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He may have been pushed back to the second row, but Kent is confident as ever while Bastianini hunts for first win.
The majority of the weekend has seen Britain’s Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) topping sessions and breaking lap records. His pace throughout the weekend has been nearly untouchable; in FP3 he set three laps in the low 1’42 range and a further three dropping into the 1’41 bracket, continuing to improve on this in Qualifying.
“Of course we’re a little disappointed, but it wasn’t too bad. Our race pace is strong even on old tyres, but tomorrow is where you get the points. The second row isn’t too much of a big problem as I came from the back in Le Mans,” said Kent. He may have been bumped down to the second row of the grid, but this pace will surely see him at the front come Saturday’s race, the riders above him perhaps not as strong over race distance as their grid positions portray.
For the second race in a row Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Team) will begin from pole. The Italian has impressed many in his season and a half racing in the Moto3™ World Championship and is a rider able to produce special things come race day. His pace in FP3 and Qualifying was mixed at best, but he has finished on the podium after qualifying outside the top 15 on multiple occasions. As such he may worry Kent despite this apparent lack of pace: “I didn’t have a strategy to get this pole, this morning we weren’t very fast. Kent is fast over many laps but I think I had a good pace in Qualifying to stay with him.”
In FP3 Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was consistent, but consistent in the 1’43s. This pace is at least half a second slower overall than that of Kent. Joining Navarro on the front row for the first time is Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo). The Czech rider enjoys the fast and flowing Dutch track and has had a double victory in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, but his pace this weekend has been mixed at best. Hanika is in dire need of a strong finish; he’s in his second year with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team but has failed to finish in the points at the last four races. His front row position may enable Hanika to fight with Kent at the early stages of the race but without any incidents the Britain has a clear advantage.
A rider that few may expect to challenge Kent is Fabio Quartararo. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider begins in seventh but his FP3 pace was the closest to Kent, the French rookie able to lap in the mid to low 1’42s with ease. It’s important to remember this is not only his first season in the World Championship but also his first ever time at Assen, Quartararo secured his first podium in Austin earlier this year under similar circumstances. He’ll be one to watch no doubt especially as, like Hanika, he's hungry for a solid result after a small dip in performance.
Part of the appeal of Moto3™ is that almost anything can happen come race day and huge groups of ten riders, or more, can all dice for victory. Kent certainly can’t be complacent in the rough seas of Moto3™, but if he is able to get a few laps alone the Brit has the pace to break away.
The Moto3™ will kick off at 11:00 Local Time. Full results from Qualifying available.
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