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Tactics were of critical importance in a crowded Moto3™ Qualifying session, Brad Binder leading the front row with Fenati & Navarro behind.
With track temperatures slowly increasing, the Moto3™ World Championship took to the track in the hunt for pole position. The ambient temperature was a comfortable 29°C with the track reaching 40°C, slightly warmer than in Free Practice 3 but not as severe as Friday. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was once again the early leader in the session, championship leader Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) just behind.
Due to his fast start, Binder found himself frequently followed by other riders looking for a fast time, a similar situation frequently occurring to Danny Kent in 2015. Traffic is a persistent problem and the rules about slow riding were brought in to discourage such behaviour. But by mid-session Binder was able to improve his time and set the provisional fastest lap of the weekend.
Ten minutes from the end, the customary final assault for pole began at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina with new tyres fitted. None would be able to best Binder as the South African secured his first ever pole position in the World Championship. Not only is this his first ever pole, but it is just his second ever front row start. Binder is yet to win a race in the Moto3™ World Championship, despite having started every race.
Fellow KTM rider Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) was 0.324s back on Binder, unable to match his 1’49.767. This is the second straight race that Fenati will start on the front row, his best ever back-to-back Qualifying results. Fenati heads into the Argentina looking for his first podium since the Aragon GP in 2015.
Completing the front row was Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0), the Spaniard improving his pace slowly over the course of the weekend. After penalties were applied he was the only Honda in the top five on the grid.
Fourth in the session was Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia), an incredible result for the rookie. Unfortunately he was handed a penalty for riding slowly in practice and will start down in seventh place.
Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) was fifth in the session, again impressing with a 1’50.278. Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) was sixth, the top six a perfect divide of experienced campaigns and young up and comers. Pawi, Bulega and Mir have all come through the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship, the trio demonstrating the incredibly high level of the feeder series.
Khairul Idham Pawi and Karel Hanika (Platinum Bay Real Estate) were both handed three-place grid for slow riding during practice. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was penalised four places for the same offence as this was his second penalty in two rounds.
With penalties applied the front row remained unchanged while, while the second row will consist of Bulega, Mir and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) with Pawi leading the third row from Niccolo Antonelli and Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing). Times at the top remain incredibly close, the Moto3™ race building to be another nail bitter as in Qatar.
Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) fell early in the session at Turn 3 but sustained no serious injuries. Home rider Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) also fell early in the session at Turn 2, then a late fall at Turn 10. Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) also suffered a fast fall at Turn 5, ending his session prematurely.
Lorenzo Petrarca (3570 Team Italia), Karel Hanika (Platinum Bay Real Estate), Juanfran Guevara (RBA Racing Team) and Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) were all involved in a large crash at Turn 2 as the flag came out. None were injured.
Full results from the Qualifying session can be viewed here.
Warm Up for Moto3™ begins at 09:40 Local Time with the 21-lap race commencing at 13:00 Local Time on Sunday the third of April.
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