Beaubier, Ramirez show speed in qualifying for Portuguese Grand Prix

American Racing is back to nearly full strength for the Grand Prix of Portugal, Round 3 of the FIM Moto2 World Championship.

At the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, known for its challenging elevation changes and blind corner entries, Cameron Beaubier and Marcos Ramirez delivered their best qualifying performances of the season.

In Free Practice 3, Ramirez posted the fifth-quickest lap of the session, 1:42.997, transferring directly to Qualifying 2. The 23-year-old Spaniard missed the opening two rounds of the series at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar with a shoulder injury.

Five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Beaubier cut more than a second from his best lap time on Friday. He was third in Q1, advancing to Q2. The 28-year-old American will start Sunday’s 23-lap race from 13th on the grid.

“I felt pretty good in qualifying today, with a couple changes that we made,” said Beaubier. “I am happy because I know I could have been faster if I cleaned up some stuff. I definitely need to improve the last split.”

Ramirez, 11th in November’s Moto2 race at Portimão, could not replicate his performance from the morning session and will start 17th.

American Racing Team Owner Eitan Butbul had mixed feelings about qualifying at the 2.85-mile circuit with its nine right-hand turns and six lefts.

“Cameron started in Q1, but he performed very well and managed to get into Q2,” said Butbul. “We were sure he would be able to get into the top 10, but he got caught in traffic all session and couldn’t made the perfect lap. Still, we are happy. We see his progress, and his lap times are consistent.

“On Marcos’ side, we started the weekend with minimum expectation due to his injury, but he showed that he is strong and managed to finish fifth in FP3. We are a bit disappointed that he couldn’t qualify in the top 10, but he, as well, couldn’t find the perfect lap and ended up 17th.”

For the third consecutive race weekend, Marc VDS rider Sam Lowes earned pole position. Lowes won the first two races and is the championship points leader.

“The race tomorrow will tough,” said Butbul, “but I know both riders are fighters and will push hard.”