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Antonelli stayed upright in a difficult session to take pole from Binder and rookie Canet.
Three different riders had topped the three Free Practice sessions ahead of Qualifying, the Moto3™ World Championship again beginning with no clear pole favourite. Friday’s afternoon session saw track temperatures of close to 40°C, Qualifying on Saturday saw the track at 27°C. From the start of the session riders were reminded of the importance of staying within track limits, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) one of many to have a lap time cut for exceeding track limits at Turn 10.
Binder would soon go quicker as he, Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) traded fastest times. Towards the end of the session Bulega suffered a huge highside on the exit of Turn 4, getting to his feet but holding his left wrist. Fortunately the tall Italian was unharmed.
Riders were pushing till the end, Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) snatching pole position with his final lap thanks to a 1’42.756. From his previous four pole positions Antonelli has always finished inside the top ten, he won the 2015 Czech GP from pole, his first victory in the World Championship.
0.067s behind Antonelli, Binder was unable to best the Italian as the front row was tighter than ever in the lightweight class. Given Binder’s performance in Jerez, he’ll certainly be battling for victory from the front row.
For the first time in his fledgling Moto3™ World Championship career, Aron Canet will start from the front row of the grid. The Spaniard won the 2015 FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship race in Le Mans and was only 0.086s off pole in 2016.
His teammate, Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) will start from fourth with Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) lining up fifth.
Even with the crash, Bulega was able to hold onto sixth, all of the top six riders were within 0.15s. Juanfran Guevara (RBA Racing Team), Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing), Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) completed the top ten. Of the top ten, four are rookies.
The session got off to a difficult start for Fabio Spiranelli (CIP-Unicom Starker) and Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) as they both fell at Turn 7 while on their first flying laps.
Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) fell at Turn 7 with Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) crashing not long after at Turn 4.
Having topped Free Practice 3, Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) was forced to settle for 11th after crashing at Turn 13.
Local rider Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) suffered a hard fall at Turn 12, ending what had been a promising weekend at home. Danilo wasn’t the only French rider to crash, Quartararo also had a small fall in the gravel of Turn 7 after running on.
After the session Fabio Di Giannantonio was handed a three place grid penalty for riding slowly in three sectors. Both Enzo Boulom (Procercasa – 42 Motorsport) and Karel Hanika (Platinum Bay Real Estate) were handed four place grid penalties for the same offence, having been penalised previously.
Moto3™ Warm Up begins at 8:40 Local Time, starting a day of intense racing action at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France on Sunday. The lightweight class race is scheduled for 11:00 Local Time.
Full times can be seen here.
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