Niccolo Antonelli masters tricky conditions for pole in Texas

Italian sublime in a wet-but-drying qualifying to take pole by a stunning half second.

Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) has taken his first pole position since Qatar 2018 in qualifying at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, brave in tough conditions to pull half a second clear of a stunning performance from rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) in second. Fernandez moved through from a wet Q1 and leapt up the timesheets on his final flying lap to take his first ever front row start, 0.282 ahead of Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) in third.

With rain causing FP3 for all classes to be cancelled, it was straight into qualifying for Moto3™ and Q1 saw some high rates of attrition. As conditions gradually improved throughout Q2, however, laptimes were tumbling rather than riders and much of the grid set their fastest lap on their final attempt. That wasn’t true of Antonelli though; the Italian setting his benchmark on lap five of six and remaining unthreatened on pole despite the best efforts of the rest.

Behind the two at the top it was close competition for the front row, however, with Q1 graduate Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) taking fourth but only 0.015 off Rodrigo, ahead of another rider who moved through from the first qualifying session – Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power), who was the pacesetter for much of the session until the final push. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) completes Row 2 despite a late crash in Q2.

Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was another who found himself losing out on a row of the grid by a tiny margin, with the Japanese rider pushed off the second row by less than a tenth and instead starting seventh. He’s just 0.065 ahead of John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), with Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) three tenths off in P9. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) completes the top ten, just ahead of teammate Lorenzo Dalla Porta despite a crash for the Italian.

Two-time Texas winner Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers Team), meanwhile, faces a bit of a fight back from P12 on the grid – and is sure to prove one to watch once the lights go out. That’s at 11:00 local time (GMT -5) on Sunday as Fenati shoots for a hat trick – and everyone else fights for a first Americas GP win.

Qualifying results
1 – Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) 2:31.346
2 – Raul Fernandez (SPA) +0.501
3 – Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG) +0.783

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