Tony Arbolino holds the aces on home turf

Tony Arbolino holds the aces on home turf 1Italian plays his cards to perfection to set a new lap record and take Mugello pole.

Home hero Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) will start his home Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley from his third career pole at Mugello, setting a stunning new lap record in qualifying to end Saturday nearly seven tenths clear of the competition. That competition is led by Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), 0.673 down in second, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) the last man within a second of pole to lock out the front row.

After a frantic Q1 that saw rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) lead the way ahead of Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) and Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai), the stage was set for a showdown in Q2 and, as always in Moto3™, there was plenty of action packed in.

After the first run it was Friday’s fastest man Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) who led the way and Arbolino hadn’t even set a time, but there was drama for both Suzuki and teammate Antonelli as they’d left left pitlane before the lights went green – something that would later affect their grid positions immensely. Rodrigo was the first to move the goal posts and take over at the top at that point though, and the Argentine lowered his laptime again next time around. But then came Arbolino and the new lap record on his final lap of the session, with the Italian celebrating even before popping out from behind the bubble.

Rodrigo was therefore forced to settle for second, with Dalla Porta the man who’ll start alongside him in third after having moved up into the mix in the final few minutes. Andrea Migno was another late improver, the 2017 winner taking P4 at the flag to head the second row – an impressive feat after coming through Q1. Suzuki and teammate Niccolo Antonelli were fifth and sixth fastest at the flag, but their first laptimes were then cancelled after they were deemed to have gained an unfair advantage due to their earlier infraction – so it’s 2014 Mugello winner Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) who starts fifth, with Qatar GP winner Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) set to start alongside him in P6. After ending Day 1 outside the top twenty, the turnaround from the Japanese rider is an impressive one.

Ramirez took P7 and heads up the second row, ahead of Championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) after a more difficult session, with Suzuki’s fastest allowed lap putting him in P9 to complete Row 3. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completes the top ten.

Will qualifying prove to matter that much at Mugello, where the slipstream rules all? The likes of Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) – 16th – and Le Mans winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) – 17th – will join Antonelli, down in 18th, in hoping it doesn’t and that race day shuffles the pack once again.

The lights go out for the Moto3™ race at 11:00 (GMT +2), don’t miss one of the spectacles of the season.

Qualifying results:
1 – Tony Arbolino (ITA – Honda) 1’56.407
2 – Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG – Honda) +0.673
3 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) +0.869

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