Moto3: Q1 to Pole for McPhee in Le Mans

The dry weather of Friday was replaced by rain in Le Mans come Saturday morning for the fifth round of the 2019 Moto3 World Championship.

By the end of the FP3 session in the morning, the track had begun to dry, and almost the entirety of Moto3’s Q1 session was run on slick tyres. A late lap from John McPhee (Petronas SRT) took him through to Q2 as the fastest rider in Q1. The Scot was joined by Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0).

John McPhee, Moto3, French MotoGP 2019. Image courtesy of SIC Racing Team/Petronas SRT

It was expected that, because of the sketchy conditions, those riders who advanced through Q1 would have an advantage over the other fourteen Q2 runners in the second session.

This proved to be the case for John McPhee, who took pole position with his penultimate lap of the session. It will be important for McPhee – who has mostly disappointed in the opening four races of the season – to turn this good Saturday result into a good position in the race.

The Scot will be joined on the front row by Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), who has been fast all weekend, and the rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia).
Fresh from his first World Championship podium two weeks ago in Spain, Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse) took fourth on the grid for the French Moto3 Grand Prix, with Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) and Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) joining him on the second row.

The Spanish Grand Prix winner, Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse) crashed for the second time this weekend at turn three which limited the Italian to seventh.

Eighth fastest in Q2 was Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), but a penalty for irresponsible riding in FP2 will see the Spaniard start twentieth. Instead, Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) will start from the middle of row three. This should have put Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) in ninth, but the Spanish rookie also took a twelve-place penalty and will start twenty-second. Because of this, Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) who will start from the back of the third row.

Makar Yurchenko will start Sunday’s race from tenth, with Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) and championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) who completes row four.

Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) crashed at turn three on his final flying lap in Q2, and will start thirteenth, ahead of Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) and Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) who also crashed in Q2; whilst Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Filip Salac (Redox Pruestel GP) comprise row six.

Spanish GP podium finisher Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) could only manage nineteenth on the grid, and will start alongside the penalised Fernandez, and Jakub Kornfeil (Redox Pruestel GP) who will be hoping for fewer motocross memes after this year’s French Moto3 Grand Prix.

Can Oncu, Moto3, French MotoGP 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

The penalised Garcia will have former joint championship leader Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas SRT) alongside him on row eight; whilst behind on row nine will be Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Arizona 77), Riccardo Rossi (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) and Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power) was the slowest qualifier, but will start second-last as his teammate Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) was also penalised twelve positions, which puts him last on Sunday’s grid.

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