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Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) sealed his first Moto3™ pole position since the 2019 British GP thanks to a stunning new Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya lightweight class lap record. The Italian’s 1:47.762 saw Arbolino finish 0.618 clear of second place Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as the Spaniard and third place Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) set the exact same time in Q2 at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya.
Fernandez, who has never been off the top two rows this in 2020, set the first benchmark of the session with a 1:48.611 to lead Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) and Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in the early stages, before Championship leader and Q1 graduate Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team) slotted into provisional P2 on his first flying lap. Arbolino then went top of the times by 0.045 seconds to move the goalposts ahead of a frantic final couple of laps for all the riders.
On his second run, Fernandez then reclaimed P1 and it was a good lap – the Moto3™ sophomore went to the summit by 0.186. However, the standings were going to be shaken-up in the closing stages with seven riders lighting the timing screens up with red sectors as they 18-rider field chased pole position. The fastest of them all was Arbolino, the Honda man was over three tenths under Fernandez’ lap time halfway around the lap and through the third split, Arbolino was nearly four tenths under. The Italian made no mistake through the final sector either and crossing the line, the time was astonishing. Arbolino absolutely obliterated the lap record and his competitors to take Catalan GP pole by over six tenths – staggering.
At the final corner on the final lap, Fernandez was down but thankfully ok. A disappointing end to the session for the number 25 but he’ll be pleased to keep his formidable qualifying record intact – P2 a fantastic starting slot for the KTM star. Rodrigo lines up on the outside of the front row after setting his best time late on, he’ll line-up third after his second fastest time was slower than Fernandez’.
After navigating a difficult Q1 session, which saw his main title rival Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) unable to get through to Q2, Arenas will be stoked to be heading Row 2 in P4. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) played the risky strategy of not setting a lap time until the final minute, but it paid off – the Spaniard claimed P5 in Q2. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completes the second row in P6, the Italian 0.8 shy of Arbolino’s pace but just over two tenths away from P2. Filip Salac (Rivacold Snipers Team) spearheads the third row in P7 – that’s the Czech rider’s best Saturday afternoon result of the season.
Toba improved his time on the final flying lap to get the better of Binder in P8 and P9 respectively, the South African unable to go quicker than he did on his second lap early in the 15-minute shootout. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) rounded out the top 10 in Moto3™ Q2, he’s joined on Row 4 by Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) and title chaser John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing). The British rider came through Q1 and will start 12th, that’s now three races in a row that McPhee has failed to qualify inside the top 10 though.
Second in the Championship Ogura had a torrid Saturday afternoon, the Japanese rider will have to claw his way through the pack from P24 – 20 places behind rival Arenas.
The Moto3™ title race looks set to take another twist on Sunday afternoon in Barcelona. It will no doubt be a thrilling watch as the lightweight class prepare for battle once more in 2020 – tune in at the later time of 12:00 local time (GMT+2) for the race!
1. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) 1.47.762
2. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.618
3. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) + 0.618
4. Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) + 0.628
5. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) + 0.728
6. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.832
7. Filip Salac (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 0.942
8. Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.967
9. Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) + 1.026
10. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) +1.062
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