Since it’s inaugural year the Moto2 championship has been hotly contested and hard fought, providing some of the closest overtakes and intense battles in the paddock.
Starting where it left off, every session has so far had a different leader – FP1 went to Mika Kallio, FP2 Taka Nakagami and FP3 saw Sandro Cortese top the timesheets.
Here’s a breakdown of who’s been fastest and who else to watch out for in Moto2.
Taka Nakagami – Idemitsu Honda Team Asia
|Nakagami is hoping to get his first win this season!
Photo: Idemitsu Honda Team Asia
The nearly-man of 2013, Nakagami lead many races – yet a win remained elusive. In a season dominated by the battle for the title between Scott Redding and Pol Espargaro the Japanese rider never quite got into his groove.
Nakagami also holds the fastest overall time so far with his effort from the second track session.
|Rabat impresses under the lights in the desert
Photo: Marc VDS
Esteve ‘Tito’ Rabat – Marc VDS Racing
In a case of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ Tito Rabat took the plunge and joined his ex-Pons teams key rivals from the 2013 season – Marc VDS – replacing the MotoGP bound Scott Redding.
Solid partner to the reigning champion Pol Espargaro, now also in MotoGP, Rabat managed some great results of his own last year, earning himself two victories and third overall behind the title leaders.
The change of scenery sees him leave his sponsored rider number, you now need to find a bold 53 circling the track, but not lose any pace, instantly saddling himself with the dubious honour of being touted as the pre-season favourite.
Rabat, after a successful testing campaign is yet to lead a session at Qatar, yet has stealthily posted the second best time overall.
Sandro Cortese – Dynavolt Intact GP
|Cortese got his season off to a flying start
Photo: Intact GP
Former Moto3 title winner Cortese has taken a while to find his feet in Moto2, but his results improved massively during his rookie season and he finished the final practice session ahead of qualifying on top, with the third best time with all sessions combined.
|Domi hopes score points this time out
Photo: Team Technomag carXpert
Dominique Aegerter – Technomag carXpert
Fourth fastest so far, Dominique Aegerter is now just one of two riders to have competed in every Moto2 race, a statistic shared with Simone Corsi, as both men have clocked up four years in the class.
Aegerter has become the standard for consistency – the Swiss rider has clocked up 33 successive point scoring race finishes. 15thor higher at Losail will see him match the long standing record of 34 finishes, set by Luca Caladora back when the intermediate class was 250cc racing between 1990-92.
The last race he didn’t score a point at was in Qatar.
Maverick Vinales – Pons HP 40
|Vinales arrives as reigning Moto3 champion
Photo: Pons HP 40
Maverick Vinales is so far the top rookie performer after arriving in Moto2 as the Moto3 reigning champion, winning an exceptionally tight final three-way battle to claim the crown.
He has brought his fighting spirit with him, with the fifth best time so far in Qatar, he is also joined at the Pons team by one of his two title rivals from Moto3 – Luis Salom, currently 17 quickest.
The Best Of The Rest:
In a class packed with talent and, similarly to Moto3, with the top 15 covered by just a second, many riders in with a chance of a podium finish.
Interwetten regular Tom Luthi wasn’t even in Qatar last year after a testing crash saw him out of action until May, he is currently sixth best overall and, crucially, uninjured.
Marc VDS rider Mika Kallio could give the team a strong overall showing after being the fastest in the opening session under the floodlights too.
Points challenges are also to be expected from fellow former MotoGP rider Alex De Angelis (Tasca Racing), battling Johann Zarco (Caterham), AGR’s Jonas Folger and Gresini’s Belgian rider Xavier Simeon, who is fully recovered from his crash at a private pre-season test.
Also worth looking out for are Brit newcomer Sam Lowes at Speed Up and determined privateer Gino Rea, with his own AGT REA racing team.
The red Aspar bikes may be harder to spot, unusually off the pace Nico Terol and Jordi Torres are currently sitting in 14th and 22ndrespectively.