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Binder bags maiden Moto3™ pole from Q1

The South African stormed to P1 in the closing stages of Q2 as the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo claim front rows; Arenas and Ogura inside top 10

A maiden Moto3™ pole position came the way of Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana as the South African beats Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by less than a tenth in Q2, thanks to a new lap record: a 1:38.286. Raul Fernandez joins his Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate on the front row as Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) comes through Q1 to claim P6, just ahead of main rival Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) in P7.

Ahead of Q1 getting underway, light rain started to fall again. This created a nightmare for the riders, including Arenas and Binder, as the rain wasn’t hard enough for it to be fully wet as most of the riders ventured out on slick tyres. Riccardo Rossi (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy) took out Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) as the two crashed together at Turn 10, Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) then crashed at the final corner as the light rain continued to fall. Arenas pitted for fresh slick tyres, and it was crunch time for the Spaniard.

In the end, with the rain holding off, Arenas topped Q1 to grab a vital place in the pole position shootout. Rossi, John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Binder made it through also as the Circuit Ricardo Tormo descended into silence before the Moto3™ machines bellowed into life for Q2.

Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) topped the early stages, Ogura then shot to provisional P1 as Arenas slotted into P5. It was an all Japanese front row with nine minutes left as Toba joined Ogura and Suzuki in the top three, with Ogura holding a 0.012-second advantage over Suzuki as the riders completed their opening stint.

Elsehwere in terms of title contenders, Arenas was P6, Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) occupied P8 with Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) sitting P14 and P15 with just five minutes to go. It was the calm before the storm as the lightweight class rehydrated and regathered their composure, ahead of an almighty scrap from Valencia GP pole position.

Vietti wasn’t outside the top 10 for long as the Italian climbed his way up to P4. Just behind though, Binder grabbed some slipstream and launched himself to pole position, with Arenas and Ogura lapping together on track. Ogura’s lap wasn’t going to challenge and Arenas stuck it up the inside of his rival, the Spaniard managing to improve his time but neither Arenas nor Ogura challenged for pole position. Toba did though, he was tucked up behind Arenas and went P2, with teammate Fernandez claiming P3 on his final flying lap.

No one could beat Binder though as the KTM rider popped a wheelie down the start/finish straight in celebration, a first Grand Prix pole was his. It’s an all KTM front row with Toba and Fernandez joining Binder, that’s Fernandez’ 10th front row of 2020. Masia spearheads the second row in a pivotal race for his World Championship chances, he’s joined by Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Arenas on the second row.

The third row is headed by Ogura who slips down the order in the closing stages, eventually getting beaten by Arenas. The top two in the Championship line up next to each other on the grid, expect fireworks. Similar to Ogura, Suzuki didn’t improve his lap on the last attack and dropped from the front row to P8, with Vietti having Ogura and Arenas well in sight after picking up a solid P9. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) rounds out a top 10 that is split by just 0.4 seconds. After setting the pace in Free Practice, Arbolino had to settle for a P14 starting slot and has work to do on Sunday morning to keep his title hopes alive.

An intriguing Moto3™ qualifying is now done and dusted, as the riders now get set for the penultimate race of 2020. Three points split Arenas and Ogura, how much drama is going to unfold in Valencia? This is Moto3™, anything can happen.

Tune in for the race at 11:00 local time (GMT+1), where we could see Arenas crowned World Champion.

Top 10:
1. Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) – 1:38.286
2. Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.043
3. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.118
4. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) + 0.204
5. Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.286
6. Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) + 0.291
7. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) + 0.292
8. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.304
9. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.384
10. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.404

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