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Untouchable Kent claims Moto3™ pole position

 Untouchable Kent claims Moto3™ pole position

Danny Kent achieves pole position at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, setting a new lap record in the process.

Despite heavy fog in the morning, both FP3 and Qualifying were fully dry for the Moto3™ riders in Austin. Rain was predicted during the closing stages of Qualifying but held off, allowing Danny Kent to charge to pole position. There was an early red flag as Hiroki Ono fell and required help to leave the track. The Japanese rider was okay however.

The experienced Brit went unchallenged the entire Qualifying session. FP3 saw him set a new circuit record, and he was able to improve to a 2’15.344 in Qualifying. Kent was the first Moto3™ rider to ever lap in the 2’15s around the Circuit of the Americas, although Oliveira would join him in that club later on in the session. “We can expect a good race tomorrow, but the gap between me and the second placed rider on the grid isn’t that big so you never know what can happen in the race,” reflected Kent.

In previous years Kent has struggled at the start of the season, but 2015 has seen him be competitive from the off on his new Honda machine. Kent’s pace for the race looks a step above the rest, the British rider able to lap consistently in the 2’15s.

Miguel Oliveira was the only other rider in the 2’15s with a 2’15.829s. The Portuguese rider will be looking to make amends after contact at Turn 1 in Qatar ended his race early. Former Red Bull KTM Ajo rider, and CotA race winner, Jack Miller was on hand to give help and advice to Oliveira during FP3.

It was a debut front row for Andrea Locatelli in only his second race for the Gresini Racing Team Moto3. The Italian youngster had been challenging for the top three throughout the weekend in both the wet and dry. “I got my fastest lap at the end of the session, alone: I wanted to improve myself and I did it. I saw on the TV board that I was in fourth place, but I really wanted the front row and was able to further improve my lap time by a few tenths,” he said.

Locatelli’s teammate Enea Bastianini had a much better time in Qualifying than in Qatar, lining up eighth on the grid. Bastianini’s ride to second was a highlight of the Qatar race and he will no doubt be a threat with a much improved grid position. Fellow Italian Romano Fenati had another difficult session, an issue halting him on his final lap. Fenati, who finished second here last year, will start 19th on Sunday’s grid.

Both the Estrella Galicia 0,0 riders will make second row starts, despite never having raced in Austin before this weekend. Navarro, fifth, is hoping for a dry race, “I really wanted to run at this circuit, because the corners here are fun,” he said. Meanwhile teammate Quartararo will line up sixth and is hoping to fight for the win like in Qatar.

The top six was filled with five Hondas and just one KTM. Honda seem to have improved their Moto3™ machine yet again this year after KTM had previously dominated the class. Brad Binder was the next highest KTM in 11th, with Isaac Viñales in seventh on the leading Husqvarana. Franceso Bagnaia was once again the top Mahindra in ninth on his Mapfre Team Mahindra bike.

There were a number of incidents throughout the session, with Livio Loi and John McPhee coming together on their outlap, with the latter receiving a penalty point from Race Direction for not looking where he was going. Moments later Niklas Ajo suffered a heavy fall, narrowly avoiding the bike of Ferrari.

Alexis Masbou also received two penalty points from Race Direction for causing a crash while overtaking a rider in FP3.

Click here for the full Moto2™ Qualifying results and the grid for Sundays race, which is due to start at 12:20 local time in Austin.


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