Qualifying for the Moto3 World Championship in Brno began in wet conditions, as rain prior to the session soaked the track.
Q1 saw Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) top the session from Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race), Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo) despite a late crash for the Turk. These would be the four riders to move through to Q2.
The rain got heavier throughout Q2, but just before its intensity peaked for the session, Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) was able to put himself clear of the pack by eight tenths. Although this gap was soon reduced, no one was able to beat the Italian’s 2’18.020 lap time which gained the #14 pole position for the Czech Grand Prix.
A late lap from John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) in the height of the rain’s intensity was enough to put the Scotsman second on the grid, whilst Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was a few seconds behind McPhee on track and, despite having to pass Filip Salac (Redox PruestelGP) in the penultimate corner, was able to qualify third-fastest.
Starting from the front row is always important, but especially in Brno it can be useful to take a good grid position to avoid the inevitable melee in turn three on the opening lap.
The front of the second row will be occupied tomorrow by Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), and the Japanese will be joined on row two by Raul Fernandez who crashed late on in Q2, and Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) who will be buoyed overnight by the start-line advantage he has over his main championship rival, Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing).
Row three sees Makar Yurchenko start from his career-best qualifying position of seventh, with Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) and Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) joining him on the third row.
Alonso Lopez completes the top ten and heads up row four, ahead of fellow Honda riders, Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers), who was on the podium in Brno back in 2017 in the wet, and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia).
Can Oncu was able to get out for Q2 despite his crash at the end of Q1 and qualified thirteenth ahead of Filip Salac and Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) who join the Turk on row five.
Row six sees Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) ahead of the two Leopard Racing bikes of Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Marcos Ramirez, in seventeenth and eighteenth respectively. Dalla Porta had a bike problem – possibly a symptom of a gear-change issue from FP3 in the morning – at the beginning of the session and had limited track time as a result. The slipstream is strong in Brno thanks to the quantity of straights, despite their short length, and Dalla Porta will need to make the most of this tomorrow if he is to reach Canet who is starting eleven positions ahead.
Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) crashed in Q1 and was the first of the riders to be eliminated from the first session. He will be joined on row seven by last year’s pole sitter Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) and Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power).
Row eight sees Dennis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46) – confirmed to be leaving the VR46 organisation at the end of 2019 – in front of wildcard Yuki Kunii (Asia Talent Team) and Sachsenring pole sitter Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing).
Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) heads up row nine ahead of Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and wildcard Deniz Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo); whilst Riccardo Rossi (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) heads up the last row from Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power), who crashed in Q1, and Stefano Nepa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77).
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) did not take part in qualifying after a free practice 2 crash on Friday afternoon which left him with a broken pelvis and collarbone, and out of at least the Czech and Austrian rounds of the 2019 Moto3 World Championship.