Rodrigo revels in qualifying to beat McPhee, Bezzecchi

Argentine secures third Grand Prix pole to spearhead the grid in Japan, title leader Martin launches from P4

Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) will start Sunday’s Motul Grand Prix of Japan from pole position after a stellar qualifying session, a 1:56.894 enough to beat second-place John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) by 0.075 with title contender Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) joining the duo on the front row in third.

The Argentine topped the timesheets before the typical late flurry of times came in an enthralling final ten minutes of the session. Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) took the chequered flag first to shoot to the top of the timesheets, but following was a gaggle of quick riders. Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) somehow managed to find himself some clean air to beat the Italian’s time, but lurking in the Championship leader’s shadows was Rodrigo. The latter strung a great lap together to dip below the 1:57 barrier, with Bezzecchi crucially setting a faster lap than Martin to put himself P2, before McPhee then shot up to P2 on his KTM machine – a cracking final lap from the Scotsman.

This pushed Martin off the front row, the overall standings leader having to settle for a P4 starting slot, with Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) managing to put in a strong last lap to line up alongside the Spaniard on the second row – P5 for the South African is his best career Saturday. Bastianini would eventually be pushed down to the outside of the second row in sixth, with fellow Italian Dennis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46) leaping up to seventh on his final run – 0.008 from the second row.

Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider) is the leading Japanese rider in qualifying at the Twin Ring Motegi, 0.366 from pole, with Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) completing the top ten in Japan – P9 and P10 respectively. It wasn’t the qualifying session that third in the Championship Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) was looking for, P15 for the Thai GP winner who has work to do on Sunday.

Friday’s fastest man Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP), wildcard Yuto Fukushima (Team Plus One), home hero Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), replacement rider Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Japan’s Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) all crashed – riders ok.

Rodrigo secures a third career pole position, but can he convert it into a maiden Grand Prix victory? Two title contenders are in close pursuit on the grid as we look set to have another barnstorming Moto3™ race. Don’t miss any of the action from 11:00 local time (GMT +9).

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