As the tumultuous 2021 season moves on to the heartland of Spain, questions will be asked of the current top riders.
Let’s take a look at the first three Grand Prix’s of the season and what it will mean for the Championship.
Barwa Grand Prix of Qatar
The opening round of the 2021 season set the pace and expectations for riders and teams alike.
Sam Lowes, one of the most prominent title contenders of 2020 and a projected title contender of 2021, started the race off in pole position. Behind him: rookie Raul Fernandez and Bo Bendsneyder, both already Moto2 sensations. While Lowes didn’t get off the line well, Bezzecchi took the chance to get in front of the pack.
It wouldn’t last long. A few laps into the race, he would fall back into the pack and into the clutches of the Red Bull KTM’s before settling for fourth.
Fernandez and Gardner, one a rookie and one on the KTM for the first time, show that the bike is competitive and that they are a championship contender. Most of the race was their battle with Fabio Di Giannantonio, Bezzecchi and Remy Gardner.
One of the highlights of the race has to be the battle between Bezzecchi and Gardner- the KTM rider fears nothing when it comes to close contact.
In the end, Lowes won the race with a 2.2 second lead, with Gardner and Di Giannantonio right behind him. The real stars of the race were the KTM’s- changing factory teams is never an easy feat and both Fernandez and Gardner did so with admirable grace.
Some of the disappointments of the race were with Baldassari and Roberts; both riders who can be top contenders.
The race ended with Lowes on top, followed by Gardner and Di Giannantonio.
TISSOT Grand Prix of Doha
With lessons learned from the first round in the desert, the final run in the setting sun promised retribution. Once again, Lowes was in pole position, but the first corner would go to Gardner and Bezzcchi. The number 72 was determined to do better than he had the week before, with Fernandez wanting a taste of the podium.
Some of the riders who excelled and learned from past mistakes were Aaron Canet, Manzi and Ai Ogura. They battled in the top ten, sniffing out the possibility of a podium but barely missed the mark- Canet with a crash at turn 16. The dominant bike was once again the KTM, but the dominant rider was Sam Lowes.
The highlight of this race was the battle between the two main KTM’s and Joe Roberts. There were many moments where a small mistake could send one of the riders flying off the track. It was definitely impressive to see Roberts battle it out.
Even with the battle between Lowes and Gardner in the final sector, the podium was still stained with orange and blue- Lowes, Gardner and then Fernandez.
But could they continue this triumphant run in Portugal?
Grand Premio 888 de Portugal
As the first race in Europe, this set the pace for the rest of the season. Sam Lowes crashed out on the first corner of the first lap after he fluffed the start. With Lowes out of the picture, there was nothing stopping Gardner and Bezzecchi as they battled it out. With the battle at the front keeping things open, Roberts had a taste of podium contention, barely touching first. Surprise from Canet allowed the rider to battle for first, Bezzecchi suffering from tire issues 10 laps in.
Unlike the two races in the desert, the front positions were in constant battle.
Once Fernandez was at the front, there was nothing stopping him. He created a near 2 second lead from the group trying for second.
The highlight of this race had to be the fact that Montella and Manzi walked away from a horrific crash. Not only did their race end in flames, but the tumbling bikes could have seriously injured them.
In Moto2 style last lap battle, it was Canet, Roberts and Gardner battling for the podium. While Roberts was going to get a podium, he was pushed out of the turn by Gardner and lost the chance of a podium. In the end, it was in fact Fernandez, Canet and Gardner.
As the teams prepare for Spain- who will come out on top? Will it be the rookie sensation or will Lowes show his hand in Europe?
We will all find out this Sunday, in Jerez.