Arbolino unassailable in the fight for pole

Italian bests compatriot Dalla Porta to take the spoils at Silverstone.

VNE Snipers’ Tony Arbolino converted his Friday pace into pole position on Saturday at the GoPro British Grand Prix, just escaping the clutches of Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) to take his third pole of the year by 0.079. Behind the duel at the front, an impressive rookie performance from rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) saw the Spaniard take P3 and his second career front row.

It was Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) who topped Q1 to lead the troops through into Q2, with the Japanese rider joined by Fernandez, Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and the man leading the Rookie of the Year standings, Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) to do battle for the top 18 positions on the grid. The sun was shining, the stage was set and the field were ready to fight it out.

In that fight, a first run left Arbolino fastest and the clock ticking down as the field returned to pitlane. The plan? One final dash, with most the field leaving it late and having only seconds to spare as they streamed over the line for a final fast lap. But in such a huge group squabble, there were few able to improve…and Arbolino’s 2’11:631 was a goalpost too far for the field. The Italian took his third pole of the year, setting him up for an assault on a third win of the year.

Dalla Porta was the only man in the same postcode and the Italian was just 0.079 off his compatriot’s pole position, doing what he needed to do to start from the front row as he pushes to stretch his Championship lead ahead of Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). Canet, one of the only riders to improve on his second run, which he opted to do in clear air, was 12th.

Raul Fernandez impressed to go from Q1 to the front row, four tenths off Dalla Porta, with Ayumu Sasaki another building on Q1 to impress in Q2. The Japanese rider heads up Row 2, ahead of Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), who crashed in Q2 but had already done enough. Home hero John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) completes Row 2 as he prepares for battle on Sunday.

Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) qualified ahead of fellow rookie – and key rival in the fight for Rookie of the Year – Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), with Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) locking out the third row.

Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) impressed to complete the top ten on his debut at Silverstone, finishing ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Canet. The three all bucked the trend and improved on their final runs. Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) and Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) complete the fastest fifteen.

That’s it from Saturday at a sunny Silverstone, with the Championship challengers split, the home hero right in the mix and some fast faces raring to race. Tune in as the lightweight class attack this classic track at the slightly different local time of 11:20 (GMT +1) on Sunday.

Qualifying results:
1 – Tony Arbolino (ITA – Honda) 2’11.631
2 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) +0.079
3 – Raul Fernandez (SPA – KTM) +0.481

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