The lightweight class got their last opportunity to reduce their workload for Saturday afternoon but they were in no rush to challenge the hierarchy from Friday until the two time attacks in the final third of the session. Dennis Foggia was the first to attack the top of the combined standings with 15 minutes remaining and then reclaimed the lead at the checkered flag by two hundredths of a second. Rookie Izan Guevara also held top spot towards the end but dropped to second after failing to go quicker on his final flying lap.
Asphalt continued to get hotter as the day progressed at Motorland and it helped Deniz Öncü in posting the fastest time of the day in the final minute of FP2. The Turkish rider ended the session half a tenth faster than rookie Izan Guevara, who briefly led the way before getting demoted to a still impressive second place. Darryn Binder climbed up to third, with Sergio Garcia making significant progress to join the top four after a slower start in FP1. Jaume Masia also stepped up to fifth, ahead of Filip Salac and Niccolò Antonelli, who finished within three tenths of the leader.
Aragon greeted lightweight class riders with beautiful end of summer conditions, blue sky and reasonably warm asphalt. Although the setting was quite different to last time out, the same familiar faces were featured at the front early on. After Romano Fenati led the way for much of FP1, a late time attack placed Gabriel Rodrigo at the top, six hundredths of a second ahead of Filip Salac. Niccolò Antonelli also finished the morning within a tenth of a second of the leader, after briefly leading the way too.
Even for a team manager of Aki Ajo’s standing, 2021 has been quite the year. The Finn has resided over one of the most successful seasons ever for his squad as his riders Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez contest the Moto2 World Championship, while Pedro Acosta comfortably leads the Moto3 standings.
The success of Ajo’s team came into focus at the recent Austrian Grand Prix, where Fernandez scored the 100th victory for Ajo Motorsport, quite an achievement for a squad that made its debut with Mika Kallio all the way back in 2001. Incredibly, his riders have won 14 of the 24 races in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes this year.
But more than results, the Finn and his slick Red Bull KTM Ajo structure play a key role in developing and educating young talent for the Austrian factory. Take a look at the current MotoGP grid and Marc Márquez, Johann Zarco, Jack Miller, Miguel Oliveira, Brad Binder, Jorge Martin and, to a lesser extent, Iker Lecuona have all passed through his garage – that’s 31% of the current MotoGP grid.
In his own words, Ajo sees his job as “50% is to achieve results and 50% to educate and develop riders for the future, for MotoGP.” That is just one of many topics covered in this interview, held in June before the summer break. Across 20 minutes Ajo also shared his thoughts on maintaining team harmony when both his riders are fighting for a title, working with the bright talents of Fernandez and Acosta and how to fix the current problem that is Moto3.
Q: What has been the secret to your team’s success in 2021?
After an incident packed weekend, we look at some of the big stories coming out of the British Grand Prix in the junior categories, including a massive day in the Moto2 title race and one of the more dominant Moto3 showings in recent times.
Gardner stakes his claim
By season’s end, Raul Fernandez may rue his decision to talk up his chances so confidently on Friday. Fresh from a stunning victory in Austria, the 20-year old was full of swagger after topping FP2. “In the last race I did one click in the mentality,” he said that afternoon. “Now I know I can fight for the title, I am very strong in all conditions, all tracks.”
If those comments were aimed at intimidating team-mate and championship leader Remy Gardner, they had the opposite effect. The Australian wasn’t one for headline times through practice and qualifying. Yet on Sunday he produced arguably his best performance to date in a high-stakes battle with Marco Bezzecchi to win his fourth race of the season. Crucially, Fernandez buckled, crashing out of seventh on lap 15 at Farm curve With hindsight, it was perhaps best to leave his talking to after the race.
Moto3 standings after Silverstone:
Results and summary of the Moto3 race at Silverstone:
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class at Silverstone:
Another cold morning in Silverstone meant that riders were slow to get up to speed and challenge for Q2 positions. Times eventually started to rival FP2 ones in the final 15 minutes of the session and the final shootout for the top 14 got underway with five minutes remaining, when Romano Fenati, who didn’t even need to go out to secure a Q2 ticket, did so regardless and casually improved his own all-time lap record by over half a second.