fernandez was then involved in an epic six-rider fight for eleventh place for the majority of the race. He maintained a strong rhythm until the end, and came home 14th, 17.540s behind the winner.
“I’m happy with what we changed with this bike”
“I’m happy because we did a lot of work all weekend. Yesterday we changed the setting of the bike completely. So today was like a test. We had a quick warm-up, a new setting and then we had to try and understand as many things as possible before the race. Coming from the back of the grid is always difficult so I’m happy with the performance. We have to improve some things, especially in sector three, where I was struggling a lot. But we will analyse everything because I’m happy with what we changed with this bike. If we can improve in sector three, we’ll make a big step. My last two laps of the race were fast – top seven or top eight pace. I can’t wait to start round two to try and improve and have a good weekend!”
Having topped preseason testing, led FP2 and clinched pole position, Lowes started as the pre-race favourite. Despite a turn two crash in the warm-up session, he showed no signs of pressure, making a solid start and taking the lead from Marco Bezzecchi at the start of lap three.
From there, the 30-year old Briton expertly controlled the race, gradually extending his advantage over Remy Gardner to win by 2.26s at the finish. This was Lowes’ seventh win in the Moto2 class and the fourth in his past seven starts.
Lowes becomes the first British rider to win the first race of the season in any grand prix class since Barry Sheene did so in the 1979 Venezuelan Grand Prix!
“Winning the first race is a mega start”
“Honestly, the first one is always difficult because you have all the winter to think about it. Every time you are training, or even if you can’t sleep at night, it’s on your mind! It has a massive build up. Then I crashed in warm-up and the wind was different to the other times we rode during the weekend. All of that added to it! So, I’m really proud of that ride because it was solid. To get pole position and win at the first round starts things off in a good way. My team has done a fantastic job. It was nice to go testing and build a base for the season. Winning the first race is a mega start!”