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Having initially dried out, the Moto3™ qualifying session took place in the rain, with wet track conditions once again greeting the lightweight class. With the wet track conditions giving Q1 riders a valuable insight into the grip and water levels, an interesting dynamic was made for those who would make it into Q2. In the end, it was all about Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers Team), who headed John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse).
Treacherous track conditions saw rider fall, with Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power) tumbling at Turn 13, whilst Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) suffered a highside at Turn 3, although he remounted but only missed out by just under a tenth of a second to start from 19th overall. Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was teetering on the edge of the top four when he crashed out, but held onto his fourth place, joining Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), Makar Yurchenko, (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) in going through in to Q1.
Conditions deteriorated even further in Q2, meaning those with the experience of Q1 didn’t necessarily have an advantage over those seeded straight through to Q2 from the combined Free Practice sessions. Times were soon coming down and Britain’s John McPhee featured prominently, leading the session for the majority of the 15 minutes. Raul Fernandez was looking strong too, with his experience in Q1 certainly proving to be put to good use. Tony Arbolino came on strong with two minutes to go and was the first rider in the 2’18 bracket on top.
There were big surprises, with none other than Makar Yurchenko being the most notable in fifth position for part of the session, whilst Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) went to second place in the closing stages, but was pipped right at the end by McPhee, who took second. Improvements weren’t possible for everyone however, as Fernandez confidence in the wet caught him out with a crash at Turn 3, bring out yellow flags and hindering other riders in the process.
However, it was a happy birthday gift for Arbolino, who took pole position in a comfortable manner by 0.400s, ahead of a late-charging McPhee and 2015 Brno winner, Niccolo Antonelli, who pipped teammate Tatsuki Suzuki at the final throw of the dice. The Japanese star heads up row two, with Raul Fernandez remaining in the top positions, with fifth.
Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) completed the second row in sixth place, as he put himself in good contention for the race on Sunday. Makar Yurchenko took a career-best qualifying position with seventh, ahead of Spanish rider Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai). Completing the top ten is Japanese rider Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) in ninth and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0).
Outside of the top ten, it was a disaster for the Leopard Racing outfit, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Marcos Ramirez down in 17th and 18th position, leaving themselves plenty of work to do on Sunday. Will they be able to surge through the field? Just ahead of the duo, Filip Salac (Redox Prüstel GP) was the home-hero in form, with 14th place.
1. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) 2:18.020
2. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.400
3. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.802
4. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.833
5. Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) + 0.855
6. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 0.933
7. Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) + 1.297
8. Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) + 1.329
9. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) + 1.699
10. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 2.055
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