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Toba secures Friday top spot from Suzuki in Sepang

Two Japanese riders lead the way in the Moto3™ class after a fully dry afternoon session

Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) has taken Moto3™ Friday honours at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix thanks to a late 2:12.466 in FP2. The Japanese rider heads compatriot Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), with CIP Green Power’s Darryn Binder rounding out a top three split by 0.258 seconds.

Heavy overnight rain meant FP1 for the lightweight class was fairly stagnant, with the Sepang International Circuit taking some time to dry before the riders were confident enough to rumble out of pitlane on dry tyres. However, the afternoon session didn’t spring any complications in terms of the weather as everyone immediately went faster than they did in the morning. And during that morning session, Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Ayumu Sasaki suffered a crash at Turn 10, but that didn’t deter the Japanese rider as he came out to jump straight to the top of the standings in FP2.

Sasaki’s time would see him lead his competitors until there were just two minutes remaining, when the riders started setting fast lap times to try and get themselves into a provisional automatic Q2 spot. Rookie Raul Fernandez (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) went fastest with 1m30s left on the clock to displace Sasaki, before the Japanese duo of Suzuki and Toba then exchanged P1 in the dying seconds. Binder also set a personal best on his last run to jump up to P3, which saw Sasaki get shoved down to P4 at the team’s home race.

FP1 pacesetter Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) completed the top five on the overall charts, the Italian sits 0.3 off Toba heading into qualifying day. After losing out on the Championship at Phillip Island, Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) will be looking to end his Moto3™ career on a high – and it’s been a solid start for the Spaniard. P6 is Canet’s after Friday’s running, while just behind Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) sit P7 and P8 on exactly the same time. Their teammates – Sergio Garcia and Tony Arbolino – are the riders who round out the top 10.

John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), while 0.5 under the P1 time, crashed at Turn 10 at the end of the session, with Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) going down at Turn 15 at the end of the session – both riders were ok.

Moto3™ FP3 kicks Saturday’s proceedings off at 09:00 local time (GMT+8). All eyes will be pointing towards the clouds as the riders sitting outside the top 14 pray it stays dry.

Top 10:
1. Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) – 2:12.466
2. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.235
3. Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) + 0.258
4. Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.311
5. Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) + 0.345
6. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 0.353
7. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 0.386
8. Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) + 0.386
9. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 0.444
10. Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) + 0.493

Click here for the full results! 

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