Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) has brought the run of different polesitters in the opening rounds of the Moto3™ season to an end, with the Italian setting a new record in qualifying at the Motul TT Assen to head the grid for Sunday’s race. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) in second, with Mugello winner Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) taking third and just 0.013 in further arrears.
It was a frantic, manic Moto3™ Q2 and Toba sat atop the timesheets before the final flyer came in from Antonelli, but it’s nevertheless a good start down the path to redemption for the Japanese rider after a heartbreaking crash on the final lap in Barcelona that saw him slide out the lead. And the last time he was on the front row, he won the race…and all three men on the front row have the best chance to become the first repeat winner of the year.
Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was fourth fastest and is one of the men best-placed to try and keep the record-breaking run of different winners going, joined on Row 2 by rookie duo Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), both of whom are also looking for their first Grand Prix wins.
Friday’s fastest Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) heads the third row, another to have not yet taken to the top step, but he’s in serious company as the men first and second in the standings line up alongside him. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) is P8 after coming through Q1 and the man he’s chasing, Championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), was just 0.014 off him in ninth.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) was tenth quickest but has a six-place grid penalty to serve, so it’s Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) who starts in P10, with rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) and Catalan GP winner – and Q1 graduate – Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) joining him on the fourth row.
It’s already a record-breaking run in the lightweight class with 12 different winners in a row. Antonelli is now a repeat polesitter, can he become the first repeat winner? Can his fellow victors so far this year do the same? Or will it be another chapter in the record books on Sunday? The lights go out for the Moto3™ race at 11:00 (GMT +2).
1 – Niccolo Antonelli (ITA – Honda) 1’41.232
2 – Kaito Toba (JPN – Honda) +0.144
3 – Tony Arbolino (ITA – Honda) +0.157
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