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Moto3™ qualifying was as explosive as ever as the PTT Thailand Grand Prix beckons for Sunday afternoon with one of the most intriguing grids of the year. The sun continued to shine despite threats of rain in the nearby area, making for a thrilling and intense 15 minutes of Moto3™ action. Come the end of play, it was Italian star Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) who took a career-first pole, ahead of Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) and Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team).
Celestino Vietti, John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Raul Fernandez (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) and Filip Salac (Redox PrustelGP) joined the riders already seeded into Q2, although Salac will start from the back of the grid regardless of where he qualifies. Would Q1 experience make the crucial difference in the charge for pole position?
Tempers frayed throughout the session, with Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) upsetting Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and Albert Arenas on the exit of Turn 1. Come the end of part one, it was Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) who came to the fore, leading Q1 top-men of John McPhee and Celestino Vietti. Nearly the entire field was sat in the Pitlane with five minutes to go, meaning that it would come down to a one-lap shootout at the end of the session.
The timing screens lit-up in the dying moments and despite all the swapping and changes on track and in the times, it was Q1 qualifier Vietti who took his first pole position of his career. This makes it the third consecutive time that a rider from Q1 has achieved pole in Moto3™ following on from Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) at Misano and Aron Canet at MotorLand Aragon. Joining him on the front row is Marcos Ramirez, who was just a tenth back after firing in a late lap, whilst Albert Arenas took his first front row of the year.
Flying the flag for Honda Team Asia, Kaito Toba was the first non-European on the grid as he headed up row two from fourth, just shy of pole by three tenths. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) made up for his crash in FP3 by slotting in the middle of row two, fractionally ahead of Aron Canet in sixth. Crucially for Canet, he is ahead of title rival Lorenzo Dalla Porta.
Having been the man to beat on Friday, Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) is bound to be slightly disappointed with his seventh place on the grid, at a track he looked at-one with. Behind him, Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) was eighth, having set his fastest lap on his own and not in the group. Initially good enough for pole, Rodrigo will have to work hard from the middle of row three. Tony Arbolino completed his eventful session in ninth, whilst Lorenzo Dalla Porta, having sat top early on in the session, dropped to tenth.
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Moto3™ Q2 at in Thailand: The lightweight grid takes shape
Notable names outside of the top ten included Tatsuki Suzuki in 11th, whilst John McPhee made a mistake on his final lap and dropped to 13th, having occupied a place on the front row for most of the session.
Top 10 after Moto3 qualifying, full results here!
1 Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) 1’42.599
2 Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) +0.118
3 Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) +0.152
4 Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) +0.298
5 Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) +0.368
6 Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) +0.409
7 Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) +0.574
8 Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) +0.586
9 Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) +0.627
10 Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) +0.705
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