The first qualifying session for the Argentinian Moto3 Grand Prix got underway in overcast conditions which characterised the weekend.
From Q1, Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai), Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) and Jakub Kornfeil (PruestelGP) joined the top fourteen riders from the three free practice sessions for the Q2 pole position shootout.
Disappointed to miss out on that Q2 shootout for Moto3 would have been Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), in particular, but a crash late on prevented Oncu from securing his place whilst his rivals continued to improve and Foggia took a late trip through pit lane – presumably to shake competitors from his tail – which cost him a vital slipstream on the main straight as well as through turn six, which is flat out on a Moto3 bike.
For the first five minutes of Q2, nobody left pit lane. When people did, they came straight back into the pits, not setting a time. The format of Moto3 qualifying may have changed but the games remain, and they are just as frustrating.
As frustrating as it was, the lack of activity in the first ten minutes of Moto3 Q2 meant that the final five were quite spectacular, with several riders vying for pole position in their final three or four laps.
It mostly came down to track position, and who was around. Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) almost fell foul of this, after having the final sector of his third-last lap baulked by traffic, before which he had been looking good for pole. However, the Spaniard regrouped for the next lap and set provisional pole, which two minutes later became Masia’s first pole position in Moto3. After such a difficult preseason for the Spanish youngster, with injuries which were affecting him even in Qatar three weeks ago, this result will be important for his confidence, especially for Sunday’s race where a first podium in the World Championship appears a real possibility.
Aron Canet took second place on the grid, in similar fashion to John McPhee (Petronas SRT) in Qatar who went through Q1 to qualify on the second row. Despite the speed of Masia in Q2, Canet remains a strong favourite for the win tomorrow, and will be looking to put an end to his dry run which stretches back to Silverstone 2017.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) qualified on pole position last season in Termas, so it was not a surprise to see him round out the front row of the grid, and ensure some Honda presence at the very head of the field. Despite his good record from last year on Saturday, the Italian will not be hoping for a repeat of his Sunday performance of twelve months ago, as it then saw him mistakenly fit slick tyres, which ultimately cost him any chance of a good result.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) will be content with his fourth place ahead of Sunday’s race, and will hope to be able to back up his round one podium from there. Joining the Italian on the second row are compatriots Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse) and Andrea Migno.
A fourth consecutive Italian lines up seventh, in the shape of VNE Snipers’ Romano Fenati, who had a typically average qualifying, joining round one victor Kaito Toba (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas SRT) on row three.
Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) impressively rounded out the top ten in qualifying on his first visit to Termas, and will be joined on the fourth row by a disappointed John McPhee and Leopard Racing’s Marcos Ramirez.
Home rider Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini Racing), Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse) and Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) will make up fifth row, whilst row six will consist of Jakub Kornfeil, Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Vicente Perez who was the slowest of the Q2 runners in eighteenth.
Featured Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM