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A phenomenal Q2 slick tyre gamble from Rivacold Snipers Team’s Andrea Migno saw the Italian power to a second pole position of the season by over two seconds at the SHARK Grand Prix de France. Migno’s 1:47.407 was set on his last flying lap and it denied second fastest Riccardo Rossi (BOE Owlride) a dream debut pole, but the latter will be over the moon with P2 after a crash at the start of the 15-minute session. Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completes the front row as Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) fails to make it out of Q1.
A dry Q1 saw Acosta needing to grab a top four spot in order to be in with a shout of a Le Mans pole position, but that was far from simple. Heading on the final flying laps the rookie sensation was inside the promotion places but a last lap flurry from numerous riders, coupled with a slower lap from Acosta, saw the title race leader miss out. P7 in Q1 means P21 on the grid for the number 37, not the afternoon Acosta would have been looking for in France.
A few minutes later, all eyes were on the Q2 runners – and the weather. Dark clouds circled the famous Le Mans circuit and it was all about getting out on track, while it was dry, and going as fast as possible. It didn’t take long before the heavens opened though, and there was early drama for second in the World Championship Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) and Rossi. The duo crashed at Turn 11 together where the rain was falling, both were ok, as the other Q2 runners then piled into pitlane to switch from slick Dunlops to wet.
Typically, the rain then stopped and it wasn’t until there just over six minutes to go when we saw the first time set. Tatsuki Suzuki’s (SIC58 Squadra Corse) 1:54.202 was the initial benchmark but Rodrigo immediately beat it by well over a second. Interestingly, Migno was out on slick tyres still and in the first two sectors, he was quick. But the final couple of splits was where the majority of the rain had fallen, Migno was losing bags of time.
A 1:51.375 then saw Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) go provisional P1 but all eyes were on Migno, who was 1.9s faster through the second split. And crossing the line, Migno went 1.1s faster than Öncü’s time – his slick tyre gamble was well and truly paying off. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) suddenly shot to P1 but his lap was chalked off because of yellow flags waving at the final corner, Filip Salac (Rivacold Snipers Team) was the rider picking his bike out of the gravel.
Migno completed another lap and improved by another half a second, as Masia and McPhee went P2 and P3. Rossi then propelled himself to P1 in the dying seconds, but a dream debut Grand Prix pole would be snatched away by Migno as the Italian went two seconds faster than anyone. A brilliant and intelligent tyre gamble from Migno and the Rivacold Snipers Team sees him pick up a second pole of the season, his third consecutive front row start.
Rossi will line up on a Moto3™ front row for the first time, Masia joins the Italians with a clear view into Turn 1. McPhee will be hoping his fortunes change when the Scotsman launches from P4 at the circuit he won at in 2019, Free Practice pacesetter Rodrigo and Antonelli – who recovered well from his early Q2 crash – complete the second row. Salac will spearhead Row 3 despite that late final corner tumble, the Czech rider has Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) and Suzuki for company in P8 and P9 respectively. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) settled for P10 in qualifying, can the Italian repeat his Jerez podium finish on Sunday?
A dramatic Moto3™ qualifying sets us up for another belting Sunday. Acosta has work to do from P21 on the grid and with a 51-point lead, the chasers need to capitalise. Tune in for Round 5 at 11:00 local time (GMT+2) on Sunday morning to see if anyone can stop Acosta’s early season superiority.
1. Andrea Migno (Rivalcold Snipers Team) – 1:47.407
2. Ricardo Rossi (BOE Owlride) + 2.001
3. Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 2.204
4. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 2.233
4. Gabriel Rodrigo (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) + 2.277
6. Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) + 2.487
7. Filip Salac (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 3.187
8. Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) + 3.379
9. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 3.520
10. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 3.555
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