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Antonelli snatches Moto3™ pole

 Antonelli snatches Moto3™ pole

Niccolo Antonelli takes his first pole position of the season ahead of Danny Kent and Jorge Navarro.

Ongetta-Rivacold’s Niccolo Antonelli claimed his first pole position of the season at the bwin Grand Prix Ceské Republiky in a dramatic conclusion to the session where the top 18 riders on the grid were separated by less than a second. The Italian left it late to set a 2’07.700 which was actually slower than the fastest time set by Danny Kent in FP3. This was due to the track temperature rising from the morning to 44˚C by Qualifying, which meant there was less grip available as the surface became greasy. It was Antonelli’s second career Moto3™ pole position after Valencia in 2014, and comes after the 19 year old announced he had extended his contract with his team for 2016.

Championship leader Danny Kent was just 0.002s back, and will start from the middle of the front row. Leopard Racing’s British rider had been frustrated during the session, as he was followed by a huge train of riders looking to get a tow. Eventually Kent managed to shake them all off - apart from Romano Fenati who was determined to follow the Brit - to set a flying lap right at the end of the session to claim second.

Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Jorge Navarro completes the front row as amazingly just 0.031s separated the top three. His teammate, 16-year-old Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (+0.148s), will start from the front of the second row.

Alexis Masbou (+0.219s) on the SAXOPRINT RTG Honda was fifth on the timesheets, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo of Brad Binder (+0.448s) and Karel Hanika (+0.449s) in sixth and seventh respectively.

Kent’s teammate Efren Vazquez will start from the middle of the third row in eighth, while Jorge Martin on the Mapfre Team Mahindra and SAXOPRINT RTG’s John McPhee completed the top ten.

The man second in the championship standings Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Team Moto3) found himself down in fifteenth and will start from the back of the fifth row. Drive M7 SIC’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who had started on the front row last time out at Indianapolis, did not have a great session and will have to start from 33rd on the grid.

CIP Racing's Tatsuki Suzuki (20th) unfortunately crashed during the session at turn 3 and after visiting the Medical Centre it was revealed he had fractured his 5th metatarsal in his left foot and will be assessed in the morning.

After the session had ended Race Direction decided to impose penalties on both Romano Fenati and Livio Loi for riding slowly on the racing line and disturbing other riders. Both Fenati and Loi received a grid penalty of three places and will be forced to miss the first 10 minutes of the Warm Up session before the race. This means that Fenati will now start from 22nd on the grid, and Loi from the middle of the 11th row in 32nd.

Check out the full Moto3™ Qualifying results, Sunday’s 19-lap race starts at 11:00am local time.

Moto3, 2015, bwin GRAND PRIX ČESKÉ REPUBLIKY, QP, Niccolò Antonelli, Jorge Navarro, Danny Kent, Ongetta-Rivacold

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