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Masbou takes first Moto3™ pole of 2015

Masbou takes first Moto3™ pole of 2015

SAXOPRINT RTG’s Alexis Masbou utilised the slipstream around the Losail International Circuit perfectly to claim a career first pole.

Just one second split the top 18 Moto3™ riders at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, with a slipstream once again proving vital in the crowded qualifying session. Many of the teams including Red Bull KTM Ajo, Mapfre Team Mahindra and Estrella Galicia 0,0 sent their riders out in a group during the early part of Qualifying to ensure a solid base lap. A slipstream down the straight at Losail can be worth up to five tenths of a second in Moto3™, especially as there was a strong headwind today.

Masbou was able to capitalise on his considerable experience in the lightweight class, setting a 2’06.170s on his 11th lap of the session, as he was able to tag onto the back of other riders. All of the top five were within 0.085s of each other, with Masbou’s SAXOPRINT RTG teammate John McPhee finishing fifth despite being only 0.084s slower than the French rider.

On his Husqvarna debut Isaac Viñales finished in second, matching his best ever qualifying from Brno last season. Continuing his pace from practice and testing, Niccolo Antonelli completes the front row just 0.008s behind Viñales. His Ongetta-Rivacold teammate Jules Danilo achieved his best ever qualifying result in 18th.

Francesco Bagnaia led the Mahindra charge, fighting up to fourth on the grid. The young Italian will be looking to go one better than Oliveira who finished fourth on the Mahindra at Qatar last year. The Mahindra Moto3™ machine has undergone significant development in the off season as they look to mount a regular podium challenge. Andrea Locatelli took advantage of Bagnaia’s tow to impress on his Gresini Racing Team Moto3 debut, starting from seventh.

French rookie Fabio Quartararo was challenging for the front row, even without the aid of a slipstream, for the majority of the session. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider eventually finishing sixth, having never raced under floodlights or at the Losail track before. “Jorge [Navarro] and I helped each other out a lot, but we lacked experience to use the slipstream better, I have still got a lot to learn,” Quartararo said, eager for his first race in Moto3™.

Despite leading the way in Free Practice, both Miguel Oliveira and Danny Kent had tricky qualifying sessions. The pair will start from the third row in eighth and ninth respectively.  “Tomorrow we will concentrate on getting a good start and getting to the front at the start of the race, then see what happens,” reflected Oliveira. Looking at race pace, both Kent and Oliveira are able to lap in the mid to low 2’06s whereas several of the riders ahead struggled with consistent laps times. Both will be a threat if they can stick with the opening group in the early laps.

Qualifying was once again a struggle for Romano Fenati, the Italian unable to get a slipstream as his SKY Racing Team VR46 Teammate Andrea Migno continues to learn the KTM. The pair having been hindered by the limited dry testing time, unable to explore setup options. Fenati will have to battle from 17th tomorrow, fortunately Fenati is always a threat despite lacklustre grid positions.

Click here for the full results from Moto3™ QP.


Moto3, 2015, COMMERCIAL BANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR, QP, Isaac Viñales, Alexis Masbou, Niccolò Antonelli

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