The final day of 2023 actions is on the horizon with a title to be decided and last chance heroics to sign off in style
The final Saturday pole position battle is in the books for the 2023 Finetwork FIM JuniorGP™ World Championship at the historic Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Cheste, Valencia. The Spanish venue is the traditional closing point of the year and whilst it was windy and cold with conditions far from ideal, stories were everywhere you looked. In the JuniorGP™ class, it was Xabi Zurutuza (MTA Junior Team) who claimed a career-first pole; leading the way in the Moto2™ European Championship, newly-crowned Champion Senna Agius (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP Junior Team) eased to a sixth career pole. The European Talent Cup title is on the line and pole position went to Jesus Rios (MRE Talent) for the first time with title contenders battling elsewhere. The final Stock European Championship pole of the season went to Champion Daniel Muñoz (SP57 Racing Team)
Xabi Zurutuza was the rider to beat in JuniorGP™ qualifying; the 100th race winner in the class from Portimao is keen to end 2023 on a high and with two races on Sunday, he can mathematically grab runner-up spot from Luca Lunetta (AC Racing). The Italian is right on Zurutuza’s tail however, going from second at the track where he took a first podium in the class earlier in the year. Lining up in third, Adrian Cruces (Finetwork Mir Racing Team) returns to the front row for his home-round, with the Valencian aiming to take a first victory in the class.
Fourth place went to Nico Carraro (Aspar Junior Team) at a circuit where he featured strongly at during the second round of the season; he’s joined by Australian teammate Jacob Roulstone in P5 and Facundo Llambias (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0) on the second row. For Llambias, it’s his best grid slot and thus the best for Uruguay in JuniorGP™. Already Champion, Angel Piqueras (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0) suffered his worst qualifying since Valencia at the end of last year in P7.
Moto2 European Championship
In a league of his own once more, Senna Agius took another pole position as he seeks to become just the third rider in Moto2™ ECh history to take at least ten wins in the class, after Edgar Pons on 18 and Jesko Raffin on ten. However, a penalty after the session means he has a back of the grid start, so expect fireworks in the 18-lap battle. Second place was in the hands of Yeray Ruiz (FAU55 Tey Racing), who takes a second consecutive front row start and thus goes from pole position. Alberto Surra (Team Ciatti-Boscoscuro) completed the front row but goes from P2, whilst third will now be Harrison Voight (Yamaha Philippines Stylobike Racing Team).
European Talent Cup
The final ETC qualifying of the year brought a new name to the fore as Jesus Rios took a career-first front row in style with pole position, denying Guido Pini (AC Racing) during his last weekend sporting the #1. Two podiums in the last two races, with P3 in Barcelona and P2 at Aragon, mean the 16-year-old hopes to complete the sequence with a career-first win on Sunday. Pini lines up second whilst Championship leader Maximo Quiles (Aspar Junior Team) will go from third and aim to be the first double Champion in the class. On the second row in P6, Brian Uriarte (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0) has work to do if he’s to take the fight to Quiles for the title.
Stock European Championship
Lastly, the Stock ECh class rounded out Saturday qualifying action with their pole-deciding session. Daniel Muñoz was in fine form but took a while to get up to speed before bolting his #17 on pole for the sixth round, with only Eric Fernandez (FAU55 Tey Racing) stopping him in the opening round at Estoril. Having topped Q1, Fernandez couldn’t hold on, missing out on pole by just 0.422s but took second on the grid for the final race. Third place went to Jose Luis Armario (SuperHugo44 Team), who will look to pull something out of the locker for a showdown on Sunday afternoon.
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