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Binder begins Saturday with clear advantage

Binder begins Saturday with clear advantage

Riders immediately matched the pace of Friday, but few improved as much as Brad Binder who topped FP1 from Navarro and Bastianini.

As ever it was the riders in the Moto3™ World Championship who commenced on track activity on Saturday. Light cloud cover gathered over the circuit, conditions slightly cooler than they had been in previous sessions. Most riders left the pits immediately, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) taking his time to head out.

After his ferocious high side on Friday at Turn 13, Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) was back on his KTM and running without painkillers. There’s no doubt he was sore, but the rider from Nice wanted to assess his physical condition and see exactly what he could do. His crash on Friday came at an unfortunate time, Quartararo in the middle of a string of fast laps. He clearly wasn’t hindered too much by his crash as he ducked into the 1’47s in the middle of the session.

The cool conditions of Saturday morning saw the top two immediately into the 1’47s, working towards Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1’47.119 from Free Practice 2. Both Binder and Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) started well, carrying on their pace from the previous sessions. Neither rider has taken victory, yet both are sitting atop the championship.

As the session entered its second half, Binder began to push harder and set a 1’47.138 with under 20 minutes to go despite encountering  heavy traffic in the final sector. This marked a distinct shift in the focus of the session, the top five riders all entering the 1’47s as the pace picked up. Not long after Binder showed exactly what he’s capable of when not interrupted by traffic, setting a 1’46.575 to get within four tenths of a second of Jack Miller’s 2014 pole time. Not only did Binder manage the fastest time, he also managed to complete the most laps of any rider in the session as he circulated the Jerez circuit 20 times.

Try as they may; no rider was able to overthrow the South African. Jorge Navarro, quickly emerging as Binder’s closest rival in the title hunt, was able to get close to Binder but not within a third of a second. His 1’46.928 0.353s behind Binder’s fastest time.

Enea Bastianini may have gotten his session off to a slow start, but once he was out on track, he was back to his best and one of just four riders in the 1’46s. The Italian set a 1’46.945 to end the session third, 0.017s from second place. While Binder may have a 0.3s advantage over the field, behind him is much closer as second to fourth were all within 0.040s.

Once again Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) was able to finish inside the top five, the fourth and final rider in the 1’46s. The Italian had several laps ruined by unfortunately placed traffic and will be looking for clean track come Qualifying.

Rounding out the top five was Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), the rookie calling on his experience from the FIM CEV Repsol championship to circulate with a 1’47.274. He may have been 0.699s off Binder’s lap, but if Bulega can pace keeps up, this should put him in a strong position to challenge in the race on Sunday. In Qatar the incredible rookie proved he can battle with the best in the world as long as he gets a good start.

Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing), Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team), Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46), Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) and Tatsuki Suzuki (CIP-Unicom Starker) completed the top ten. Only the top eight rides were within a second of Binder’s lap, several riders emerging as early favourites.

Qualification for the lightweight class commences at 12:35 Local Time, can Binder keep his advantage?

Full results from Free Practice 3 can be seen here.

Moto3, 2016, GRAN PREMIO RED BULL DE ESPAÑA, FP3, Brad Binder, Jorge Navarro, Enea Bastianini, Estrella Galicia 0,0, Red Bull KTM Ajo, Gresini Racing Moto3

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