Temperatures were just a little kinder on the lightweight class for their second outing of the day but the plotline for FP2 was fairly familiar, with Pedro Acosta spending the most time at the top of the timing screens, until rival Dennis Foggia robbed him with 10 minutes remaining. However, the late flurry of flying laps saw the Italian’s lead cut down and Romano Fenati timed things to perfection to steal the headlines from compatriot Foggia.
The circus made its return to a similarly bright but significantly colder Portimão and the top of the timesheets saw some familiar names. After Pedro Acosta took the reins early on with a hefty advantage, he was untroubled at the top until the action hotted up with a time attack for the final handful of minutes. Setting things up nicely for the weekend’s title battle, Dennis Foggia was eventually the one to knock Acosta off his perch, the Italian ending FP1 over seven tenths of a second ahead of the closest challenger.
We have been fortunate this year compared to 2020. Last year, we had repeat races at five circuits, making up ten of the fourteen MotoGP rounds held. In 2021, the situation with the Covid-19 pandemic has improved to the point that MotoGP managed to visit three different continents, needing to return to the same circuit only four times. Eight races out of eighteen is far from perfect, but much better than the situation in 2020.
Even the repeat races were better this year than last. 2020 saw all five of the repeat rounds at the same track held on consecutive weekends, as back-to-back rounds. 2021 started off that way, with the second round at Qatar held on the Sunday after the first race there. Austria followed suit in August. But the next repeat round wasn't until September and October, with Misano 2 taking place fully five weeks after Misano 1.
As the last of the double headers, Portimão is even more extreme. MotoGP has returned to the Portuguese circuit for the second time more nearly seven months after its first visit back in April. The reason for that massive gap is simple: the second round at Portimão was added in early July, after it became clear that Dorna would have to cancel the Australian round at Phillip Island.
There was some consternation in Austria in August when KTM rolled out a wheel cover for the rear wheel of the KTM RC4 on the Red Bull KTM Ajo bikes of Pedro Acosta and Jaume Masia. Despite the strict technical rules in Moto3, the specter of aerodynamics has reared its ugly head.
Naturally, this advance could not go unanswered by KTM's only technical rival in Moto3. At Aragon, the Hondas of the Leopard squad – the most technically advanced of the Honda Moto3 teams – also sprouted a closed wheel cover, almost identical in design to that of the KTM.
Sunday’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix hosted three dramatic races which each had huge ramifications for each championship. Here, we take a look at the big talking points from the Moto2 and Moto3 classes.
For 14 laps on Sunday, this really looked like the race where Remy Gardner’s Moto2 title challenge would come apart. After title rival Raul Fernandez crashed out of qualifying, the Australian had a golden opportunity to gain a much-needed grid advantage. Instead, he changed front tyres mid-session, saw two of his late times chalked off because of yellow flags, and by the third his front had cooled down enough it lost optimum performance.
Sunday was looking much graver. Not only was he mired in the pack, facing a Long Lap Penalty for taking down Somkiat Chantra when contesting eighth place, Fernandez was putting in the kind of performance that confirms he is the next superstar of grand prix racing. Starting from ninth, he was on course for an eighth win of the season – a feat no rookie had achieved in the 72-year history of the intermediate class, never mind Moto2.
The Spaniard’s own weekend had been complicated. If one was to point to a weakness in his make up, Raul’s riding in wet and mixed conditions would probably be it. But he gave no ground away to Gardner all weekend. There was also the small matter of his feelings toward KTM. Veteran Spanish journalist Manuel Pecino had reported the rider from Madrid, who turned 21 on Saturday, was “angry” in the extreme at the Austrian factory’s decision to not find brother Adrian a permanent seat in the Moto3 class for 2022.
Moto3 standings after the Misano 2 round:
Results and summary of the Moto3 race at Emilia-Romagna:
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class at Emilia-Romagna:
The track was still wet on Saturday morning and with added mist, but that didn’t stop improvements on the timesheets quite early in the session, with Alberto Surra quickly demoting his teammate from the lead of the combined standings. Even though the rain and fog intensified towards the end of the session, riders continued their pursuit of the top 14 and Xavier Artigas picked up top spot on the final flying lap, three tenths of a second quicker than Yuki Kunii. Surra dropped to third, with Filip Salac and Ayumu Sasaki joining them in the top five.