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Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) secured his second pole position of the season after he stormed to P1 in Moto3™ qualifying at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. A 1:46.773 was enough to beat second-place Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) by 0.244 and third place John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) by 0.343 in an enthralling lightweight class qualifying.
It was a hectic start to the Moto3™ qualifying session as several riders went down in the opening exchanges on a drying Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PreustelGP) was the man to lead the opening exchanges, but he crashed his KTM machine at Turn 8. 2018 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) then took over at the summit, but he also went down at Turn 8 - the Turkish rider able get straight back on track, the Italian having to get his bike fixed.
As they have been all weekend, the track conditions were tricky but with no rain falling, a slight dry line started to appear as the times continued to tumble, with Atiratphuvapat sitting 0.2 clear with 12 minutes remaining. However, with his bike repaired, Bezzecchi then took over at the top – 0.027 the gap back to the Thai rider.
The track was getting drier and drier and the times started to get faster, with Raul Fernandez (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) and Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) taking over at the top. From here on in, the red sectors were coming from across the board as five minutes remained. Pole position? Anyone’s guess at this stage – still no gambles on the slick tyres though.
With two to go, it was Atiratphuvapat on top by 0.188 – but half the field were lighting up the timing screens with red sectors as some gambled with the slick. Arbolino was one of them and he moved the goal posts by over a second, could that be beaten? Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) got within 0.3 of the Italian before Arbolino went even quicker – a 1:46.773 the time that would earn the Italian pole.
Öncü leapt up to a stunning P2 on his final run, before McPhee and then Atiratphuvapat bumped the 15-year-old wildcard down to P4. P2 for the Thai rider for his first front row start in what looks to be his last GP, P3 for the Scotsman. Canet ended P5 after the late flurry of times, with Bezzecchi starting from outside of the second row in his last Moto3™ race – P6 for the Italian.
After a crash, Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) managed to get himself up to P7 at the end of the session, with Kornfeil settling for P8. Ninth went to Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3), the Spaniard another rider to crash during the session, with teammate and wildcard Fernandez rounding out the top ten.
Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team Moto3), Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Stefano Nepa (CIP - Green Power) and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) were other riders to fall victim to the tricky conditions – all ok.
A sensational qualifying session ends with some big names down the order: 2018 Champion Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) starts P13, with teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio P15 – Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) sandwiched between the two in P14.
This all adds up to what looks set to be a cracking final Moto3™ race of 2018 – tune in for it at 11:00 local time (GMT +1).
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