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A highly tactical session demonstrated the importance of a fast banker lap, Fenati, Migno and Pawi forming the front row.
Track temperature rose above 42°C as Qualifying for the Gran Premio d'Italia TIM began in the lightweight class. Attention was on Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) after his big crash in Free Practice 3, the South African was sore but was hopeful of pushing throughout the session. As has become common in the Moto3™ World Championship, riders eagerly waited for Binder in order to get a slipstream.
Niccolo Antonelli’s (Ongetta Rivacold) 1’57.789 was the benchmark before the session. His chance of improving that time quickly become zero as the Italian fell at Turn 15, his bike heading straight into the wall and snapping in two. Antonelli was up and walking, but his session was over.
Going into the final ten minutes Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Brad Binder stood as the fastest riders, KTM locking out the top three. With a slipstream worth over a second around the Mugello circuit, the scene was set for a tactical final five minutes.
Fenati’s time would be enough to take his third career pole position, his first in Mugello. Times didn’t quite match the pole position record of 2015, Fenati over half a second slower than Danny Kent’s record as the Italian secured pole with a 1’57.289.
Second had originally been awarded to Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) but his fastest time was cancelled due to exceeding the track limits at Turn 5. As such Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) was promoted from third to second, SKY Racing Team VR46 taking an incredible one-two. This is Migno’s first ever front row start in the World Championship. Both he and Fenati will run special liveries for their home round.
Winner of the Argentina GP, Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) will line up third thanks to a 1’57.605. Like Migno, this is Pawi’s first front row start in the World Championship. Since winning in Argentina, the Malaysian has had trouble recreating his incredible pace and could be a surprise podium challenger on Sunday.
Brad Binder was unable to improve the 1’57.661 he set midway through the session as traffic again proved a challenge to deal with. The South African remains confident about his chances in the race. Jorge Navarro’s (Estrella Galicia 0,0) strategy in Qualifying didn’t quite pan out as he missed a final flying lap, but was still able to grab fifth place and will start just behind the championship leader.
Even with a still healing wrist, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) was able to take sixth place and end within a second of his countryman’s best time. Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46), Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3), Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) rounded out the top ten. Five out of the top ten riders were Italian, thrilling the fans who cheered from the hillside.
After his fall, Antonelli ended the session in 22nd and will have significant work to do during the race.
Davide Pizzoli (Procercasa – 42 Motorsport) chose to withdraw from the weekend due to an injury he sustained before Le Mans.
Moto3™ will first be out on Sunday for Warm Up at 08:40 before racing begins at 11:00 Local Time.
The full grid and results from Qualifying can be seen here.
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