The 2019 WorldSSP300 received a late call-up to compete in Moto2™ at the TT Circuit Assen and finished the race just outside the top 20 after limited running before the race
2019 FIM Supersport World Championship title winner Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team) made his Moto2™ World Championship debut in the Dutch GP at TT Circuit Assen and impressed to come home in 22nd place in the 24-lap race for the MV Agusta Forward Racing outfit, in place of the injured Lorenzo Baldassarri.
The Spanish rider, who is in his second season of the FIM Supersport World Championship and almost secured his first podium last time out at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli”, received such a late call-up to replace Baldassarri that he missed the opening Free Practice 1 session in Moto2™, before taking to the track and finishing 13th in a wet Free Practice 2 in The Netherlands.
Missing FP1 meant Gonzalez’s dry running was limited throughout the weekend to Free Practice 3 and qualifying before heading into the race. Gonzalez qualified in 29th place for the race on the final row of the grid although started from 28th after Hector Garzo received a positive COVID-19 test. Gonzalez had been running as high as 20th with around eight and nine laps to go but a Long Lap Penalty for exceeding track limits meant the Spanish rider fell back down the order.
Gonzalez spent the first nine laps of the race consistently improving his pace in the 24-lap race but was unable to keep that momentum going after the tenth lap throughout his first race in Moto2™, and ended up finishing in 22nd place with a best lap of 1’37.928s. Gonzalez finished one place behind teammate Simone Corsi.
Looking back on his Moto2™ debut, Gonzalez said: “The opportunity was incredible because on Thursday afternoon I was at home watching the TV! My team manager called me to ask if I wanted to ride in Moto2™. I was very, very happy and tried to arrive as soon as possible. I couldn’t do FP1, but I tried to know the bike lap by lap because it was my first time on a Moto2™ bike and also on Dunlop tyres, they’re different from Pirelli tyres.
“FP2 was in wet conditions and it was good to see the bike in slow times but then FP3, I was fast, but the bike is very different from the WorldSSP bike, the riding style is completely different. Also, with the tyres, you have to use the gas in a different mode, so I was improving stint by stint. In Warm Up, I was going very fast. I did a really good lap; I was very happy with the bike. In the race, I was trying to stay in the back group, but I knew I had to finish the race.”
TT Circuit Assen is where Gonzalez will next race in WorldSSP when the Championship visits at the end of the month, and the Spanish rider hopes his outing in Moto2™ will allow him to fight for victory. He said: “I hope to fight for the win. We are there in the front group so this was a perfect training for me and to see the track on a fast bike, I hope to be there in the group.”
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