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Antonelli takes second pole of the season in Moto3™

Antonelli takes second pole of the season in Moto3™

Niccolo Antonelli took his third career pole position ahead of Jorge Navarro and Miguel Oliveira, with Danny Kent in ninth after a penalty.

Ongetta-Rivacold’s Antonelli left it late to set a 2’12.653 to claim pole at the Sepang International Circuit in an incredibly tight session that saw less than a second separate the top 14 riders. The 19-year-old Italian kept a cool head in a session that once again saw a number of riders riding slowly on the racing line, with Race Direction awarding six penalties after the session. It is Antonelli’s first pole since Brno and he finished 0.047s ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Jorge Navarro in second.

Navarro had been down in eighth after FP3 on combined times, but improved by over seven-tenths in the hotter conditions (Track temp. 43˚C) during Qualifying to claim his fifth front row start of 2015. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira (0.240s) completed the front row, as the Portuguese rider aims to prevent Kent winning the title at Sepang. It was Oliveira’s 7th front row start of the year.

Drive M7 SIC’s Jakub Kornfeil (+0.334s) will start from fourth at his team’s home grand prix in his best qualifying performance since he qualified in the same position at Le Mans. The Czech rider clearly making use of the fact his team gets to test a lot at the circuit in the offseason.

Sky Racing Team VR46’s Romano Fenati (+0.616s) will start from the middle of the second row for the second race in a row, ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (+0.888s) on the Mapfre Team Mahindra in sixth. It was Bagnaia’s best qualifying performance since he qualified in third at Le Mans. Leopard Racing’s Efren Vazquez (+0.303s) will start from the head of the third row after originally qualifying in fourth. The Spaniard being one of the riders to receive a three-place gird penalty for riding slowly on the racing line.

Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Team Moto3) is eighth, ahead of Championship leader Kent (+0.341s) who will start from the back of the third row. Kent was another of the riders to receive a penalty after originally qualifying in sixth. The Brit being penalized three places for riding slowly on the racing line after getting frustrated at riders trying to get a tow from him during the session. Kent even went through pit-lane at one point to try to lose the line of riders behind him in the last few minutes. Eventually he shook most of them off and managed to set a flying lap that was good enough for sixth, before he was relegated to ninth. It is the second race in a row that Kent has received a penalty, after being relegated six places on the grid at Phillip Island.

Local hero Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Drive M7 SIC) completed the top ten in what is his best qualifying performance since he started from the front row at Indianapolis. Scotsman John McPhee recovered from a huge crash in FP3 to qualify in 12th. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (23rd) and Gabriel Rodrigo (20th) were caught up in an incident at turn 15 that saw both men crash out, while Ana Carrasco will be forced to start from 29th on the grid after a big crash at turn 5 halfway through the session.

Andrea Migno (27th), Isaac Viñales (18th), Manuel Pagliani (30th) and Remy Gardner (31st) were the other riders to be hit with a three-place grid penalty by Race Direction.

Alessandro Tonucci was declared unfit after a crash in FP2, while Andrea Locatelli withdrew from the weekend after FP1 due to pain from his injured coccyx.

Check out the full Moto3™ Qualifying results; the 18-lap race is due to start at 12:00 local time on Sunday.

Tags:
Moto3, 2015, SHELL MALAYSIA MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX, QP, Niccolò Antonelli, Miguel Oliveira, Jorge Navarro, Ongetta-Rivacold

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