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Petronas Sprinta Racing’s John McPhee created history at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France by becoming the first rider to progress from Q1 to then go on to take pole position, his first outright pole position since Argentina 2017.
The Scotsman left it late by moving to the top of the timesheets with his penultimate lap of the session, but despite fast laps from Japanese chargers Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) with the chequered flag out, McPhee held on to be the fifth different rider to take Moto3™ pole from the opening five rounds of the season.
McPhee topped Q1 but only after his final lap sent him top of the timesheets, avoiding disappointment unlike Argentina GP winner Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai), with the man currently third in the World Championship due to start from 23rd on the grid. Once in Q2, the Petronas Sprinta Racing rider set a 1:42.277 on slick tyres, with the track having dried from this morning’s wet FP3 session, which earnt him pole position from VNE Snipers’ Tony Arbolino.
Ogura will round out the front of the grid thanks to his last lap of the session, a career best qualifying result for the 18-year-old after a previous best of 15th in Qatar. Compatriot Suzuki is not far behind in fourth, 0.052 of a second to be precise, ahead of Kömmerling Gresini Moto3’s Gabriel Rodrigo. Leopard Racing’s Marcos Ramirez, another of the men to have moved through from Q1, rounds out row two in sixth.
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Moto3™ Q2 in France: the lightweight grid takes shape
Despite a third crash of the weekend, and a second at Turn 3, SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Niccolo Antonelli responded by setting a lap that will see him front row three of the grid. The Italian is aiming to become the first double race winner of the 2019 season, as is Honda Team Asia’s Kaito Toba, who joins Antonelli on row three in ninth.
Sandwiched inbetween the Spanish GP and the Qatar GP race winners is Raul Fernandez, who ended eighth quickest but has been hit with a 12-place grid penalty meaning he’ll line up down in 20th on the grid. Tenth quickest in Q2 was Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Sergio Garcia, the third rider to have moved through from Q1, but he was also handed a 12-place penalty moving him down to 22nd on the gird. Therefore, the fortunate to man to have qualified eleventh yet will line up on row three of grid is Bester Capital Dubai’s Andrea Migno.
1. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) 1:42.277
2. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) + 0.190
3. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) + 0.238
4. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.290
5. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmering Gresini Moto3) + 0.466
6. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) + 0.615
7. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.674
8. Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) + 0.684*
9. Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) + 0.692
10. Sergio Garica (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 0.711*
* = 12 place grid penalty
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